Membership retention is crucial to the long-term success of any studio that relies on its members to sustain their activities, especially in the boutique fitness industry. Retention is a hot-button topic that studio owners everywhere try to execute successfully. Here are some tips for developing a sustainable membership retention strategy you can implement into your business plan:
Develop a strong onboarding process
Believe it or not, onboarding is critical to retaining new members and ensuring they feel motivated, welcomed, and supported. Provide them with a walk-through of your studio space, introduce them to key staff and instructors, and give them opportunities to learn about your community, studio software, classes, and more!
- Provide resources: Make sure new members can access resources that will help them get involved and stay engaged. This can include a virtual introductory course to eliminate intimidation, member quotes and testimonials, and information about upcoming events and opportunities.
- Follow up: Check in with new members after their initial class and studio experience to see how they are doing and address any questions or concerns they may have. You can build a stronger relationship with them and improve their overall experience by engaging.
Use data to track member engagement and identify trends or patterns in their behavior, ultimately influencing retention rates and enabling you to better understand their needs, motivators, and preferences.
- Use a membership management system: A modern platform like Walla can easily track member activity, attendance, and other key metrics. This can provide insight into what classes, appointments, and services are most popular and where you may need to improve.
- Analyze attendance: Track attendance at your classes and experiences to understand which are popular and which need improvement. Walla’s Class Analysis Report empowers you to identify trends in member booking behavior.
- Collect feedback: Ask members for feedback on their experiences at your studio. You can do this through surveys, suggestion boxes, or in-person conversations. Use this feedback to tailor your offerings to meet member needs.
- Monitor social media engagement: Monitor social media to see how members engage with your studio, including likes, comments, and shares, as well as direct messages and reviews.
- Measure retention rates: Track how many members renew their memberships each month to understand how well you retain members. If retention rates are low, you may need to adjust your experiences or improve member engagement.
Create a member referral program
Encourage current members to refer their friends and colleagues to your studio. Offer incentives or rewards for successful referrals, but ensure you set clear expectations and goals and establish rules and communication to encourage member participation.
- Set clear goals: Determine what you want to achieve with your referral program. For example, you may want to increase membership by a certain percentage or attract new members in a specific demographic.
- Decide on incentives: Determine what incentives you will offer to members who refer new members, like discounts on membership fees, free classes, guest passes, or other perks.
- Establish program rules: Create clear rules for your referral program, including how members can participate, how referrals will be tracked, and what the eligibility requirements are for receiving incentives.
- Communicate the program: Promote your referral program to current members through email marketing, social media, and in-person conversations. Make sure members understand the benefits of participating and how the program works.
- Track referrals: Set up a tracking system to keep track of referrals and ensure that members who refer new members receive the appropriate incentives. With Walla, you can also easily see referral names in any client profile.
- Follow up with new members: Make sure new members feel welcomed and supported when they join. Follow up with them after their first few visits to see how they are doing and address any questions or concerns they may have.
Segment your membership
Not all members are the same, so don't treat them as such. Segment your membership based on factors like age, interests, or booking behavior, and customize communications and suggestions to each group.
- Create targeted communications: Use the information you have gathered to create targeted communications for each segment. For example, you may send emails or newsletters, share promotions, and upsell classes to specific interests or demographics.
- Personalize services: Customize your services to meet the needs of different segments. For example, you may offer specific classes or programs that are popular among a certain segment of your membership base.
Make sure your staff and instructors are always open and responsive to member inquiries and concerns. Respond in a timely manner to emails and phone calls, and be willing to address and resolve any issues. That’s what builds stronger client relationships!
- Listen actively: When interacting with members, listen carefully to their concerns, questions, and feedback. Pay attention to their tone, body language, and underlying message.
- Respond promptly: Respond to member inquiries, concerns, and feedback, acknowledge their concerns, and provide relevant information and support.
- Use multiple channels: Provide various channels for members to communicate with you, such as email, phone, and in-person interactions. Make sure to respond consistently across all channels.
