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retention software


Kate Cracknell asks a selection of operators for their verdict on the retention software systems installed in their facilities

declan ryan

owner, active4less

software: clubwise

My club is a 1,400sq m (15,000sq ft) dry facility in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, offering a gym, three studios, squash courts, sauna, steam and massage rooms. For eight years the club operated as a mid-market facility. It was moderately successful but, over recent years, had competed against newer multi-site operators. Two years ago, after much research and deliberation, I converted it to a budget operation charging monthly fees of only £12.95. I started using Clubwise software fi ve

years ago – it’s an integrated solution that can support almost all key areas of health club administration. It offers a fully confi gurable active customer relationship module (ActiveCRM), which we use to remain in contact with members and promote retention. This saves time by automating all standard communication with our members, from welcome emails to messages at key stages in a member’s lifecycle.

favourite software feature

What really differentiates Clubwise is its commitment to developing fully integrated online systems for joining, booking and member communication.

results achieved

Two years ago, we had almost 800 members on a mix of monthly rates, varying from £33 down to promotional rates as low as £10. Two years on, our membership has grown exponentially while our operational and staffing costs have been cut. We no longer have a membership contract, yet our retention has improved over the last two years: in 2008, our annual attrition was 64.3 per cent, or 5.35 per cent a month; in 2009, this had reduced to 62.1 per cent annually or 5.18 per cent monthly. We all acknowledge that the industry

is not very good at sharing information, but I believe these fi gures hover around the industry average. I’m also confi dent

Active4Less no longer has contracts, yet retention has improved over two years

they will improve with further focus on retention over the next 12 months. Clubwise software directly improves

retention via the Active CRM. However, it also indirectly improves retention by dramatically reducing administrative tasks, freeing staff up to spend more time with members and deliver health and fi tness services; although we’re a low- cost operator, we still offer more than 100 group classes every week, largely run by our fi tness staff and personal trainers and all included in the monthly fee, as I believe this promotes retention. For a low-cost operator, this freeing

up of staff time is critical to long-term profi tability. But software can’t do everything: motivated and enthusiastic staff remain a critical element of our member retention strategy and we invest heavily in staff training. If low- cost operators reduce costs by cutting qualifi ed fi tness staff and replacing them with security staff or even going to an unstaffed model, I fear only very self- motivated members will be retained.

if i could change one thing…

As I mentioned earlier, I strongly believe that member retention is

52 Read Health Club Management online

heavily dependent on regular positive interactions with staff. I’m therefore looking to change the way I pay my staff, moving from a fi xed annual wage to an income consisting of fi xed pay rates for set tasks carried out within the club. It’s easy to envisage how one could

reward staff for common activities such as cleaning, equipment maintenance, classes or giving a seminar talk. But a large proportion of their time will – and should – still be spent on the gym fl oor, as this will undoubtedly improve member retention. Based on the improved retention fi gures, I would expect increased revenues, meaning I could pay more and retain good staff. However, to pay staff based on

achieving agreed targets for interactions and effectiveness of those interactions would, at present, require two separate packages to link with each other: there are standalone packages on the market that track interactions between staff and high-risk members, while Clubwise has the ability to automate timesheets for staff based on logging in and out. Bringing the two together would provide a means of automating the management of my proposed new type of pay structure.

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