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There’s no doubt about it, January is a very unique and fruitful month for the fitness industry as people full of good intentions for the year ahead flock to gyms. The statistics tell the story...
- 3 out of 5 New Years Resolutions are fitness-related,
- 12% of new sign-ups happen in January; and,
- Gym attendances increase by 6%
However, a lot of the positive lifestyle changes people make in January are unfortunately undone very soon after as the statistics also show, with 80% of January sign-ups quitting within the first 5 months.
The beginning of February could well signal the beginning of the end if you look at the data. Foursquare did, and they observed that the second Saturday in February is the day gym attendance returns to normal levels, as do takeaway sales, which experienced a slump in the month of January.
This is an annual trend but doesn’t have to be the way. With some planning and simple strategies, you should be able to retain a lot more of these new members than is traditionally the case.
So now that you know this, what can you do to prevent the February drop-off and boost member retention you say? Well the answer is, focus on your members at this important first hurdle, and give them the support they need to get over it. Here's a five step plan to help you:
1 / Build relationships with them
Gyms are no longer about selling memberships and walking away, hoping that your members will keep paying. If you’re truly committed to retaining your members, then building relationships with them is a critical part of doing so.
Achieving your fitness goals doesn’t happen overnight. Member’s fitness journeys are long-term and are full of setbacks along the way, so they’ll need support.
You and your staff should be focused on providing that support but your members won’t come to you for support if they don’t know you. Meaning you don't get the opportunity to help them. That’s why building a relationship with your members is so important, and is proven to greatly increase retention.
"Before you try to fix a guy’s squat, learn his name"
2 / Help them with goal-setting
Although it’s very common amongst coaches, goal-setting is not something that your average person has been taught how to do, and as a result, people set unrealistic goals and then get frustrated by their lack of progress - one of the main reasons people quit the gym. That, or they just don’t set goals at all!
This can be very easily addressed however, by offering your members a free goal-setting session. Using the SMART goal setting technique you can quickly define a clear and achievable goal to give your members some much-needed focus.
3 / Help them craft a plan
Having a well-defined goal is really only step one. Next, you need to help them craft a plan to achieve that goal.
Every member is different, so this can take many forms and only you will know what is suitable for each individual. Some will really enjoy the community aspect of group exercise, some may require greater attention and be interested in personal training, some will prefer an individualized program that they can follow in their own time.
The key is to identify what works best for the individual and provide the guidance that they need to put an actionable plan in place that will help them achieve their goal.
4 / Hold them accountable
The majority of members who are not held accountable for achieving their goals will give up.
If you have no one to answer to, it’s very easy to skip the gym after a hard day’s work. However, the simple fact of knowing that someone is going to ask you if you went will motivate you to get it done.
The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95%
So set-up those regular member check-ins or use software to help monitor compliance and progress.
5 / Measure their progress
As mentioned previously, one of the main reasons people quit the gym is because they get frustrated by their lack of progress. Now that set a SMART goal with them, however, it should be possible to measure their progress and clearly show them the results of their hard work.
Software can take the pain out of the process of collecting data from members, analyzing it, and visualizing their progress so you can keep them motivated and focused on achieving their goal.
After the traditional highs of January, February can see a reduction in gym attendance as people slip back to their previous bad habits. For some this drop-off leads to memberships being cancelled over the coming months and a considerable amount of lost revenue for gyms.
But it doesn't need to be this way. You can achieve great results by simply supporting your members at this time, helping them put realistic goals in place, and a plan to achieve them. Then holding them accountable for putting the plan into action and measuring their progress along the way.
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