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RETENTION


Seasoned members will calculate the cost per workout rather than cost per day of membership


some respondents explaining how they weighed up the attractive lower costs against other factors such as equipment availability; price alone was not enough to guarantee member retention. Comments included: “There was a lot of equipment, but there were also a lot of people there and it took me 20 minutes longer than usual to do my workout. I can’t afford that additional time.”


Member-staff interaction The value of interactions is now well documented and can lead to a significant boost in retention in all areas of a club. However, where it’s most prized –


and therefore where it contributes most to perceived value for money of the club as a whole – is when the interaction is personal and provides opportunities to move the member closer to their goals or outcomes. It appears that members value positive


comments about exercise performance highly. This occurs in class and gym settings when individual encouragement is given to a member about performance or effort. Although still accepted, generalised praise – ‘good job, well done’ – appears to have less value. Members also create hierarchies of


importance relative to what they want and why they come to the club. If they join to do pilates, for example, they place a higher value on interactions delivered by the pilates instructor than in other areas of the club: interaction with the pilates teacher is seen to be of more value than an interaction at reception. Indeed, while members generally


place a high importance on interaction at reception, interaction while they are physically active has an even higher perceived value – perhaps because it’s less expected. “You expect reception to say hello – isn’t that’s why it’s called reception?” observed one respondent. New members generally report feeling let down after the fi rst few weeks. They


describe the initial experiences in the same way they describe starting a new relationship: after the initial courting process, they realise the relationship is more of a fl ing than anything substantial. “It would be nice if the person who


did my induction would just say hello. They swan around being all cool with the next new member and you realise they’re just not bothered about you,” said one respondent. Experienced members, meanwhile,


are fully aware of this honeymoon period and are less affected by the lack of support they are often promised when joining. However, even among this group it appears that, where good service is delivered, it’s highly valued by members. The opportunity to converse and feel part of a club is a key reason


It would be nice if the person who did my


induction would say hello. They swan around with new members and aren’t bothered about you


44 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


members quote for staying at their club and recommending it to others.


Conclusion People who join clubs with no previous gym experience are easier to sell to and have higher expectations about their club usage. They are also much more likely to be influenced by the look of the club than seasoned exercisers. Seasoned club members are more


precise about what they want and less infl uenced by the elements that ‘wow’ the less experienced. They want more of what’s important to them, at times that are convenient to them, and at a price they can justify paying. ●


Paul Bedford PhD has worked in the fi tness industry for more than 20 years. His business, Retention Guru, helps health club operators increase retention, reduce attrition and improve member loyalty. Email paul-retentionguru.co.uk Twitter @guru_paul Linkedin Paul Bedford


November/December 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


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