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Want To Increase Retention? Want More Referrals?

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Ed TockEd Tock

The retention process really begins as soon as the new member joins your club! It is not just a new sale but usually someone who is undergoing a behavior modification change in their life. According to industry studies, most new club members are regular non-exercisers when they first join, and 30% of them stop using your club in ONLY 3 weeks! To create a new habit of exercising, the new members need 21 days of positively reinforced behavior. Your sales team is a crucial part of your successful retention of these new members.

The sale really begins AFTER the customer has given you their money! This is also the heart of the sales system that I use and teach after having learned it from my former long-time partner in Sales Makers, Ray Gordon. This system has successfully helped clubs substantially increase their sales and retention. It is then the job of the sales team to "sell" the new member on the idea of coming to the club on a regular basis (at least once a week or more), getting some results (usually feeling good and more energy in the beginning... weight loss and muscle tone take more time and discipline) and most importantly... telling all of their friends how great they now feel since they have been exercising, which will, in turn, increase both retention and referrals.

The retention process begins with the sales team. It should be the focus of each sales person first to motivate the customer on the tour by sharing the customer's vision of what results and benefits they desire. After he becomes a member, it is the responsibility of the sales person to help keep the new member motivated and encourage him to exercise as often as possible.

To systematically increase member referrals as well as increase member retention, you need to work smart. Send a handwritten thank you note to every new member the same day they join, birthday cards to members, and thank you notes to all members referring a friend who joins the club. Everyone needs positive reinforcement, not just when they walk into your club, but especially when they are not at your club!

Recently, I attended a seminar given by John McCarthy, former Executive Director of IHRSA, and he suggested that we need to think and execute very similar to the hospitality industry and strive to give 5-star service and hospitality to all of our members. They need to feel they are getting more than just expected service (they expect you to be nice and to say hello every time they come in). We need to remember we are also in the entertainment business. We need to give all of our members, (not just the very regular exercisers) noticeably superior service!

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