Gym Member Retention Mistakes That Cost You Money

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People move, change jobs, get injured and pick up new hobbies. When they do, they often have to cancel their gym membership. But truly unavoidable member churn is far less common than the avoidable kind. The good news is that with a little work, gym owners can address avoidable churn and greatly improve their member retention.

But what causes avoidable churn? We’re about to tell you the top five retention mistakes and how you can make sure your gym isn’t committing them. As a bonus, we’ll also point you to a comprehensive retention guide at the end of the article.

1. Some Members Aren’t on Autopay

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The first mistake gyms make is letting members pay for their monthly membership at the check-in desk. This is costly because it allows members to evaluate the benefit of their membership each and every month. It’s also an extra step that becomes a time-consuming pain for you and your members. Members need to track you down or stand in line and wait for you to process their payment.

Paying you has to be effortless and automatic if you want to keep your members. For that reason, we recommend automating your billing and payment collections. Automating your billing is a simple process that will save you time, money and members. Gyms that make the switch report higher rates of retention, revenue and collections.

2. You’re Not Setting Goals and Tracking Progress

The next retention mistake gyms make is expecting members to stay motivated without help. Gyms with the highest rates of retention set personal fitness goals with each member and then help them track their progress. The easiest way to manage the process is by using workout tracking that is integrated with member management software. That way coaches and trainers have access to all members’ data and can monitor growth and progress.

When setting goals with members, be sure the goal setting process is continuous. Also, avoid setting goals and then never checking back in. You can set a periodic reminder in your member management software that prompts your trainers to have a quick a check-in conversation about goals and progress with each member.

3. Your Members Feel Like Just a Number

The third retention mistake is letting members feel like they are just a number to you. Since the fitness industry is booming, people have more workout choices now than ever before. But one of the easiest ways to retain your members is by making them feel appreciated and valued.

To do this, slow down and talk to your members. Actively listen to them when they tell you stories, and get to know them. As you do that, try to find ways to make them feel special. Recognize their birthdays, and congratulate them on their accomplishments that take place both in and outside the gym. The greater the personal connection you have with your members, the less likely they will be to take their business elsewhere.

4. New Members ‘Figure it Out’ For Themselves

The fourth retention mistake is expecting new members to ‘figure it out’ on their own. We often forget how intimidating a new gym can be, and asking for help isn’t natural for a lot of people. So even though memberships often come with a free consultation or training session, many intimidated new members won’t book them. That means they end up floundering for a few weeks and then canceling their membership out of frustration and disappointment.

To ensure that doesn’t happen at your gym, do what it takes to get new members integrated into your gym and community. You can offer group orientation sessions or onramp classes several times a week, or personally book those free one-on-one sessions as soon as a member joins. Then use your member management software to flag new members and follow up with them each week for the first few weeks. Do what it takes to ensure new members are comfortable with your gym and regularly coming into workout.

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5. You Manage Your Business by Intuition, Not by Numbers

The final retention mistake even smart gym owners make is managing their business by intuition alone. Sure, there’s a place for intuition in running a gym, but it’s most appropriate in the area of relationships. (Number #3 above) On the other hand, business metrics give you an actual picture of your business health and help you manage everything from your overhead costs to member retention.

To manage your gym with facts and not intuition, dive into your software-generated reports. We have free resources to help you understand your metrics and manage your business finances, but here are the big three metrics in regards to your retention.

 1. Total Members

This is an easy metric to monitor, and keeping an eye on it lets you see the steady growth of your gym.

2. New Members

This metric gives you immediate feedback on your marketing and sales efforts and should be looked at for a fixed period (weekly, monthly or quarterly).

3. Member Churn

Knowing the rate at which you lose members is critical, and it’s best to look at this metric from a month-to-month standpoint. As a gym owner, you wear many hats and are busy constantly. Finding the time to put good retention strategies in place isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.


If you want to learn more about how to better manage your retention at your gym, get your copy of our guide, Member Churn Prevention & Warning Signs.

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Shilo Lucyk

Shilo Lucyk

In her spare time Shilo enjoys teaching yoga classes, doing CrossFit® and reading anything she can get her hands on.

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