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RETENTION


members who report less progress and never get spoken to by staff. In other words, the negative effect of making only low progress is nearly completely cancelled out by always speaking to members when they work out.


Summary The amount of progress members make towards their goals and the frequency with which fitness staff talk to members are both related to the likelihood of a member retaining their membership. However, these two things are interlinked and have an additive effect on the risk of cancelling. When members receive frequent


communication from fi tness staff, they are more likely to make progress that in turn reduces their risk of cancelling. Members who receive more fi tness staff communication enjoy the exercise more and are more likely to meet new friends at the club. Frequent communication plus high progress roughly halves the risk of cancelling compared to no communication and low progress. Unfortunately, the members at the


highest risk of cancelling are least likely to receive any communication from gym staff. Staff are most likely to talk to older, long-standing members who are making good progress. This is somewhat understandable, as these members have been around long enough for fi tness staff to get to know them and are in the club more regularly than newer, younger members. Also, the older, longer- standing members are just as likely to initiate a chat as staff are with them. But the ‘at risk’ members need


targeting more to ensure they don’t miss out on essential communication with fi tness staff that could help them make progress and extend the life of their membership. This needs to be systematic and not ad hoc, as a small effect on a lot of members will save the most memberships. ●


Figure 5. Interaction between recent progress and fitness staff communication on the risk of cancelling


30 25 20 15 10 5 0


High progress Low progress


30 23 19 19 13 18 14 14 15


Never


Occasionally


Frequently


Always “Frequent communication plus high progress


roughly halves the risk of cancelling compared to no communication and low progress”


Figure 6. Seven-month risk of cancellation by level of progress and frequency of fitness staff communication


25 20 15 10 5 Never Occasionally Frequently Always


“If all low progress members were spoken to at least frequently, 10 per cent of


cancellations each month would be avoided” So what should operators do?


• Ensure members frequently receive support, encouragement and motivation towards their goals from fi tness staff


• Ensure staff recognise the importance of goals that are


not just around physical and physiological objectives – enjoyment or social goals, for example


• Ensure members receive regular reviews of their progress and


• Develop a strategy for identifying high risk members


• Encourage staff to talk to all members, not just those at


that fi tness staff should prioritise for interaction


lowest risk of cancelling 58 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital subsequent programme updates


Melvyn Hillsdon 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.


November/December 2014 © Cybertrek 2014 Risk of cancelling by progress and fi tness interaction


Low progress High progress


Risk of cancelling (%)


Cancellation rate per 1000 members/month


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