Monday, 10 March 2014

Stay or Leave - Letter to Health Club Management March 2014

What a great article (Stay or Leave) by Mike Hill in HCM Jan 14 (p62), looking at why members leave health clubs. If operators act on this kind of research, we might be able to get somewhere with the seemingly eternal retention ‘battle’.

The two key experience areas for me in Mike’s research were members’ first few visits, and the time after leaving.

Clubs’ desire to provide “perceived value for money”, coupled with industry recommendations to visit three times a week sets-up many new members to fail before they’ve started. A new exerciser might be aiming to visit once per week, which can be a big step-up. However, if the instructor says they need to come at least three times a week to see any results, this can destroy their motivation. Once a week is better than never, and if we really must encourage people to come more often, let’s wait until they’ve built up the habit.

When members leave regardless of how difficult or easy you make it, you have a duty to find out why, and then re-engage them. We know that most established clubs have 1.5 times as many ex-members as paying members, and that 25% of those would consider re-joining (Mintel, HCM Aug 13). Sending regular communications to ex-members is a no-brainer. It will help your club improve as well as drive sales.

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