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Would you like to renew your membership?  “Let me think about it”.  “I’ll fill out the forms next time I come in”.  “I haven’t been using the gym”.  Sound familiar?  Retention is the ability to keep your members coming back.  Getting them to continue their memberships.  Once a customer has put their faith in you it is essential that you make every effort to meet their expectations and retain them for the long term.

To a degree this can be achieved through a well organised follow up system.  The six direct media – phone, mail, fax, email, web and text – both individually and collectively are very powerful one to one communication mechanisms at your disposal. In particular, Email gives you the ability to correspond with your members quickly, personally, and for a low cost. 

Non-attendance equals non-renewal.  It is a simple equation, and one all club managers should be aware of.  If your members are not using your facility, generally they will not renew their memberships.  Email marketing is a useful tool for clubs to motivate members to attend, up sell members with new products or services, or to persuade current members to attract friends to the centre. 

           “Email gives you the ability to correspond with your members quickly, personally, and for a low cost."   

A large proportion of individuals and households now have email addresses that they check regularly.  The challenge is to build a permission-based
database of members who opt in to receive your emails, whether they are reminders, offers, newsletters or referrals. 

Consider the following email retention programme aimed at ensuring your members ongoing use of your facility.  Welcome Email.  An email welcoming the member to the facility, outlining special features that may be available during the course of their membership.  Email Survey.  An email survey asking how the member is enjoying the facility, or if there is anything you can do to be of service.  Perhaps give the member the opportunity to come in for an upgrade of their programme or an assessment. Referral Email.  Another general check up on how the member is enjoying the facility.  Perhaps giving them the opportunity to bring a friend along for a trial workout with them. Giveaway Email.  An email outlining some sort of giveaway the member can redeem by attending the facility.  Perhaps another opportunity to upgrade their programme, a sunbed, half price massage or some other perceived benefit.  With regular contact, members will see value in their membership.

Email is an easy way to ensure regular contact with members.  However, it must be understood that this medium will not suit everyone, and that a combination of approaches will be more effective than single channel marketing. 

If the steps designed to encourage members into the facility are unsuccessful, the email medium can also be adopted as part of a member rejoin campaign.  Consider the following email rejoin system as a method of reactivating those members that have terminated.  Drop Off Email. “The management are very sorry that you have terminated your membership…”   Follow Up Email.  “We thought you may be interested in the following offer that we currently have available…” Initial Phone Call.  A phone call from a membership consultant.  “Did you receive our offer?”  Giveaway Email.  Offer the member a personalised free gift, something that they can redeem on renewal of their membership.  Last Chance Email.  A final email, perhaps including a free trial if the member ever decides to come back to facility.

   “With regular contact, members will see value in their membership.”

Last Chance Call.  A final phone call from a membership consultant.  Even if you are unsuccessful in convincing the member to rejoin, take this chance to complete an exit interview to determine the member’s reasons for terminating their membership.  This is valuable information for the ongoing evaluation of the service you offer your members.

Marketing on a Shoestring

Its budget time again and all the worrying signs are there.  You require more members to cover the upcoming expenses, however, you have limited capital available to assist you in wooing potential customers.  “Marketing on a shoestring” is designed to give you marketing ideas that will attract a significant number of new members but will not cost your club the earth.

This months marketing tip:  Find- a-friend

What to do:  Hand out / give to all of your current members four free trial passes to your facility.  These passes need to reflect value, as the quality or otherwise will be a reflection on the quality of your facility.  Have the members name on all of the passes (to track referrals), and you could even have a barcode pre printed so trial members can use them as a temporary membership card.

Objective:  The objective is for your members to pass them on to their friends to encourage them to come along and trial your facility.  Once you bring these trial members in the door then it is up to your membership consultants to encourage them to join.  In the letter accompanying the trial passes, give your members encouragement to “sell” your memberships.  Consider the following as an example.

“For every trial member that joins on a 12 month term membership you will receive one months extension to your membership”
“For every 2 trial members that join on 12 month term membership you will receive one months free membership and two personal training sessions”.
Perhaps if they refer 4 friends you might even give them a weekend away or something of considerable value.  This may mean up to $4,000 to your facility, so reward them their commitment to your club.

Try this marketing tip at your club, but remember, marketing gets potential members in the door… however you must have appropriate sales systems in place to ensure they join your club!!