As a gym owner, member retention might be the toughest part of managing your business. Members come and go, but how to keep them coming to the gym might be a challenge. With the market saturated with health clubs, many of which compete on price alone, plus the rising popularity of non-traditional fitness clubs, your members have so many choices of where to spend their fitness dollars, making it challenging to attract and retain members. Understanding your membership is crucial to your success.
The 3 types of membership
According to research published by IHRSA (The International Health Racquet Sportsclub Association) and the FIA (The Fitness Industry Association), health club membership across any club can be broken into 3 groups:
Attend your club 8 times or more per month
These members are typically self-sustaining, meaning you do not have to do a lot to keep them coming back. According to IHRSA, these members typically make up about 29% of gym memberships. They are your foundation and your brand champions, and generally will have a lot of influence in getting others to join your club.
Low usage members
Attend 4-7 times per month
They typically make up around 27% of your membership base, and while they are not particularly active, they also still see the value to the membership, but are likely not making the most out of their memberships.
Drop out/at risk members
Attend less than 4 time per month
The most likely to not renew their membership, a whopping 44% of all gym memberships fall into this category. Not all is lost, though - there are things we can do to keep members out of this high-risk group.
As you likely expect, the study suggests that attendance is highly correlated to retention. If members show up and see results, they will likely renew when their contracts are up. The first three months is the most critical time in getting members to attend the gym, as it has the most bearing on retention rates going forward: members who visit less than once per week in the first month of their memberships have a 59% chance of renewal, while those who visit 3 times or more per week have a 78% chance of renewal.
If the members from the low usage group increase their attendance during the first three months, they are 14% more likely to renew their membership when compared to those who did not increase their attendance.
Engaging membership to work in your favor
So, how do we get those in danger of dropping out to start attending more (even if they only become part of the "low usage" group), and how do we get members of the ‘low usage’ group to become "active?" I'll have four ways in Part Two of this topic.