Maximizing your potential for member acquisition and retention can be summed up by a familiar quote by renowned poet Maya Angelou,
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
The feeling a member (or prospective member) has when they enter and exit your facility is a direct reflection of the overall experience you provide. It is true, when it comes to the buying process, the experience is everything!
Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, has been the leading researcher on the relationship between experiential and material consumption. His studies have influenced the field of behavioral economics with the overarching theme that people overwhelming prefer and reflect more positively on a purchase that results in a real-life experience versus a tangible item. In other words, people are likely to spend more and feel good about the amount of money they spent on a great night out with friends, concert tickets, or a vacation than on a new suit, smartphone, or television.
This is great news for the fitness industry because it is in the business of selling the intangible – hopes and dreams, a vision of what someone can become , and results. However, a person can get results by working out anywhere – the treadmill at your facility is no different than the treadmill at their home or at the gym down the street. The overall experience is the differentiator.
As the fitness facility market becomes more saturated with health clubs, performance centers, boutiques, training studios, and high volume/low cost gyms – bland and blanketed statements such as “featuring state-of-the-art equipment” are no longer effective. Taglines like “judgement-free zone” and “join the party” are just two fitness company slogans that explain the type of experience that will be provided.
In an effort to keep existing members and recruit new ones – you have to create an experience that is worth sharing!
We asked Power Systems Master Coach, PJ Stahl, owner of Lock Box LA – what he does to cultivate the community inside and outside of his member base. Here are PJ’s tips for “growing your #fitfam”:
As a gym owner, it is important to always be engaging and challenging your members to keep them coming back for more. In my experience, I would recommend incorporating these 3 key tools into your business practices for full member engagement and retention.
- Social Events – Host one social event per month and each quarter make one of these events a bigger event for more inclusion. These can be anything from a get together at a park for a BBQ, a group bowling night, or an outdoor adventure hike. These events create a sense of friendship and community outside of the gym, where people can connect and create lasting friendships. Doing events outside of the gym creates a more comfortable environment to connect members.
- Community Competitions – Create or participate in one community competition per quarter. At Lock Box LA we do Reebok Spartan Races, Nutrition Challenges, and our own fitness competitions called WOD-A-PAIR and PROJECT STEEL Challenges. These competition events create camaraderie when the members must work together towards a common goal to achieve success. These are some of the most fun and memorable moments our members have with their new successes and personal records reached at each event.
- Seminars & Clinics – Provide 1-2 seminars/clinics per quarter. One of my favorite quotes I tell my coaches and trainers is “Motivation Through Education.” It is not only our job as Fitness Professionals to be educators, but these events will teach your members new techniques and skills that they will have forever. Educational events will set yourself apart from other facilities by showing your members your staff’s high level of knowledge and will keep your clients wanting to apply what they have learned. The cycle of education and application will keep them coming back for more.
It is no secret that positive fitness experiences create a sense of community and lead to more retention and referrals. When people look forward to what they will experience at your facility, they can’t stop talking about it. These members will cross your threshold more often and share that experience every time. Over the next two weeks, we will continue to look at what it takes to create complete and positive fitness experiences that both new and existing members will be inspired to share with others. Check out Part 2 & Part 3 in the coming weeks.