Total Member Satisfaction: The Key To Health Club Profits

Pat Rigsby is the co-owner of several businesses in the fitness industry, including the Fitness Consulting Group. He also serves as an industry consultant focusing on the development of profitable personal training departments. To learn how you can improve your club’s retention, referrals and profitability, sign up for his free newsletter at www.fitnessconsultinggroup.com. Pat can be reached at [email protected].

When I first became involved in the fitness industry, member satisfaction seemed to be an afterthought. At the time, health clubs’ focus was primarily on new member sales. However, in today’s highly competitive health club market, member satisfaction represents perhaps the most powerful survival strategy. After all, everything you do to attract, maintain and expand your membership hinges upon your ability to consistently deliver your promised benefit.

A lost member is so costly that it is almost indescribable. If your average member has a lifetime value of $1,000 and you lose just one, it costs $1,000 in future receivables. You also lose the hundreds of potential dollars they represented in future up-sell opportunities of services that you could have provided them, as well as retail purchases they could have made at your juice bar.

It doesn’t end there. By losing a member, you miss out on the potential referrals they could have generated, each with similar potential lifetime values. If you have 1,000 members and lose 40 percent over the course of the year, as is the industry standard, you have potentially lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in future revenue.

It gets even worse. If you’re driving unsatisfied members away, you’re also suffering from what I call the “dissatisfied member syndrome.” Each dissatisfied member discourages, on average, 10 to 20 people from ever joining your club. This, of course, starts the whole profit-loss cycle all over again.

Replacing a lost member costs 500 percent more than keeping your current members. What that means to you is that improving member retention even 5 percent can add 10 percent, 15 percent or even 20 percent to your bottom line.

What’s the solution to this problem? Deliver on your promises. If you promise your members great results at the point of sale, give them great results. If you promise to stay in contact with them and keep them motivated, do it. If you don’t give your members what you promised -- a friendly environment, great service, a helpful staff and a clean facility -- then you cannot possibly expect your members to buy the other things that you offer, let alone remain loyal to your club and refer you to their friends, family, clients, patients and associates.

Here are six tips to turn the tables on attrition and lost revenue and achieve total member satisfaction:

  • Instead of giving new members an introductory session with a personal trainer that is just a disguised sales session, use this session to provide information of value that will help them achieve their desired results.
  • Stay in touch with your members through an e-mail newsletter.
  • Consider sending members cards around the holidays and thank-you cards after they join.
  • Keep your club clean, and teach your front-desk staff to greet members by name.
  • If your trainers work the floor, have them actually help members instead of just hounding members to buy personal training packages.
  • Offer free monthly seminars designed to educate and motivate your members.

These tips are just a start, but any of them will move you in the right direction toward better retention and total member satisfaction.

Whether you club is big or small, don’t neglect satisfying your members. If you do, the consequences are devastating.

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