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Scott Poston, M.S.

Founder & President

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The Overlooked Aspect of Retention

The holy grail of club management is member retention. We discuss it, study it and work hard to improve it. But one aspect of engagement that is often overlooked is member behavior, especially in your fitness program.

Members help us grow our clubs, but in some ways they can drive other members away. We all have those members who are extremely high users or have been members for many years, and they feel entitled beyond the new members. Here are five steps you can take to address your fitness program member environment and, by extension, improve your retention rates.

1. Clearly define the environment you want your members to experience. Spend some time thinking about how your fitness center is going to “feel” to members. Knowing the atmosphere you want to have will help you and your prospects get off to a good start, beginning with the personal training staff running the desk.

2. Train staff on how to approach and coach members who are violating policy. Having to correct members' exercise form is not typically something staff like doing. Continual coaching and role-playing are important, but it’s as important, if not more so, for the staff to see upper management enforce policy in the right way. Defining for the staff what they should deal with themselves, versus what should be reported, is also key.

3. Control the environment. A surefire way for more timid members to get run over is to allow members to decide things like TV channels and music stations. These things should be set by management and only changed by management.

4. Have a clearly defined progressive discipline plan. A poorly behaving member can drive away a lot of good members.

5. Develop a welcoming plan. Educate your staff on how you want to welcome new members to your fitness center and establish expected behaviors in each of the member touch point departments that all members feel comfortable and welcome.

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