Retention Starts at Membership


There is a direct relationship between the longevity of a customer and the initial transaction of the purchase.

How does that relate to us in the club industry? It is directly related to the level of engagement, leadership and expertise not only in product knowledge of your facilities but also in the interpersonal skills of your membership sales staff. The sales staff plays the initial and large part in how the new member connects and remains with your club.

One of the ways we can provide results to our new members at the point of membership sale is for the membership staff to be responsible for selling non-dues revenue programs at the point of joining. The programs that the membership representative would sell would clearly be the programs that are relevant to the new member. However, in order for the membership representative to know what those programs might be, they need to do a stellar job in the pre-tour questioning and then be able to build desire and create differentiation on the tour for the different non-dues programs the club provides and be able to create a match. The example from my manual, “5 Weeks to Personal Training Success,” relates to how a membership representative would sell personal training at the point of membership sale (see the sidebar, “Integrating the Funnel System”).


Successful training programs start at the point of sale with a new member. What typically happens in most clubs that do not have a strong personal trainer program is the membership representative ever so briefly mentions personal training on the tour with the prospective member. Additionally, the member is told about two to three “personal training” sessions, which are really orientation sessions. The member thinks he or she is getting two to three personal training sessions and is disappointed when he or she only gets an orientation. Therefore, the member does not see the value in personal training.

The funnel system, if done well by the membership representative, is a terrific tool to get up to 50 percent of the new members involved in personal training and provides the new member with the results he or she is looking for much sooner, increasing the chance the new member will remain active in the club.

The results of creating a funnel system for your programs are that new members gets involved in what they want immediately, which accommodates a swift integration in the club, a shorter path to their goals and increased value of the club to the members. When members place a high value on the club they are not as likely to discontinue membership.

Karen D. Woodard, president of Premium Performance Training in Boulder, CO, can be reached at 303-417-0653 or [email protected].

Integrating the Funnel System

The membership representative offers a personal training starter kit at point of membership sale. The membership representative must buy into this system and present it on every tour and at the close of every membership sale. Otherwise, this will not work as well as it can.

  • The starter kit is a personal training package of three sessions that is only offered at the time of joining. By offering a small time commitment in number of sessions and in terms of dollars, it makes the initial sale easier.
  • On the membership tour, the membership representative creates differentiation between the orientation and personal training sessions. This should be done in a positive way that creates value for both and explains the benefits for the orientation and personal training, but creates a strong results focus with a personal training program. After the tour and at the time of joining, the membership representative would offer the starter kit for a special price, while noting the results members get when they use personal trainers.
  • If the new member decides to go with the starter kit, the representative will have the member complete a fitness profile and lifestyle form. These forms are given to the program director by the membership representative.
  • The program director will then match the new member with a personal trainer.
  • The trainer and the new member meet, have their three sessions and the trainer has the opportunity to create the relationship and sell additional sessions to the new member.
  • The funnel system, if done well, can be a phenomenal boost to any personal training program or any non-dues revenue program.

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