How to Turn First Time Fitness Customers into Regulars

Fitness customers today have countless options when it comes to getting in shape. From full-service gyms to at-home fitness apps to studios dedicated to yoga, cycling, crossfit and more, the possibilities are endless. And with many fitness centers offering first-time visitors a free week or month of membership, consumers often jump from free trial to free trial, rather than joining one fitness center for the long-term.
Given the fierce competition to attract and retain fitness center members, how can you turn your first time fitness customers into regulars? We’ve pulled together several tips to help you increase member retention.

Incentivize Dedicated Members

Some members sign up for a fitness center and only visit a few times before they cancel or simply stop going. To keep new fitness customers excited and motivated about visiting your fitness center, provide incentives for those who visit frequently. For example, if a member checks into your fitness center a certain number of times each month, consider rewarding the member with a free or discounted group fitness class or complimentary massage in your spa. Or if they check in a specified number of times in the first 90 days of membership, offer a reimbursement on the enrollment fee. The incentives will encourage members to frequently visit your fitness center and, ultimately, increase member retention.

Encourage Social Interaction

Many studies have shown that consumers are more motivated to complete workouts and reach their fitness goals if they have a friend along for the ride. While some members might prefer private personal training sessions, you should also consider offering small group training sessions, so members can get to know one another in a small, friendly setting. Once they become acquainted with one another, they’ll be excited to return and continue working toward their fitness goals with new friends.
Another option for encouraging “workout buddies” is to implement a referral program. Offer members the opportunity to refer friends in exchange for a free personal training session, discount on their monthly membership or another related incentive. When friends join your fitness center, your current members will be even more motivated to frequent the gym.

Collect Feedback

IHRSA found that while happy fitness clients tell four to five others about a positive experience, dissatisfied customers tend to tell nine to 12 others about a negative experience. This means you want to create the best experience possible or risk members sharing a poor experience with their friends and family – in addition to canceling their memberships. Make sure your members know you’re open to constructive feedback – whether it’s positive or negative. Place physical feedback forms in your gym and encourage member feedback via email and your website.  
If you receive negative feedback, make sure you respond in a timely manner and use the feedback as an opportunity to improve the customer experience across your fitness franchise. And when your members share positive feedback, you can push it out across social media channels or on your company website so even more members – and prospective members – can learn about the positive experience. The more people who see great reviews across social media, the more likely you’ll attract new members to join.

Hire Quality Employees 

One of the most important ways to retain members at your fitness center is by staffing up with quality personal trainers, group fitness instructors and front desk staff. According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), 68 percent of fitness customers have stopped working with a personal trainer because of a poor experience, meaning hiring the best team possible should be one of your top priorities. When your fitness center is equipped with great employees, customers will get excited about coming in for their next personal training session or group fitness class. The more your employees create a compelling customer experience, the less likely your members will be to leave for another fitness center.
Building your best team is critical to the success of your fitness center. For more information on hiring quality employees, download our eBook, ““Staffing Up for Success: 4 Things to Do When Hiring at Your New Franchise.”



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