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Clubs should create a ‘conversation culture’, maximising opportunities for face-to-face communication with members Fig 4: Retention rate by level of face-to-face communication


100 90 80 70 Months since joining Either staff communication


Fig 5: Retention rate by external communication 100


90 80 70


0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Both staff communication


Months since joining No external communication No staff communication


A plan of action Members primarily value face-to-face communication from both reception and fitness staff; members receiving such communication have significantly higher retention rates. However, despite this impact on retention, fewer than half of members say that reception and fitness staff spoke to them at their last visit. Emails are also valued by around two-


thirds of members, but again 45 per cent of members do not receive them. On the other hand, 32 per cent of members who do not value emails received them, and there’s some evidence that this may increase the risk of cancelling. Other forms of communication – such


as courtesy phone calls, texts and social media interactions – are less popular overall, but in some groups are still valued. However, external communications generally appear not


May 2014 © Cybertrek 2014


• Develop a targeted communications strategy designed to maximise


to be targeted to specifi c demographic groups, or to really take account of the fact that individual members will prefer certain forms of communication to others, and often seem to be unrelated to length of membership or visit frequency. The low overall level of external communication, along with this lack of targeted and tailored messages, may explain why such communication is not associated with membership retention. Based on these fi ndings, our recommendations are as follows:


• Create a conversation culture within the club – implement methods to


opportunities to interact with members, both within and outside of the club.


• Identify preferences – consult with members to understand how and when


maximise face-to-face communications.


• Target emails – ensure emails are only sent to those members who value them.


they want to be communicated with. If nothing else, work in line with the preferences identifi ed in this article.


• Restrict unsolicited phone calls – only call those who want to receive them. ●


Melvyn is associate professor of exercise and health at the University of Exeter, where he researches physical activity and population health. Since his landmark retention report in 2001 (Winning the Retention Battle), his research into retention and attrition has led to the development of appropriate measures of retention, attrition and longevity that provide data for operators that can directly inform business decisions. In partnership with TRP, he has published numerous reports into the determinants of membership retention.


Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital 61 At least 1 external communication


Proportion still members


Proportion still members


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