Why You Must Focus on Gym Retention Before Marketing Your Business

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how to retain gym members

If you’re putting a budget towards marketing your business but haven’t nailed down the processes around turning prospects into paying members, and members into lifelong members, I’m here to tell you to stop. Creating awareness is almost irresistible, especially when you’re first starting out, but without the proper systems in place to ensure new members become lifetime members, you risk creating a business dependent on churn. A flow-through business doesn’t provide much stability for you as the business owner and your community will be lacking. Before you dump any more money into creating awareness, here are four areas to evaluate to make your marketing dollars go further.

1. Measure Churn and Retention Rates

Measuring current membership churn and retention rates will give you a sense of where you currently stand. These two metrics will give you a clear picture of how many members you’re losing over a given period of time, and who has stuck around. With this information, you can identify gaps in your established processes and start making incremental changes.

For more on calculating these rates, check out our guide, 7 Essential Strategies for Member Retention
2. Focus on First Impressions

First impressions go a long way. Don’t let this be dependent on the day or class that your new members come in. You should have systems in place to provide a consistent and positive experience for each person that comes through your door. For most prospective members, this starts before they even visit your facility.

Many prospects visit your website for schedule and registration details before stopping by the facility. Make sure your website is professional and an accurate representation of your business. If prospects register for a class, make sure they receive a confirmation email with detailed instructions on what to expect when they arrive. It’s also important that your staff are attentive and can communicate the value of your business while easing nerves for first time visitors. Take the time to set forth expectations to staff on how new members should be welcomed into your space.

3. Follow Up

I once visited 28 studios in 14 days to familiarize myself with the fitness scene in Denver. I was shocked when at the end of those two weeks, I had only received follow up communication from one studio.

If you do the basics well, you’re better off than 50% of your competition. Follow up with people who visit your gym. This can be enhanced with a mix of automated emails and a personal touch from staff. One of the most exemplary examples of this was a handwritten note I received after my trial at BackCountry CrossFit ended, thanking me for checking out their box. While they went above and beyond, a simple automated email goes a long way.

4. Analyze and Adjust

Refer back to your baseline measurements and grade yourself based on that. It’s a common adage that, “that which isn’t measured, doesn’t improve.” These metrics provide feedback on how you’re doing, positive or negative. Tweak and improve your processes until you’ve built a business that can ensure long-term success for new members that come through the door and for you as the business owner. Having the proper systems in place before you spend money creating awareness can be the difference between a drop in and a lifelong member.


Looking for additional tips to help you retain the members you’ve worked so hard to get? Download your free copy of our guide, 7 Essential Strategies for Member Retention.

gym member retention guide

rick siegriest

Rick Siegrist, Market Development Representative

Zen Planner

After a few years in mining, Rick turned his focus to fitness, dedicating his time to learning the ins and outs of owning a fitness business. He now holds a few certifications in different movement styles, coaching weekly at QiFlow in Denver. Outside of Zen Planner, you can find him in the mountains with his girl, pretending to do jiu jitsu, roughhousing with his maltipoo Drake or making marketing videos for local fitness businesses.

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