Around this time of year, almost everything you read from fitness or wellness companies will be talking about preparing for the influx of new members due to New Year’s resolutions. While you should definitely be preparing for the potential mass rush of new leads and members, there’s another group of people that are even more valuable to your business: Your current members.
In this blog, I'll both broadly and specifically review three member-centric techniques that can give you an edge over your competition when it comes to having sustainable business growth. (BTW:If this member-centric topic interests you, definitely check out the e-book Club OS wrote on the secret to growing your gym or fitness business.)
What you should be expressing to your members.
1) Keep their attention.
As I said earlier, you can’t focus all of your energy on growing your membership numbers without damaging the relationship you have with those already paying you money. Not only should you not neglect your existing members, but you should have segmented and automated communications that go out to them on a regular basis.
These communications don’t always have to be email-based. They can be texts (use sparingly), phone calls, social media, in-person, etc. How you communicate is up to you, just make sure you’re doing it in good times and bad. Your members are your extended family and oftentimes all they want is simply to hear from you. This type of communication goes a long way in creating a sense of community at your business.
Also, let’s not forget about the power of novelty. As humans, we’re built to like consistency and familiarity, but we also like to shake things up because our brains can get bored easily. At your business you’ll want to put effort into keeping the spark alive with your members. Introduce new machines, new classes, new events, new health/fitness data, new staff members, etc. You get the idea. Your facility is not just a place for current members to workout. It’s also, for example, the place where they get great nutrition advice or updates on the latest fitness techniques.
Great communication also provides an opportunity to focus on your brand voice and presence. No matter what type of fitness business you are, you should always be thinking about your brand and how your brand’s voice is portrayed in public and specifically to your members. When talking to your members, you can communicate on a more personal level because you already know things about them. And it's thanks to that knowledge that your communications with your members should never feel like your company is talking at your members. Knowing what to say, when, and how can be difficult, (see how to make it easier) but it’s also another example of why segmenting your members and then automating some of your communications can be so beneficial.
2) Act as a curator.
I’ve already mentioned the benefit of providing novelty. An extension of that, as well as building community, is acting as a curator for your members. What do I mean when I say you should become a curator? The actions you take as a curator can be many, but the goal is to provide a level of service (by way of interesting and relevant products, events, etc.) to your members that an app or some gym down the street that gives good gyms a bad name can’t match. This in-turn will increase your retention rate, build member loyalty, and help to create a stronger community (and also bring in more $!).
Being a curator doesn’t always mean one-on-one communication or that the object being curated is free. You can use curation as another way to provide better upselling and cross-selling options. Just because they’re paying their monthly membership fees doesn’t mean there isn’t room to generate additional revenue by offering them things they want. This type of selling will work even better because you’ve created a community. You know what types of products or services your members will like, and you’ve been communicating with them on a regular basis.
Having the right types of products and services to curate will also help with repeat purchases. The more you can count on members buying these curated items or experiences, the more extra revenue and member loyalty you can count on.
And don’t forget that it’s win-win as you’re providing things your members want. Be creative. Curate products and experiences they can’t get just anywhere. Can you partner with another business to create something exclusive? If you’re a gym you could make your own protein powder with a reputable company. If you’re a yoga studio you could focus on finding interesting products related to your business and the things your members already like and buy. Even if you’re already selling products, are they contributing the revenue numbers you’d like? To be a true curator, you have to offer your members unique experiences and products. Don’t offer them things they can get at Wal-Mart.
3) If issues arise, don’t delay!
When a member contacts you, whether positively or negatively, try to respond as quickly as possible. Just like any talented sales person will tell you, if you don’t respond to inquiries quickly, you’ll most likely lose the sale. The same can be said of issues that arise from your existing members - except losing a member is way worse than losing a sale. We’ve all heard the sales maxim “it’s easier to keep a customer than find a new one.”
In an effort to "nip things in the bud" you should also ensure that your members know you want to hear from them even when things are good. Aside from helping to grow your community and member loyalty, it’s also possible that in these casual communications you’ll be able to pick out and correct issues before they even arise.
And when it comes to differentiation between you and your competitors, don’t forget about the personal touch and positive experiences you can provide with customer service as it’s related to both novelty and curating positive experiences. You can’t necessarily be available 24/7 to your members, but someone or something can be. You could consider partnering with a company like GymPhone so that whenever someone calls after hours at least the phone will be answered.
However, you should also set communication expectations. If you say you’ll respond to messages within 24-hours, you better respond to messages within 24-hours. If you don’t have the answers within 24-hours, you need to update the member to let them know. If you’re a smaller gym or fitness business with competitive monthly rates then you can set certain expectations that higher priced gyms can’t as they’re charging a premium for a certain level of service. The point is, find out what you can reasonably handle in order to offer the best customer service possible and then fill in any gaps from there.
If you set these types of communication expectations with your members then you need to stick to them. Of course, you can be flexible with the expectations you make of yourself if it benefits the member, but you can’t be flexible with the communication expectations you set with the member.
- Keep your members interested with relevant and consistent communication and don’t be afraid to throw in some novelty.
- Act as a curator and offer things they like. These “things” don’t have to be physical, you can also offer experienced-based curation (events, get-togethers, etc.). And make sure what you offer can’t be easily found anywhere else.
- Respond quickly whenever problems arise. Create and stick to your response commitments.
And for help with all of this, check out Club OS. It’s software that was built exclusively to help gyms and fitness businesses increase revenue and improve retention. 2,500+ other gyms can’t be wrong. Learn more here.