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retention series


CREATING BONDS


JULIE CRAMER INVESTIGATES WAYS IN WHICH CLUBS AND LEISURE CENTRES CAN ENHANCE THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR MEMBERS


‘S


ell, sell, sell’ has been the buzzword of the past decade in terms of memberships, as the industry has experienced a prolonged period of growth. But as the UK crawls slowly out of recession, new


members are thinner on the ground. Clubs are now having to work harder to keep existing members happy and develop bonds with them. We ask a panel of experts for their advice on how to build all-important member relations.


OPERATOR INDEPENDENT


THE PANEL


RICHARD APPS: Corporate health and fitness manager, Sheffield International Venues (SIV) JOSH BICKNELL: Director, Time Fitness THIERRY DELSOL: CEO, The Club Company NIC JARVIS: Industry consultant MATT SANDERSON: Director, Woodlands Fitness Centres MARTIN VAN ASSENDELFT: CEO, M Point health club, the Netherlands NIGEL WALLACE: Director of training, Lifetime


Should clubs now be paying more attention to member relations and retention?


MATT SANDERSON: In the current economic climate, we cannot be reliant on signing up new members. Shifting your focus to member retention has its own set of challenges, but this is the path the industry should now be on. NIGEL WALLACE: As an industry issue, member retention has never been hotter. Many clubs have passively rather than actively engaged in retention strategies over the years, and never enough to embed the practice in the culture of the organisation. NIC JARVIS: Membership sales have plateaued in the past 18 months and it’s now imperative to bring about a shift towards hanging on to existing customers. What attracts people to a business and what retains them are two different things. New customers are attracted by the facilities and price – but what retains them is the performance of the product and the people who deliver it.


New memberships have plateaued, so the focus must now be on retention july 2010 © cybertrek 2010 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital 65


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