- Empathize and provide solutions: When members have concerns or issues, show understanding and work with them to find solutions that meet their needs. This can involve offering alternative class times or providing additional support, building trust, and improving member satisfaction.
Offer education and training
Members value opportunities to learn and grow—and it’s a great way to engage with clients, help them achieve their goals, and differentiate your studio from competitors. Offer educational events, courses, webinars, and workshops at your studio that align with what they want to know and accomplish.
- Identify your target audience: Determine the target audience for specific studio experiences, including members new to fitness, experienced athletes, or clients with individual goals or interests.
- Determine the type of experience to offer: Consider what would be most valuable to your target audience. Maybe it’s personal training, individual appointment, classes, workshops, seminars, or online resources. Just make sure it’s well organized!
- Promote your programs: Promote experiences through email, social media, and other marketing channels. Highlight the benefits of the programs and emphasize how they can help members achieve their fitness goals.
Foster a sense of community
Share opportunities for members to connect and build relationships. Host social events, create an online community, and encourage networking and collaboration to influence engagement and retention.
- Host events: Host events such as social gatherings, charity events, or workshops that bring members together outside of regular classes. This can help the studio community to get to know each other and build relationships.
- Have a social media presence: Create social media accounts for your studio and encourage members to join a private Facebook or Instagram group to facilitate communication between members and help build community.
- Recognize member achievements: Celebrate member achievements such as reaching a fitness milestone or participating in a charity event to help members feel valued and part of a supportive community.
- Encourage member feedback: Elicit member feedback and suggestions through surveys or in-person conversations, showing members their opinions are valued and helping build a sense of ownership in the community.
- Promote a welcoming environment: Ensure your studio has a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members, from a friendly staff to creating a clean and comfortable space and providing amenities such as water and towels.
- Use technology: Technology is a powerful tool to influence member retention at your studio and streamline processes to make it easier for members to engage with your studio.
- Promote and provide virtual classes: Offer virtual fitness classes to members who can't attend your studio in person. This can increase member engagement and provide an additional revenue stream for your business.
- Use social media: Engage with members, provide fitness tips and advice, and promote your studio on the online platforms they engage with and post on to build a sense of community and improve member retention.
- Offer online courses and coaching: Offer online coaching and flexibility with courses to members who need extra guidance and support. This can help members achieve their goals and improve retention rates.
Knowing industry trends and best practices can make your studio successful while attracting new clients and retaining members. Inform your community about updates and changes, and be willing to make adjustments and pivot as needed.
- Keep up with industry trends: Stay up-to-date on industry trends and changes by attending industry conferences, reading industry publications, and networking with other fitness professionals.
- Offer a variety of classes: Offer a variety of fitness classes that cater to different interests and fitness levels. Keep an eye on emerging fitness trends and incorporate new classes that align with your studio's brand and mission.
- Update your equipment: Regularly update your studio's equipment to ensure it is modern, safe, and effective. Consider investing in new equipment that aligns with emerging fitness trends and member preferences.
- Partner with other studios and wellness businesses: Partner with local companies and brands to offer members additional value and experiences, like partnerships with nutritionists, wellness coaches, lifestyle boutiques, and other health professionals.
Evaluate and adjust
Continuously evaluating the effectiveness of your studio retention strategies is crucial for long-term success (and your bottom line).
- Analyze data: Review the data to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement. Look for factors contributing to low retention rates, such as member complaints, low attendance rates, or low engagement.
- Set goals: Set specific goals for improving member retention based on the data analysis. These goals should be realistic, measurable, and achievable within a reasonable timeframe.
- Develop and test new strategies: Develop and implement new retention strategies based on the data analysis and goals—and monitor their effectiveness. Consider incorporating new classes and appointments, offering personalized services, or adjusting pricing or membership plans to improve member retention. Utilizing credits is a great option, too!
- Make necessary changes: Evaluate and adjust your retention strategies based on the results. Be willing to make changes and adjustments to your strategy to ensure they are effective.
By implementing these ten tactics, you can increase the likelihood that your members will stay engaged and loyal, ultimately leading to a stronger community and more successful studio.