Re-Engage with Members by Conducting a Survey

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Engaging with your member base can be as simple as a Q & A session. Ask them what they think, what they want, what they like/don’t like, and then, most importantly, LISTEN. Member feedback frames the complete picture of the experience and expectations of the member base. The member survey can be a valuable resource designed exclusively for your club to re-engage the member base and provide the perfect platform for their honest feedback.

Before you design a member survey, identify the information you want to obtain. For example,

  • Are you interested in overall member satisfaction?
  • Are you looking for suggestions?
  • Are you interested in gathering member feedback on a specific area of your club, i.e. kid’s programs, staff, cardio equipment, etc.?

If you find that you want ALL OF THE ABOVE, consider building a series of surveys and launching them throughout the year. Requesting member feedback on every aspect of your facility could result in a lengthy survey that could negatively impact response and completion rate.

According to research from Survey Monkey, the ideal length of a survey is about 10 – 12 questions with 10 being the “sweet spot” yielding an average completion rate of 89%. The longer the survey, the more likely your members are to get lazy with their responses, skip questions, or abandon the survey altogether. Remember that when it comes to writing surveys, the shorter the better. If you can only come up with 3-5 questions on a specific topic, run with it. Don’t rack your brain or add irrelevant questions to get to “10”. For best results, try not to exceed 12 questions total.

Now, let’s dig in to their research a little more to determine the best types of questions to ask. Here are a few of your options:

  • Multiple Choice
  • Open-Ended
  • Agree/Disagree
  • All of the Above

The results show that multiple choice questions are the best types of survey questions. They provide short, concise answers for members to choose from using less brain power. Open-ended questions are great for gathering incite from members “in their own words” require more “brain power” and time to answer.

For example:

  • What new programs would you like to see available at XYZ club?


  • Which of these programs would you like to see available at XYZ club? Check all that apply.
  • Obstacle Course Race Training
  • Triathlon Training
  • Parent / Child Fitness Classes
  • Recovery Training
  • Other – (write in your suggestion)

The multiple choice questions provide specific answers for the member to choose quickly. In some cases, simply reading the possible answers could put the member in the right “brain space” to respond and even suggest something new.

It is best to avoid agree/disagree questions, as those can skew your survey results. Research shows that people have a tendency to say “yes” or agree, even if they don’t actually feel that way. Agree/disagree and “rate your satisfaction” questions could direct your members answers into a common pattern that might or might not truly reflect their feelings.

Have you ever seen phrases like this in a survey?

Sliding Scale: “Rate your satisfaction level in each area a sliding scale from 1-10. 1 being completely dissatisfied to 10 being extremely satisfied”

Agree/Disagree: “Rate how much you agree with the following statements from strongly agree – strongly disagree”

If the possible answers for every survey question are the same as in the two examples above, most people tend to “circle down the line” and choose the same answer for each question; thereby not revealing their true feelings on the subject at hand.

When is the best TIME to offer a member survey?

Marketing and customer insight firm, MyFeelBack, lists some of the best times to survey your customers as:

  • Directly after an interaction with your facility. For example,
    • Immediately after they join the gym
    • At the completion of a new member orientation session
    • Following their first week of personal training
  • Before making a big change. We all know, no one likes change – so reach out to get member incite before diving into major projects such as,
    • Equipment upgrades
    • Club renovations or expansions
    • Group fitness class schedule overhaul
  • At the end of a marketing campaign. If it is worth doing, it is worth measuring. Just as you track your clients’ results, you will want to track your results at the conclusion of a campaign or event to determine if it was a success. Here are a few suggestions:
    • 2-3 weeks after the beginning of a new program (i.e. group fitness)
    • After the “New Year’s Resolution” enrollment special expires
    • 2-3 days after an open house, health fair, or charity event
  • When your members leave you. An exit survey is one of the best ways to learn about some of the weaknesses of your business. Exit surveys are typically conducted by club management staff who are trained to listen and respond graciously to negative feedback. It is also disarming to begin an exit survey by stating that the goal isn’t to “change their mind” or “win them back” (even though it really might be) as this can be off-putting. Begin the the exit survey by stating that you understand that the facility was no longer meeting their needs and/or expectations and you would like a few moments of their time to find out why.

Lastly, but most importantly, remember to follow up a member survey with an action, a touch point, or both. Provide a space on the survey for the member to leave their contact information. Some may choose to remain anonymous. Those that do provide contact info, give them a quick phone call, an email, or a face-to-face conversation. Even if you are unable to accommodate their request right away, thank them for their time and honest feedback.



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About Elisabeth Fouts

Elisabeth is the Education & Content Manager for Power Systems. She has served the fitness industry for over 15 years has a wide variety of experience from personal training and group fitness instruction to health club membership sales and fitness management. She joined Team Power Systems as Education Coordinator in 2015 and has since produced and co-authored educational content for live and virtual training sessions both internally for staff training and externally for industry educational organizations across the United States. Elisabeth holds a B.S. in Education & Exercise Science and is a certified fitness instructor with ACE and Les Mills.