Members come and go, that’s just the nature of this business. Many large gyms count on having a high percentage of members not show up, but you realize the importance of keeping each and every one of your members engaged and attending class. Your business depends on these individuals continuing to pay for their membership and your community benefits from them being there as well.
While you won’t be able to keep every member who is thinking about leaving, what do you do when someone actually moves forward with cancelling their membership? How can you reach out to them and encourage them to return without being annoying?
Find Out Why They Canceled
When someone cancels their membership, or if you noticed a member didn’t renew their membership or turned off auto-billing, it’s important that you reach out and ask why they made that decision. Most of the time, they’ll be glad to tell you, and you’ll be able to make a plan for reaching out to them in the future.
For example, one member might be canceling under doctor’s orders because of an injury or health issue. In that case, you can make a note to call them in three months (or whatever the case may be) to see if they’re ready to return, or even offer to put their membership on hold until they’re ready to workout again.
Perhaps another member lost their job and can’t afford the membership anymore. You then have a strategic decision to make, do you offer to:
- Put her membership on hold until they’re employed again?
- Give them opportunities to trade work for a membership, like cleaning the gym, administrative tasks or marketing help?
- Proceed with the cancellation and plan to follow up in several months once they’re employed again?
In some cases, someone might leave because of a genuine complaint. This can be hard to hear, but it’s important. Maybe they’re just a picky person who’s prone to complaining, in which case you and your community might be better off without them. But it might be a valid concern that other members are having, too. By finding out what’s wrong–an instructor who has been slacking, a shortage of lockers or available classes–you can correct the problem before you lose any more members. You can call the former member and let them know the issue has been resolved. It might be enough to bring them back.
Remember, they always have the option to unsubscribe, so don’t do it for them (unless, of course, someone requests it). Let that monthly email keep arriving in their inbox, complete with all the fun and success stories.
Create a New List
If you send out a weekly email, that might be too much for someone who has canceled their membership. Move your cancellations to a separate email list that gets a message once a month or only on special occasions. Be sure they’re invited to your anniversary celebration, holiday workouts and other special events.
Give Them an Incentive
Every now and then, extend a special offer to former members. This could be a discount on a month’s membership and/or a companion’s membership. If they could return and bring their spouse for a lower price, not only do you get two members, these members are likely to encourage each other to keep showing up. Psychology Today says that working out with a partner not only increases the efficiency of the workout, it also improves the relationship.
Be creative with your offer. Depending on your studio format, you might be able to give returning members a free nutritional assessment or personal training session.
Do this rarely. If after a few months your former members notice there’s always a special price available for them, there’s no urgency. Put an expiration date on each opportunity.
Good Reasons to Contact Former Members
- You’re having a special event, like an anniversary party, that they can attend for free.
- You’re offering an incentive to re-join the studio.
- You’re making changes to your studio: new instructors, classes times or styles, amenities or equipment.
- You’re increasing your prices. That’s not a reason for someone to re-join, but if you increase your prices and offer your former members the opportunity to return at the old price if they do it within the next few days, that’s a good reason to contact them.
- It’s someone’s birthday! Make a habit of sending happy birthday emails (and maybe a special offer) to all members, and keep that going for anyone who stays on your mailing list.
Let your former members know you’re still thinking about them. Keep in mind that an occasional call can be more effective than an email that might not even get opened, particularly if you are following up with someone who said they would return after they’ve recovered from an injury, or if you’ve made a change that would negate someone’s reason for leaving. Bringing former members back relieves some of the pressure of continually recruiting new members.
It’s important to spot red flags long before someone cancels their membership. Discover how to help spot these red flags, as well as how to save these members from cancelling in our free guide, Gym Member Retention Warning Signs.