A key to any club’s success is keeping attrition rates low; it’s not sustainable to have an attrition rate of more than 50%. Most clubs end up focusing so intently on new membership sales because they do such a poor job taking care of current members. Most clubs’ pay structures and incentives are based on an outdated 1990s business model where new membership sales trumped renewals. With 19% of our population a member of a health club, consumers are now more educated, and they’ve witnessed what they don’t want: to be another number on someone’s sales board. The fitness industry is no longer a volume-based business. We have entered a completely different era of business. Results and experience, when done with purpose, heart, and soul, will trump any budget club in the market.

There should be two personal training buckets that your members fall when they join your facility. They are either clients or non-clients. All new members receive two, three, or five training sessions upfront - whatever your protocol is - to help members and staff understand hopes and expectations, discuss past experiences (particularly the obstacles that held them back from succeeding), and of course to offer a new program plan.

Here is a sample strategy for a new member system that is focused on retention:

1. A member joins the club and receives two complimentary sessions.

2. The member goes through a sales process with a trainer and trainer discusses personal training rates and options.

3. The member chooses not to buy.

4. The trainer gives the member two workouts to do on his/her own.

5. The trainer assesses the member’s:

  • Body composition
  • Mechanics
  • Performance

6. The trainer schedules the member again in four weeks for a follow-up assessment.

On top of that initial session, because our goal should be to lower attrition, all members, for the life of their membership, at no additional cost to the member, should get a chance to meet with a personal training manager every four weeks for the opportunity to ask each member two important questions:

1. Are you motivated?

2. Are you changing?

This is great way to check-in with every single member and pick them up right before they fall off. This gives members another opportunity to opt-in to your personal training program. Most clubs make the mistake of only offering members a personal training program when they receive their initial sessions with a trainer.

The most important thing to remember when scheduling your 4-week follow up with non-clients is that your follow-up is only as strong as your set-up. Meaning, make sure you have solid data to compare the next time you see this member. Make sure you give all the advice this member needs to be successful on their own. Make sure they understand implicitly what to do on their own. Basically, you want to make sure that the only reason this person might not succeed is not because you didn’t do or show them something. Give them your heart, give them your soul, show them how passionate you are even though they didn’t buy. This attitude will ensure these members will come back to see you in four weeks.

New sales will and always must be a focus, however with the fitness industry maturing, all clubs must look at their internal systems and figure out ways to retain more members.