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Health Club Management Retention Hub

We’ve pulled together the latest retention series written for Health Club Management by leading industry experts Dr Melvyn Hillsdon, Dr Paul Bedford and Guy Griffi ths. This one- stop online shop gives you quick access to the latest thinking, stats, trends and reports in this vital fi eld.



Ignore absent members at your peril, and use your

ex-member database as a prospect list and a resource for feedback, says Guy Griffiths, in the third and final part of his series on retention and the member journey


bsent and ex-members are two under-used segments in many clubs’ databases. Not only can they provide

critical business information on how you could adapt or improve retention, but these member groups can also be a great source of sales. Fear is the main reason that these

members are not contacted: club operators worry about awakening dormant members, and are concerned that they will receive negative feedback from people who have left. But sticking your head in the sand is a much riskier alternative; if all your dormant members cancelled tomorrow, your business would be in serious trouble, and if you don’t know why members are leaving, how can you expect to make people stick around?

In the same way that the member

journey should not end after the fi rst few weeks, you need to plan what happens when a member stops visiting, and after they leave.

‘Measure’ or pay vs stay Let’s start with measurement. Knowing your average membership length is a good place to start, but ‘length of pay’ is different from ‘length of stay’. Consider a member who stops paying in month 12; it’s no good contacting them in month 11 if they last visited in month seven. At GGFit, we often work with length of stay – ie first to last visit – as it’s a truer identifier of member engagement and allows you to affect retention more directly. Another useful metric to understand is the average time from the last visit


Absent 3 weeks

We miss you

Still absent 4 weeks

Where have you been?

Still absent 5 weeks

speak Call message

Follow-up message

1. sms

1. sms

phone & sms?

sms, email, post?

phone, email, post leave

Still absent 6 weeks

We want you back!

Still absent 7+ weeks

Call again/ message/ news only

date to cancellation date – this gives you an idea of how long you have to try to re-engage a dormant member.

Who’s going to call? When deciding how to contact absent members, you need to know what’s most effective, but also take into account what’s practical or possible with the resources you have at your club. Phone conversations are most

effective at getting members back, but you will often have to make a lot of phone calls to have a few conversations, and timing is key to success. Some clubs use customer service staff or even a call centre to make these calls, but

50 Read Health Club Management online at June 2013 © Cybertrek 2013 RETENTION SERIES

Members who make a friend at the gym are less likely to cancel


friendship, reducing queueing and incorporating group exercise. Dr Melvyn Hillsdon offers his top five new year’s resolutions for clubs looking to improve member retention levels

instructors are best placed, since they have already had face-to-face member contact in the gym. Whether or not they are motivated to actually call absent members can depend on their own goals, rewards – or, to put it bluntly, job spec. If some of your instructors prefer to do cleaning rather than calling absent members, perhaps it’s time to adjust their focus or change their job spec. Properly motivated instructors should be keen to get their members back into

June 2013 © Cybertrek 2013

the club. However, if you know that other staff

will get the job done, they may prove to be the best route.

Send a message first A great way to reduce the number of calls required is to text or email members before you call them. This will bring a few back already, as well as making the calls easier – you can ask if they received the message as an

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NEW STRATEGY Targeting older members, focusing on interaction and

ice-breaker (see Figure 1 for an example of an absent member communication process). Some clubs use text/email only for

their absent member communication. This is better than nothing, but you can get a much better return rate if you check the reports from your retention communications to determine which members should be prioritised for follow-up calls. Mixing up your communication

Read Health Club Management online at 51 I 50 Read Health Club Management online at January 2015 © Cybertrek 2015 W

hat will your club do differently when it comes to member retention this year, and how might this

impact your bottom line? During 2014, Health Club Management

n this latest article in the series of reports from TRP 10,000, we report on which members purchased personal training (PT), what their main reasons were for purchasing PT and how PT is associated with visit frequency,

published a number of articles reporting on the results of the TRP 10,000 study – a longitudinal study of 10,000 members, conducted by myself in conjunction with The Retention People, which was designed to understand member behaviour at all points of the member journey, and how different factors infl uence retention. In the HCM series, we highlighted a range of factors that are positively associated with membership retention – including motivation, progress, group exercise, hassles and uplifts, and communication. In this article, we’ll pull together the

reported progress and retention. Members were asked how many PT

FIGURE 1 Estimated income over eight months based on TRP 10,000 retention data, from a sample of 1,000 members paying £50 a month

Health club members in the 25–44 age category are the most likely to use a personal trainer £44,090

