Studies show that three out of the top four New Years’ resolutions people make in the US are health-related. Starting an exercise routine is number one, weight loss is number 3 and healthy eating is number 4. Most fitness centers experience a huge number of sign-ups in January, averaging about 12% of their total sign-ups a year. However, statistics also show that 80% of new members will quit within five months of signing up. Even more specifically, the 2nd Saturday of February is the day most new members decide to quit. However, there are ways to interact with new members that support them in maintaining their memberships. In this article, we’ll look at ways to help you keep your new members after the New Year’s rush begins to fade.
Rewards and incentives can be effective ways to encourage your new members to stick with their exercise goals. However, it’s important to offer intelligent incentives, ones that accurately reflect the value of your business. One way to make your incentives effective is to offer value in exchange for commitment. Here are a few ways to offer effective rewards and incentives to your new clients.
- Offer free gear to people who work out for thirty days over a two-three month period. The prize could be as simple as a t-shirt with your brand on it. Winning it will allow new members to show that they belong.
- Try something smaller, such as week over week FTP improvement in Stages Studio earning a free coffee or juice. This is even smaller than the t-shirt but is still an effective incentive for new members.
- Instead of offering a free class to new members, add more value by offering a free seven-day trial period. It isn’t about them getting in seven workouts, but about experiencing the community and the value your fitness center offers overall. Once new members have experienced all of what your center has to offer, they are much more likely to sign up.
Support for Newbies to Your Studio
1. New Member Onboarding
If you don’t already have one, establish a protocol for introducing new members to your studio. A proper welcome protocol transitions new members from outsiders to valued community members. It empowers new members to use the space and participate safely. And, ultimately, it will reduce the workload on staff if new members know how to sign in and where everything is, etc.
2. Talk to Your New Members
Research shows just two interactions with staff and new members each month both increased attendance and boosted retention rates at six months by 17%. Creating a policy of attention and care for new members likely already aligns with how your team communicates with members. However, specifically focusing on the new members will increase your retention rate in the long run.
3. Offer Group Fitness Classes
If you offer group fitness classes, you’re already ahead of the game. The community and sense of comradery in group classes decrease the chances of dropping out by almost 60%. Specifically, those who take group classes are 56% less likely to cancel their memberships than people who exercise alone. A group exercise study looked at people who work out alone and people who worked out in groups. The exercises increased in difficulty throughout the study. There was a 40% dropout rate with those exercising alone, but 98.8% of those in the group completed the study.
Engaging New Members While Not Alienating Existing Ones
This one is key. Your existing members, the ones who use your facility year-round, might not appreciate the influx of new members. More to the point, the longer lines to sign in, use machines, or the showers can be disruptive. Their usual routine is thrown off by new people crowding classes and water stations. It’s estimated that 56% of your current members dislike the increase of new members you’ve had since January. You won’t be seeing active disagreements, most likely, just deep irritation on your original member’s faces. Remember how essential your core clients are during this period of growth. They are the ones who keep the lights on and their value to you and your center needs to be communicated to them throughout this period. Making sure you have enough staff to guide new members is key. Also consider offering more classes, if possible, since this will help to manage class size and increase connection points between old and new members. Engaging with your center’s community as a whole on social media is also an effective way to foster community. Or, a free class for long-term members this season might say a lot too.
Even with your best efforts, it’s important to have realistic goals and expectations. There will be some attrition in your new membership list. That’s simply how this cycle of New Year’s resolutions works. However, research has shown that even a 5% membership retention led to a large increase in profits—between 25%-95%. Return customers tend to make more purchases from the company over time. Plus, they engage in valuable word-of-mouth advertising. So, with a little effort and planning, you can retain new members who will become valuable customers, keep your current members happy, and healthfully grow your fitness center.