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6 Member Focus Strategies For Health Club Staff

Many health clubs and gyms adopt a product or service-centered approach to their businesses, meaning their decisions mainly focus on what they have to offer. This goal is usually established as a way to sell products or services to as many members and prospects as possible. However, this “one size fits all” approach is not the best strategic choice anymore.

When I say one size fits all is not the best approach any longer, what I mean is shared in this recent post “The Age Of The Health Club Member Is Here. What Does That Mean?” which articulates the importance of member centricity and personalization. Here is an excerpt:

“This new smarter member expects, as a result, that companies be more member-centric; meaning focused on their expectations at every single touch point. Member centricity is no longer a buzzword used by marketers when describing promotional tactics such as personalization and customer experience. Member centricity is a mindset that companies must adopt throughout the entire organization to thrive in the digital world.”

Adopting a member-focused approach, offering different experiences, products, and services to different customers based on their individual needs, is a key ingredient and philosophy for success in the health club industry today. This approach puts customers at the center of business strategy, places an emphasis on customer service training, and aims to maximize the lifetime value of health club members. The lifetime value of members being one of THE most important key performance indicators in the health club industry today.

Do you want to get your staff to adopt a more member-centric approach in your health club business? Here are six strategies to improve your team’s member-focused approach.

1. Create a Member-Focused Culture

The first step to building a comprehensive member-focused approach is to create a member-focused culture and implement this philosophy across all of your departments. Every employee, from sales staff who communicate with prospects and members, to marketers who create campaigns and engage on social channels, each has an important influence on member experiences and it is important that they are all on the same page.

When other departments don’t buy into it, you won’t achieve true member focus. This philosophy starts at the top and it has to be driven from the top. This belief needs to be more than a slogan it has to reflect the culture, beliefs, and values of the company.

Want to learn more about how to impact your culture in this way? Check out this recent article: Why Teamwork Matters. Here’s a quote.

“The foundation of every great team is a direction that energizes, orients, and engages its members. Teams cannot be inspired if they don’t know what they’re working toward and don’t have explicit goals. Those goals should be challenging (modest ones don’t motivate) but not so difficult that the team becomes dispirited. They also must be consequential: People have to care about achieving a goal, whether because they stand to gain extrinsic rewards, like recognition, pay, and promotions; or intrinsic rewards, such as satisfaction and a sense of meaning.”

2. Systematically Gather and Share Member Data

When members are the focus of your health club brand, rather than the things you are selling, it is important that you collect meaningful information about them in order to treat them as individuals. The use of a quality CRM system can help sales staff tailor their offers, and also enable more detailed, personalized conversations to happen when it comes to customer service. Collecting data on members to better serve their needs is essential in health club operations and marketing today. The following is a quote from the recent article Why Data Is Going To Become A Big Differentiator in the health club industry:

“Without data, how do you know who your actual members are? Without data, how do you know if members like your services or if your marketing efforts are working? Data is essential to understanding your members and your market. The clearer you see your members, the easier it is to reach them. PayPal Co-Founder Max Levchin said, “The world is now awash in data and we can see consumers in a lot clearer ways.” The data and tools you need to help you understand and reach your members are out there so use them.”

3. Invest in Training and Customer Service Coaching

Servicing members and their needs is an important concept in any health club organization, but it takes on even greater significance in companies adopting a member-focused approach. For this reason, it is really important that staff receive member service training and that training is backed up with coaching activities.

The IHRSA article Who Is Responsible For Delivering Stellar Customer Service At Your Health Club offers these specific recommendations:

  1. Make customer service a central part of your club’s core value system.
  2. Recruit talent based on their ability to deliver service. (This is much more important than any technology training they might have.)
  3. Provide onboarding education and continuing education for employees so they understand and are constantly reminded about the importance of the member experience and how to make it happen.
  4. Set up a reward and recognition system that is specifically tailored to recognizing people that are delivering on those customer experience values.

4. Prioritize Membership Retention

When members are placed at the forefront of your strategy, the goal should be to foster long-term relationships. This means looking out for their long-term interests and assisting them as their needs change. In addition, there are also clear business benefits to prioritizing membership retention.

The article How To Increase Gym Profitability Up To 95% shares the following facts and some great suggestions:

“It costs nine times more to acquire a new member than to retain an existing one. Increasing member retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by 25-95%. In fact, leading research shows that a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10% (Leading on the Edge of Chaos, Emmet Murphy, and Mark Murphy).

What’s the moral of the story here? Gym profitability depends on member retention over anything else. Loyal members spend more, buy more often, care less about price, cost less to “court,” and become Promoters who tell all their friends about your gym. If you’re a busy fitness club owner, member retention is the key to upping your game.”

It is important that your staff understands the importance of retention and is rewarded for KPI’s around retention even more so than membership sales. The facts reflect the reason retention at health clubs should be a major priority.

5. Execute A Social Strategy

One of the best ways to build and maintain meaningful relationships with your members is through leveraging social media as part of a social retention and selling policy. When members see that you provide them with content, knowledge, and insight, rather than just products or services, they are more likely to see you as a valuable ally and partner. It is really important to continue to offer and deliver value for your members and social channels can help you do that.

When your marketing and sales department work together to create a steady stream of valuable and interesting member-centric content, which is shared through social media, it can lead to longer-lasting relationships and improved sales and retention results.

Take a look at our recent article How To Create An Effective IGTV Strategy For Your Health Club for some useful tips and tricks.

6. Deliver Value, Not Products or Price

Another important strategy to adopt when switching your focus to members is the concept of selling value, rather than products or price. The crucial things salespeople need to highlight are what your fitness and other services can do for the member, how it can help them, and what the results of that help will be, in real terms. Members don’t care about services, they care about value. What they buy is the value they can achieve with your health club solutions and services.

Learn more information to help you grow in The Ultimate Health Club Management Guide.

So what do you think about increasing your staff’s focus on members as a key strategy? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Join us to learn more about how ABC Financial can help you retain members with a member-focused strategy.



Mike Escobedo serves as Chief Customer Officer for ABC Financial Services. He has over a decade of experience serving customers in the fitness studio, gym, and health club industry in a variety of roles. Mike is also a co-founder of Industry FIT, which offers health club operators insights and innovative ideas worth sharing. With a background in technology, service, and operations, Mike supports thousands of fitness facilities conducting millions of member touches each year. You can learn about becoming member-centric and more by following Mike on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.