Does personal training increase member

£52,000 £50,000 £48,000 £46,000 £44,000 £42,000 £40,000 £38,000

sessions they had purchased in the previous three months, with possible answers ranging from ‘none’ to ‘12 or more’. Members who purchased at least one PT session were asked what their main reason was for purchasing PT, selecting from four possible options or an ‘other’ category. Members were followed up for seven months, at which point it was recorded whether they had cancelled or not. January 2015 ©

Cybertrek 2015

Who receives PT? Overall, 10 per cent of members reported purchasing at least one session of PT in the three months prior to the survey: 4 per cent reported purchasing one to three sessions and 6 per cent purchased four or more sessions. Figure 1 shows how many sessions of PT members

lessons learned so far into a strategy for 2015. The focus will be on the fi nancial gain from improved member retention and potential memberships saved.

Data and analysis To estimate income from member dues, we’ll model the effect of retention on 1,000 members over the first eight months of membership (the follow-up period of TRP 10,000). To standardise fees, we will assume all members pay a monthly fee of £50. All members pay

retention? Dr Melvyn £45,050

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Months since joining

Hillsdon offers his insights on this topic, based on the findings of his ongoing TRP 10,000 study

the members who purchased at least one session of PT said motivation and assistance with achieving goals more quickly were the main reasons (multiple answers were allowed). A lower proportion of members

£42,720 £42,500

have purchased by gender, age group and length of membership. Females were more likely to purchase

PT than males, as were members aged 25–44 years compared to younger and older members. Mid-term members (between six and 36 months since joining) were most likely to purchase regular sessions of PT compared to new or long-standing members, with the latter the least likely to have bought PT.

Why do people purchase PT? The primary reasons for purchasing PT are shown in Figure 2. Just over half of

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the first monthly payment, yielding £50,000 (1,000 x £50), and from then on we can plot the income for every other month by multiplying the £50 monthly fee by 1,000 and then by the proportion of members still paying in the given month. So if 90 per cent of members survive the second month, the yield from membership dues would be £50 x 1,000 x 0.9 = £45,000.

reported purchasing PT to help with exercise confidence (36.7 per cent) and to get started with a programme (36.2 per cent). Other reasons given by a small number of members included

‘help with a rehabilitation programme’, ‘training for a specific event’ and ‘help with weight loss’. Females were a little more likely to say they used PT for motivation than males (57 per cent vs 50 per cent), with little difference between age groups and length of membership. The youngest age group was most

Overall yield from 1,000 TRP members? Eighty five per cent of TRP 10,000 members retain their membership for at least eight months. Figure 1 shows that the total yield from a sample of 1,000 members over the first eight months of their membership, based on the TRP 10,000 retention rate, would be £366,165. So how can this be improved?

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likely to say they purchased PT to help them achieve goals quicker; those in the oldest group were the least likely to quote this reason (63 per cent vs 43 per cent). Similarly, a higher proportion of the youngest health club members said they had purchased personal training to increase their confidence for exercise compared to older members (43 per cent vs 34 per cent).

April 2015 © Cybertrek 2015 51 £50,000 Total income = £366,165

£48,500 £47,115 £46,190 The survey showed that female members were more likely to purchase personal training services than males There was little difference in gender,

age and length of membership when it came to the proportion of members saying they purchased PT to get started with a programme, apart from members age 35–44 years who were least likely to say this (29 per cent).

Is PT associated with visit frequency? The level of PT sessions purchased is positively associated with regular club visits (see Figure 3). In addition, regular PT is associated

with a much lower level of non- attendance. On average, health club members who purchased four or more sessions of PT in the previous three months averaged 1.4 more club visits a month than members who did not purchase personal training.

Do members who receive PT report greater progress? Compared to members who don’t purchase PT, members who do purchase PT report higher levels of progress in all areas they were asked about (see Figure 4). Not only was this

April 2015 © Cybertrek 2015

FIGURE 1 Number of PT sessions purchased by gender, age group and length of membership (in months)

100% 98% 96% 94% 92% 90% 88% 86% 84% 82% 80%

7.2 4.6 5.4 7.1 6.9 5.0 5.5 7.8 7.2 3.9

3.2 6.0 5.1 4.0 4.4

3.1 3.9 5.9 4.6 3.4











Female Male

16-24 25-34 35-44 45-54

4 or more

1 to 3

None Read Health Club Management online at 41

Let the experts keep you up to speed on the latest retention trends





Income per month

< 6 months 6 to <12 months

12 to <36 months >=36

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