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Member Experience Is Key to Health Club Success

Serving operators and owners of gym, health club, and fitness studio brands, has been something I’ve been doing for many years now. As a result, I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two about success. I’ve seen health club operators achieve terrific business outcomes in the fitness industry over the years and sadly watched a few fall short. What these experiences have taught me is a simple secret: in order to be successful, you have to make your members happy by giving them what they really want. Creating a great member experience sounds like an easy thing to do huh? Well, sometimes it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Today the smartest fitness brands are increasingly investing in engineering great customer and member experiences. The demand for a great member experience is huge and surprisingly unmet across many industries. In fitness, where health clubs can lose as many as 50% of their memberships every year, delivering a better member experience is becoming even more important.
70% of Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide an excellent customer experience.
Just how valuable is the idea of giving members what they really want? In a Bain & Company study of 362 companies, 80 percent of those companies thought that they were delivering a “superior experience.” In truth however, only 8 percent were, according to their customers. And, customer experience is where the profits are, according to the book What Customers Crave.

Member Experience Keys to Consider

  1. Keeping customers is key to making higher profits. The probability of selling to a new prospect is less than 20%, while the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent.
  2. Loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.

So why is great member experience, or as I call it giving members what they really want, becoming even more important today?

As we all know today we live in a hyper-connected, hyper-competitive business world. The number of new fitness concepts that have emerged in the past decade is significant. Now on top of this everyone has a megaphone in their hand and this word of mouth world has a bigger impact than ever on businesses. If the experience your members have with you is bad, not only will they not return; they’ll tell the world on social media and review sites how awful you are. But, if your members have a great member experience and you delight them, not only will that be surprising, they will remain loyal members and tell many many others about how great you are.

Giving members what they really want is THE most powerful marketing you can have. Studies show that people trust word of mouth recommendations from friends, and even strangers, more than anything else and really much more than what a company says about itself through advertising. But while engineering a great experience is a simple thing to say, it is usually a complex process for companies to try and get their arms around.

When you try and improve member experience you have to deal with digital and non-digital communications, processes, and people from every part of your business. Some companies, when they try to map out the member journey, are finding that it has thousands of touch-points. This can be overwhelming. The book What Customers Crave outlines a simple approach to engineer great customer (member) experience. The author’s first suggestion is to segment your members with two simple concepts: what they love, and what they hate. Instead of trying to map a thousand different touch points throughout your member’s journey, you really need just a handful. For more details listen to an interview with author Nicholas Webb about “What Customers Crave,” by visiting where you’ll learn some great tips.

Find more tips for health club and member success in The Ultimate Health Club Management Guide.

If you want to delight and sell more to your current members who will then become an army of marketers for your company, the concepts in this book are very helpful in uncovering the details behind my secret to business success : just give your members what they really want.


Paul Schaller is CEO of ABC Financial Services, the industry’s leading fitness club management software that strengthens gym performance by reducing delinquencies, improving collections, and creating a better member experience. Paul is a business leader who believes everything in business begins and ends with the customer! His mission is to make sure every employee of ABC Financial Services is a maniac on a mission to make raving fans of our customers! You can learn more by following Paul on Linkedin and Facebook.