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Returns policy As with a either freeze membership or
fi nanced car, you still have to payments for a period of time, so
pay your membership, even that the member can get back on
if you’re not using the gym his or her feet.”
Richard Apps: “In this
We ask our panel of experts economic climate, you have to
(see ‘contributors’ box, p57) for offer more choice and work with
their thoughts on the likelihood of customers to provide the service
membership cancellations in the they want and can afford. We’ve
current economic climate, what started a new campaign offering
you can do to avoid the situation three- to six-month contracts and
arising in the fi rst place, and how a ‘pay as you go’ option; not tying
to handle them should they occur people in for 12 months gives
during these tricky times. them more security. We listen to
our members and would look at
luxury or necessity? transferring them to a different
Paul Ramsay: “We’ve seen an contract or freezing their
increase in attrition over the last membership if necessary.”
few months, which we put down Barry Cronin: “We offer
to the current climate. However, payment holidays for three
we’re launching a new member months in certain circumstances
integration programme to reduce to help people who are struggling
attrition. This will see all fi nancially. Although we have
members inducted to the club various strategies in place to
over three separate sessions to try People are seeing their retain memberships, for us it’s really
and establish exercise as part of their about adopting a fair and ethical
weekly routine.”
fi tness club membership not
attitude to benefi t our members.”
Carl Wood: “Unfortunately, for
as a luxury, but as a
Carl Wood: “We’ve taken the
the fi rst time in 12 years, due to the unprecedented step of protecting
current economic climate, some
necessity for both their
ourselves by offering members a
members have felt the need to discounted long-term contract, while
cancel their membership, making us physical and mental health improving the quality of provision for
realise that, no matter how good our our loyal members.”
products and services, they were at risk during a recession.” Stephen Aucott: “We’re experiencing more enquiries where
Stephen Aucott: “Gym membership is a vulnerable part of people are bartering off the back of the economic conditions. We
personal expenditure, especially for those not getting value out have to be strong and believe in our product, which has cost us
of it. For them, [the economic crisis] could be the excuse they some sales, but I think it will pay dividends later.”
need to justify dropping it to themselves.”
Eric Keller: “I think that, regardless of economic times, fi tness let them go: they’ll come back
club memberships have always been vulnerable to the ‘payment Stephen Aucott: “Retention is not about how many
with usage’ mindset – people feel they should be allowed to members you turn around at the cancellation stage – it
cancel if they’re not using their membership. However, more happens from the enquiry and at every point where the
and more, people are seeing their fi tness club membership not member has contact with the club and the team. Cleanliness,
as a luxury, but rather a necessity for both their physical and maintenance and good service go above and beyond
mental health.” expectation whenever possible. If they do decide to cancel,
Barry Cronin: “There was a time when many would see gym fi nish their membership on a high note and give them every
membership as a luxury, but I don’t believe that’s still the case. opportunity to want to come back to you when their
The idea of staying healthy is so ingrained in a lot of people’s circumstances change.”
psyche that they will go without something else rather than Barry Cronin: “If people lose their job, move house or have
part with their memberships.” diffi culty paying, then as long as they have confi rmation of
Terry Gibb: “We’re talking about people’s health and this from an independent source, we will allow them to walk
wellbeing, which I hope is something they value.” away from their 12-month contract at a moment’s notice. This
approach works well for us: currently around 75 per cent of
flexible options? joiners are returning clients.”
Stephen Aucott: “In recent times, we’ve had several
construction workers cancel due to the downturn in their tough but fair
sector. In response, we’ve kept their membership open and Terry Gibb: “We’re very clear in our sales advisor training,
used their skills to work on the presentation of the club in a which says they should never sign someone up to a 12-month
short-term ‘artisan’ membership scheme – free membership in agreement if they’re not fully committed to exercise and
return for their work. Many have now found alternative physical activity. I would refer to Sky and cellphone providers:
employment and we’ve kept them as members.” they make it clear the agreement is for 12 or 24 months and,
Eric Keller: “Some of our club owners offer options to as everyone is aware from day one, there are no problems.
58 Read Health Club Management online june 2009 © cybertrek 2009
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