To discover why members quit your gym, you must first find out what keeps them coming back to your health club week after week. Often, people don’t leave because of anything to do with your club but because they are not seeing results or are not psychologically prepared to commit to new habits.
“If people make behavioral changes without changing their internal values, beliefs and attitudes, the new behaviors are less likely to stick when the external supports disappear,” says Dr. Lawrence W. Green, University of Texas Health Science Center.
To get results, people need to exercise regularly, and that means they need to form an exercise habit. Habits are truly our driving force in all areas of our life, and creating a habit is what keeps someone who is seeing results coming back to your club.
To ensure that your members form the habit of coming to your club regularly, address some key areas with them that will help them succeed.
Preparation. How prepared are they to start the habit of exercising? Do they have easy access to your club? Do they have workout gear they are comfortable wearing? Do they have child care if they need it, so they can come regularly to your club?
Goals. What are their short-term goals for the next 90 days or so? Do they have a motivating goal that acts as their purpose for coming to your club? Are these goals measured and realistic? Are they written down and assessable so they will stay top of mind?
Accountability/support. Do they have someone pushing them to go to the gym regularly? Who’s monitoring them if they skip a few workouts? Do they have the support of friends and family as they work toward their goals?
Plan of action and repetition. Do they have a clear plan of action that ties with their goals? Are the steps broken into manageable actions so they can form a habit around them? Are the actions easy or complicated? How can they successfully repeat the habit many times early on?
Plan ahead. What obstacles could pop up that could hinder their progress (such as personal or family illness, work stress)? What is the backup plan for when these obstacles appear? What measures need to be in place to ensure regular workouts in spite of these obstacles?
Control environment. Does their home environment support their goals? Do their food cupboards need a good cleaning out? Do they need to shop for healthier foods? Do they have a gym bag ready to grab so they can get to the health club regularly? Do they have friends who might inadvertently try to sabotage their progress?
Small steps/early wins. What steps can they start with to get the ball rolling? What is the earliest measurable “win” they could achieve by going to the gym regularly? By focusing on this small win, they can build momentum and motivation.
Keep going. What happens after they lose weight? What are their new goals to keep them motivated? What’s the new plan of action so they don’t get bored or complacent and stop coming to the gym?
Rewards. What small rewards can they use as motivation to reach certain milestones? Using rewards will help them push through the hard patches.
This list of questions may seem mammoth, but you need to help your members address these so they can form the right habits. If they get results by coming to your facility and forming the habit of exercise, then you win by creating a loyal member.
If you implement some new systems and strategies in your club to address these issues, you will get great feedback from members as they form the important habit of working out regularly at your club and getting fantastic results, which they will be happy to rave about to others.
Nalisha Patel is an industry specialist in psychology and persuasion strategies designed to increase member retention rates and boost profits for clubs. Test drive an online member retention system (which addresses the questions above) by downloading the free white paper, “Seven Wickedly Effective Ways to Get and Keep Members.”