Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How to Increase Gym Membership Retention

How to Increase Gym Membership Retention
How to Increase Gym Membership Retention
How Partnering with Medical Providers Creates a Win-Win-Win Situation
Perhaps more than anyone else, people trust their health care provider. According to a poll done by Gallup in November 2012, the #1 most trusted profession in the United States is nursing. The 2nd most trusted professional is the local pharmacist, followed by medical doctors at #3.
As a gym owner, one of the best things you can do to increase member retention is to get members' health care professionals involved in their weight loss journey. By getting a doctor or nurse involved in the fitness process, you're actually creating a win-win-win situation where the provider, the gym member and YOU the health club owner all benefit.

The first "win" is obviously for the gym member. Deciding to exercise is a pretty big decision for most folks, and one that's hard to stick with for the long term. By getting their doctor involved, they'll get some personalized advice and yet another person in their corner cheering them on as they seek to lose weight. That gym member will (hopefully) have the support of their family, friends, co-workers and now their doctor as they push themselves to new heights of physical fitness. That's a huge win for them! After all, who's more qualified to provide accurate advice and reassurance that exercise is indeed worth the effort?

The second "win" that occurs when you partner with medical providers is reserved for you, the gym owner. When you have a member who's making typical progress with weight loss and overall fitness, it's often the case that this "typical" progress is too slow for them. This feeling of too-slow is the danger zone of member retention! If Sally is exercising 3x per week and isn't seeing immediate payoff, she may quit the health club in frustration (just like she quit the last 14 diets she was on).

By partnering with Sally's medical providers, however, you can give her some serious reassurance that she is indeed making worthwhile progress! The doctor can show that discouraged gym member that although the scale may not be dropping as fast as she may like, there are other significant and measurable benefits to regular exercise. For example, maybe Sally's blood pressure has dropped since she joined the gym. Maybe Sally's resting heart rate has decreased since she joined the gym. Maybe Sally's balance has improved, or maybe her strength has increased, or.....well, you get the picture.

When the doctor or nurse is involved, you can let THEM explain the benefits of regular exercise to your gym members. In other words, you'll have the most trusted professionals in the country affirming what you've been saying for years: consistent exercise works and is specifically working for Sally (or Bob, or Jane, or Mary). THAT is the big win for the gym owner, and that's how to increase member retention by partnering with medical providers.

So, exactly how do you partner with medical providers?

The easiest way is to encourage the gym member to discuss their fitness results with their doctor. You're probably already measuring and weighing them on a monthly basis (if you're not, you should be) and tracking that information to show them progress. Each and every time you add to that tracking page, you should provide the gym member with a copy and encourage them to share it with their doctor. Every time. Those that do discuss their progress with their doctor will hear nothing but positive reinforcement to keep at it, keep exercising, stay motivated and overall to NOT QUIT. Can you think of a doctor that wouldn't recommend continued exercise?

Another way to partner with medical providers is to bring them into the health club. Any time you can get a doctor, physical therapist, or chiropractor into your fitness center, it's a very positive thing.

But how do you get medical providers into the gym? This brings us to the third and final "win" for this member retention strategy, and that win is for the medical providers themselves.

Many health care providers are out there actively seeking new patients. Health care is, after all, a business and every business needs customers. Find a doctor that needs more patients, and invite that doctor to do a 1-hour guest lecture in your gym. They can give a speech about the benefits of exercise, a different topic, or just host a no-holds-barred question and answer session with your gym members. This format is VERY successful in drawing a crowd (anyone heard of a little show called The Doctors?).

Okay, so to summarize this strategy of how to increase gym membership retention by partnering with medical providers, you'll basically be creating a win-win-win scenario. The "win" for the doctor is that they basically get to give a 1-hour commercial to a captive audience of targeted consumers who already care about their health. That's PERFECT for any health care provider who needs to pick up some new clients. The win for the gym member is that they'll get some expert advice that is personalized to them, along with a dose of encouragement that could make all the difference as they strive to achieve their fitness goals.

Finally, the "win" for you as the gym owner is that you get educated and motivated health club members who will not quit the gym because their doctor told them not to! Exercising to lose a few pounds and look better is one thing. Exercising because your doctor has personally examined the gym and has instructed (prescribed?) that you continue working out is another thing entirely! Once you obtain the endorsement of a member's health care provider, chances are you've got them as a member for life.

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