Operational Excellence Part 2: Welcoming & Exiting Athletes

6 min read


adventure athletes on couch

adventure athletes on couch

Operational excellence is about effectively running your business so that your athletes and staff are thriving and happy, while you maximize your income potential. This is part two in a seven part series.

As you know, first and last impressions are critical. So having a process for welcoming and exiting athletes is an important step in operational excellence. Doing a good job of bringing athletes in and kindly and attentively transitioning them out ensures everyone has a positive and consistent experience, which will lead to better retention and a higher percent of member returns.

Welcoming New Athleteswelcoming new students

When you have incoming athletes, the most important thing to do is ensure they are informed, welcomed and up-to-speed as quickly aspossible. Here are the best ways you can go about making sure you hit the mark on all three areas.

Welcome Packet

We think welcome packets are one of the best ways to onramp new athletes. Welcome packets are easy to put together and consistently impress athletes who receive them. Check out what you should include in a welcome packet and how best to put one together.

Proper Introductions

Personal connection is so important, and you have the ability to provide it for your new athletes. Be sure to introduce them when they come in for class, and also post a welcome for them on social media. The more connected and integrated into your community you can get your new athletes, the happier they will be.

bears cf gymAutomated Emails

In addition to a welcome packet, we suggest setting up a short series of automated emails to help your new athletes transition into classes. Since the early days of being a member are often the most crucial for setting up a habit of success, your emails will go a long way towards ensuring a perfect landing. Consider sending at least an email a week for the first few weeks. Include motivating tips, class descriptions and coach profiles. Makes sure the tone of your emails is warm and welcoming to give your new athletes a reason to get excited about their WODS.

Onramp Schedule

Whether you do onramp or beginner classes or help new athletes by coaching them privately through the basics, ensure they have the proper foundations before they jump head first into your regular classes. It goes without saying that novice athletes can easily become discouraged or get injured without going through a proper onramp.

Automated Check-In Reminders

Like those automated emails, automated reminders to check in with your new athletes will set you apart from your competitors. All you need to do is set the reminders for the transition period- maybe weekly, for 6-weeks- and you’ll remember to take time to ask how new athletes how they are doing.

If you think this is a great idea but don’t have the time to personally manage the process, you can set the reminder for your coaches. When they log into your athlete management software, they’ll get the reminder and responsibility for reaching out to see how your new athletes are doing. Pro retention tip: consider assigning each athlete to a specific coach to ensure they’ll continue to get personalized attention, even after they been at your gym for a while.

Skillfully Exiting Athletes

While welcoming new athletes is a lot more fun than exiting them, exits done well can pave the way for an athlete’s return.

Exit Interview or Survey

Just like when an employee leaves, an exiting athlete can tell you a lot about what’s going well and how you can improve. If your athlete gives their notice in person, you can ask them for feedback. Practice active listening, of course, or the whole process will be for naught. Also be responsive and caring if a complaint surfaces. If your athlete puts in their notice through email or tells a coach, send an automated email with a link to a survey. If you get feedback from a survey, be sure to thank the athlete for their time and input.

Automated “We Miss You” Emails

Too many times boxes let athletes walk away without a backward glance. Don’t let that be you by using your automated email capabilities to send periodic emails to keep in touch. To avoid being spammy, we suggest not sending more than one email a month. Once again, be upbeat and warm, and if it feels right, use some humor. You can also include a “come back” incentive or discount to entice them into returning.

Giving your athletes a consistent and positive experience by skillfully transitioning them in and out will help with retention and provide an open door for their return.

Looking for additional ways to keep your new members happy? Get your copy of our Athlete Retention Guide.

Box Member Retention Warning Signs

About the Author: Kelli Sweeting

I'm Coach Kelli, a devoted CrossFit gym owner with 15 years of experience managing my facility, along with owning yoga studios and wellness centers. Beyond the fitness world, I have a passion for cooking, cherish moments with my children and family, and find joy in spending time outside. Having experienced the highs and lows, I'm dedicated to leveraging my expertise to help you grow and succeed on your fitness journey.