Introductory Sessions Improve Health Club Member Retention

Introductory Sessions Improve Health Club Member Retention

Club owners and operators want to make a difference in their community by helping people become healthier and live longer, more fulfilled lives. But most clubs’ strategies for integrating new members into the facility and its programs fall short because they do not educate new members on what it takes to achieve success. Many clubs need a better way to engage those just-joined members so that they make your club an integral part of their lives, and one that they will never leave behind. The key to that is creating a system that helps members reach their goals and leads them to a happier, more fulfilling life.

One of the primary purposes of your integration strategy should be to help new members understand what your facility can do for them. This education should actually start before they have joined your club, when they are still prospects. First, you need to draw the people in, conveying the value of your services and attracting them to the things that they need and want in their life. Then, you must differentiate your club from the competition. Your future members need to know why they should join your facility and not the one down the road. You must come across as the place that can deliver a valuable and positive experience, one that is worth every dollar that they spend with you. Finally, once they have chosen to become members of your club, you must impress upon them the fact that they have the ability to take control of their own wellness and that they can get results beyond what they thought possible. By doing this, you will deliver on the promise you made to them when they joined your club.

This type of success begins when club owners and operators change their attitude about the way things should be done. It requires taking a long look at your current member integration process so you can see how to take control of it. Once you gain control, you are better able to explain to new members the pathway to success. Creating this pathway to success is essential to keeping the member engaged, involved and active in your club. Helping them get the results that they desire is possible and, in fact, required to build members that will stay forever.

If you have 100 people join, you are lucky if 30 to 40 of them attend their first orientation appointment. What happens to the rest? Most of the time, they fail, quit and leave. Club operators often forget about those 60 or 70 people. At my club, we set up four free “getting started” appointments with a coach (not a trainer). These appointments solidify value for new members, who are instructed in how to use the equipment and the facility and made to feel confident and competent in all areas of the club. These appointments also help build social connections. The further we can take these members during the four appointments, the more successful they feel.

By systematically looking at every member, providing them with opportunities and mapping out a plan for success, you can help them get the results they need and desire. By offering these introduction appointments as complimentary with a new membership, you will have more members commit to more appointments, improving your opportunity to provide them with the experience, value, education and habits they need to achieve their goals.

As people drift away from their path, we introduce them to more of the club’s offerings. We reintroduce them to the sales process and talk with them about personal training. This is the right way and the right time to introduce personal training because it is only after these introductory appointments that they truly know and understand their needs.

Being able to draw the member to your club is essential in this time of intense competition. Having a sales team that can differentiate and identify the factors that will help the prospect become a member of your organization is paramount to closing more sales. The home run comes when your members decide that your club is the difference they need and they see the results that come from you delivering more than they expect.

Simply stated, it is our job to guide all of our new members to successful results. Every member, every time. The correct pathway will deliver an experience that will keep them a member forever.


Thomas Kulp is the chief motivational officer of Universal Athletic Club in Lancaster, PA, and CEO of Fitness Club Consultants. He also is president of the Mid-Atlantic Club Management Association. He can be reached at 717-799-5155.

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