What is the one thing that you need to keep in mind to keep people signing up for gym memberships? What is it about hanging out in a communal space to exercise? With reasonably priced modern fitness equipment, most people could train at home, so why take the time and expense of traveling to a gym?
The answer, I believe is actually pretty simple. People could do a lot of training at home. But who really wants that? It’s too easy to slack off and it can get a little lonely. It’s the social component of being around other people and the feeling of being part of something, even if it’s just a spinning class.
So here is something very, very important to remember, as a small gym owner or manager: you are providing a service that will live and die by the hospitality that you provide to your members.
It Is A Matter Of Hospitality
That is why I think you need to have the same mindset as the hospitality industry. You are providing a venue, events and staff. Sure, it’s a gym and not a hotel or restaurant but you can’t overestimate the importance that the social factor plays. It is the one key thing that draws in the memberships and makes customers want to keep coming back.
It’s up to you and your team to nurture your relationships with the members. They may be working off the stress of a tough day at work but you and your staff must give them room and be friendly but professional. You have to consistently give members what they want, and provide them with classes and promotions that make their attendance rewarding and enjoyable.
People (mostly) have reasonable expectations of what comes included in their memberships. They want the facilities and equipment obviously, clean and in good repair. But they also want a connection, a sense that they matter and can turn to someone if they need to.
This may be a little hard to see if you have 24-hour card access. The 3 AM regulars might not be so bothered. But then even they bothered to attend at that time, so maybe they needed something they couldn’t get elsewhere.
Modern life can be quite isolating and places like gyms are as good as anywhere to be around positive health conscious people. It is critical that, as the management of the establishment, we make it a universally positive experience.
At the other extreme, members who have houses full of family get a chance for some me-time in the gym. They can have a little more space, without being isolated. You’ll know when you’ve found the right balance. Referrals happen and members stay longer. After all, isn’t that what will work best for you?
The Recognition Is The Connection
Members want to be recognized for their hard work and goal setting and accomplishments in the gym. That is why they post on twitter and Facebook that they went to the gym today. The connection is made plus the story you tell yourself that your friends are watching. It becomes a commitment to acting like the person you say you are.
There is a balance that can be different things to different members: Connection without too much obligation but a little encouragement at the same time. It’s up to the owners and staff to recognize the social need and provide just the right level of support. Just keep in mind that hospitality and the social contact are the glue that makes your clients keep coming. It all comes back to taking care of your customers and making their experience rewarding.
Just knowing that people are around often makes it easier to focus and do that one final rep. At home alone and in private, it’s all too easy to get distracted or you can just goof off. It gets all too easy to let it slide and procrastinate.
Also, who’s going to be there to acknowledge your victories?
Over to you…
How much do you think the social connection influences your gym attendance?