Friday, 1 September 2017

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Gym Members

Habit: a settled or regular tendency or practise, especially one that is hard to give up!

Let’s talk about habits. Some of the time we are trying to give up habits, whereas other times we’re trying to form or develop habits. There’s confusion here straight away – are we talking about a good habit or a bad habit, and isn’t good or bad subjective anyway?

A favourite ‘management’ read of many fitness industry people is Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Today, we’re talking about habits of new and regular gym goers, in particular those members who join and stick at it.

In the fitness industry, we often talk about ensuring people build the exercise habit, but what exactly do we mean by this, and how do we measure how it is working?

Here’s our version of the 7 habits of highly effective exercisers…

  1. Visits. Clearly the biggest factor in building the exercise habit is visiting regularly. Don’t tell the new member that they need to visit 3 times a week; instead ask how often they’ll visit, and help them to meet their own goal. The best way to do this is by raking a note of their target (if they can note it down too, even better) and check in and congratulate them next time you see them.

  2. Face-to-face interactions.
    OK, a few members arrive (and leave) with their headphones in. Some other are just a little shy. (These are bad habits that we’re looking to break.) But everyone should get at least one, preferably several face-to-face interactions on every visit to the club. A great technique for this is the 3-metre rule – smile and say “Hi” to any member (or staff) that you pass around the club.

    If you don’t get members (and staff) into this habit, you’ll find it very difficult to ensure all members have regular programme reviews…

  3. Regular Programme Reviews.
    The key interaction for every member, which should always be a positive experience. An opportunity to re-evaluate goals, celebrate results, discuss exercises, motivation, and nutrition, get referrals, check on any complaints, etc. At the end of each review, do not let the member leave without setting the date for the next review appointment. Not in 4-6 weeks (unless you really have the staff resource to deliver), but when the member wants their next review. If the member is in the habit of having regular reviews, they’ll look forward and work towards the next one.

  4. Classes.
    They’re not for everyone, but those new members who do join classes form the exercise habit quicker, and stay longer. Try to persuade every new member to try a class, and try repeatedly. You won’t always succeed, but you’ll win by converting a few members, and they’ll build the habit quicker.

  5. Referrals. One of the best habits is getting your members to bring friends to your club. Especially when this is a truly repeatable habit and they bring new friends each time. Not only does it mean more potential new members, it also helps the referring member to stay longer as they are working out with their friends.

  6. Reading messages.
    Or more accurately, receiving, opening, reading, and acting upon messages. We’re talking emails, sms, newsletters, journey messages, with links and options to share. Your communications need to be interesting and worthwhile for the member to look forward to, open and read. The industry average email open rate is around 20%. If you’re not closer to 50%, take a good hard look at your content.

  7. Feedback.
    However you collect member feedback (cards, programme review forms, email surveys, sms quick response codes, or in club terminals), you need to get new members in the habit of giving feedback and build on it. Feedback on the feedback, tell members about actions you’re taking to build the feedback habit loop.

Build these habits into your members and staff, and you will not only improve your member retention, but make your club a happier place to work and visit.

What additional habits do you practice, or try to get your members into? Please add your thoughts in the comments below…

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