Today, integrating new members means more than showing them a locker room or a new piece of equipment. Swiping their credit card is just the start of a contract that involves your facility offering new members great service and unprecedented attention in return for them becoming your business’s best promoters in your community. Do the following to ensure you keep your new members in 2013:
Offer a lot of assistance
As simple as it may sound, having someone available to assist at a moment’s notice is the essence of customer service and is the key to keeping members active in the club. Assign new members to one staff member who will be available at the club, online or by phone if and when a need arrives. Introduce new members to their go-to person on day one. This customer service expert will be their personal fitness director who will direct them to the trainer, group fitness instructor or sales consultant who can create their personalized program. By doing this, you are assured that members’ needs are met, thereby avoiding any complaints or dissatisfaction.
Dish out knowledge on a daily basis
New members may not have the knowledge to know what to do, so educate them, keeping the reasons behind doing these things brief so you do not weigh them down with this information. Giving them the basics so they experience what results feel like will help turn them into members who sing your praises. Plan your next seminar using a “do this, not that” format.
Hold your members accountable for communicating regularly
Formulate a system in which members are expected to check in and communicate on a regular basis. Whether it is a re-measurement or a monthly or quarterly survey, format a way to communicate directly with members. Establish a method of making concerns public to show others that the members’ input is heard. Offer a way by which members can celebrate results and share testimonials with others in the membership base. Newsletters, email blasts and social media sites are commonly used for these things but consider using a bulletin board inside the club, too.
Offer assurance to members
Assure your members that the equipment will be cleaned and in great working order, that the schedule changes will be posted ahead of time, that classes and training sessions will arrive and start on time, that a uniformed professional will be available on the floor, that the staff is well trained and that you offer progressive programming options. However, the real key to assuring members that they will experience something wonderful each time they enter your club is to have an empowered team that looks forward to seeing the smiles as the equipment is wiped down, who are eager and proud to promote a new group fitness schedule and who are more than eager to demonstrate on the workout floor.
Clearly state the rules of the road
Nothing frustrates members more than not understanding their club’s policies or daily procedures. Ensure that your system of communicating the club’s rules of the road is strong and spell out the policies for members as they join. Review all parts of the agreement and ask them if they need clarification as you do so. This is a great job to be taken on by their personal fitness director. While touring, your staff should address the facility’s policies and assure guests that these policies are in place to ensure a positive gym experience. Signage is often used as backup. Include members on a committee to review and update policies.
Finding innovative ways to buddy up members for workouts, events and social activities will be worth every minute you spend in planning and implementation. Options include buddy up by body type, birthdays, age and goals. Buddy boards are a successful marketing tool, as well as planned or themed events.
Look at the latest programming and fitness trends and offer groups related to those trends. Set a theme for each group, such as the running club, the tri club, the weight-loss club or the Friday night happy hour club. Implement your own versions and personally invite members to attend. Happy members love belonging to a group. Several happy members will spread the word much faster than a single fan.
Sell new members for years to come
Continue to sell members on your facility long after their card has been swiped, after the contract goes through or after the draw is completed. The sale happens on day one, but you must continue selling them every day by updating your group fitness lineup often, researching the hottest trends, retaining a well-educated staff, surveying often and implementing changes based on input received. Create a members-first culture and build an empowered staff by educating, motivating and rewarding them.
About the author
Ann Gilbert, director of fitness for Shapes Total Fitness for Women, leads a team of 13 fitness managers and more than 250 personal trainers and group fitness professionals. She is a well-known presenter and has received the IHRSA/ACE Trainer of the Year Award. For the past 10 years, Gilbert has served as a faculty board member for the Fitness Academy, an educational resource for continuing education in the Tampa Bay area. She can be reached at email@example.com.