30 August 2022

The impact of recognition on your bottom line

For the majority of gyms, when a member first joins they get a lot of "love" and attention. Many are lavished with freebies and merch, but then the attention and recognition begins to drop.

When it comes around membership renewal time, many members find themselves paying the same as the previous year (or even more), but for a perceived lesser experience.

Mega entrepreneur and gym expert Alex Hormozi describes your "EFTs" (a common US term for recurring memberships) as the "cake" in your "wedding cake". Keeping your members renewing and feeling valued is an important element of building a successful, sustainable business.  Doing it right isn't hard, but it is something to which the vast majority of training gyms pay very little attention.

Whilst we are an industry that loves to focus on feeding "new blood" in the front end, the easy wins remain with retaining your existing members. The sales 'gurus' will argue that one or two percent difference in retention makes little difference to your bottom line, but this is a fallacy solely to support their own interests. You should, of course, be doing both - and doing both well.

The good news is that there are a vast number of ways in which you can keep your members engaged and valuing the product you provide, many requiring very little effort with the right tools & processes in place.

Operate from a position of knowledge

It may sound obvious, but unless you know what is going on in your business and with your members, there is little chance that you're going to be able to provide them a high-quality and proactive level of service, let alone one driven by data. It is incredible in this day and age how many gyms don't record the attendance of their members. Bookings do not necessarily equate to sessions attended.

The more data you maintain for your members, the more knowledge you have about them - and the more readily you can track and celebrate their progress.

Effort vs achievement

Many gyms tend to focus upon the achievements a member chalks-up, often determined during quarterly old-school "assessment weeks". This is ok as far as it goes (and certainly better than nothing), but is increasingly out-of-kilter with the Gen 3. style of personal fitness training. Whilst some members love being tested and seeing their progress, there is a greater percentage of the population for whom this raises pressure and anxiety. Consequently, many of those people will skip their assessments and, as a result, will receive less acknowledgement of their progress.

It is no accident that Myzone's strapline is "Effort Rewarded". They understand that it is effort that leads to results. Of course, a member that puts in the effort will naturally achieve results. It is therefore important to celebrate effort as much (if not more so) than it is to celebrate achievements.

There are a vast number of different ways in which you should be engaging with your members, many of which will directly impact their perception of the service they receive from you and their likelihood to i) keep attending, and ii) keep renewing.

Reward loyalty

When you have a new member join, the chances are that you give them a boat load of goodies. You give them a branded gym t-shirt (likely costing you less than a tenner), and they love it. They wear it for a while, happy to show-off their membership to your 'community', and merrily promoting your business all the meanwhile.

Now, what happens then it comes up to renewal time? Typically this important point comprises little more than "I see your membership is up for renewal, Janice. Are you good to keep going?" Not exactly an inspiring interaction, and one of zero perceived value to the member. They're just paying the same as last year (if not an RSI adjusted increase) for seemingly less.

It is here that almost every gym I can think of is missing an easy trick. One or two of the more savvy might give their members an updated t-shirt, but is this anything special?

It is very easy to create a unique piece of apparel or other object that is earned over the duration of a contiguous membership. Large organisations such as Microsoft, Google, etc. all do this with their employees - for the very reason that it helps establish and build loyalty. [Microsoft loyalty awards shown below]

Microsoft awards

An example of a good loyalty award for a member could be a nice quality, embroidered cap with a 1-year; 2-year; 3-year; etc. graphic on it. Similarly, it could be something like a nice custom made enamel badge/pin. It could also be a t-shirt, but these tend to have a lesser lifespan and are less 'collectable'.  The graphics can be readily and affordably put together by someone on Fiverr, and the product would still typically cost in the ballpark of £10-15. 

The major difference is that member now has something that they have earned. It isn't available for purchase, and it is only provided to members that have reached that milestone. It is collectable and something they can show off with pride. Moreover it distinguishes them amongst the other members, and new members can more readily identify and reach-out to the long-timers for support or guidance.

Tracking effort and achievements

There are an almost endless number of ways in which modern, Gen. 3 SGPT gyms track the efforts and achievements of their members. The only way to manage this effectively and at scale is to use a corresponding gym management system, such as Quoox GMS Ultimate.

A Myzone belt is a great tool for encouraging effort and providing normalised metrics against which members at different levels can compare their effort and progress. The new generation of training gym not only recognises the benefits of these devices, but many now actively include a Myzone belt for the member as part of their membership. This requires a small outlay by the facility up-front, but the benefits can be considerable - not only in terms of the member's perception of your facility, but also the results they then go on to achieve.

The days of a trainer yelling "red, Red, RED" at bemused members is (thankfully) becoming history. A good trainer knows how to use Myzone properly and how to educate their members to achieve the best results.

It is important to acknowledge and celebrate waypoints, such as a member having moved Myzone ranking or having logged a particularly high MEP count. By integrating Myzone with a modern gym management app, much of this can be triggered automatically and a member's efforts need never go missed again.

With achievement coming as a direct result of attendance and effort, it is important to also encourage and celebrate attendance. Akin to the annual loyalty award, members should have their session attendance acknowledged. This might start on their 10th session attendance, then might be their 50th; 100th; 250th; 500th; 1000th etc. With the right management system in place, this can be wholly automated, or partially automated to include a personal element into the process.

Barely scratching the surface

The time where a gym owner could afford the luxury of dismissing data with a wave of the hand and utterance of "I'm not into IT" is coming to an end. As the third generation of small group training gym emerges, data gathering and smart, proactive triggers are an essential part to providing a quality service to the member.

Most modern training gyms operate in excess of 50 different touch points with their members. This results in the quality of service that members deserve and increasingly expect. Delivering this at scale, in an efficient manner is something readily achieved through use of the right gym management software.

Written by Chris Windram.


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