After students leave for college and the costly fall shopping season starts, many health clubs experience a surge in gym membership freezes. But these short-term fixes can be costly to a gym owner. With a little planning, though, your fitness center can avoid this seasonal ritual and come out ahead — with happier customers and, maybe, even more personal training clients.
Why do members freeze their gym membership?
Often, freezing a membership is just a polite way of saying “cancel my membership.” The customer wants out but is looking to avoid a difficult conversation. So, instead, they make up a reason to freeze the account. The little lie shuts down any questions and they walk away feeling good. Meanwhile, the club member assumes their account just drops off the books, not knowing gym management software can keep track of and restart frozen accounts.
What’s so bad about keeping frozen accounts open?
Human nature — your member forgets about the “frozen” account and misremembers “cancelling” it instead. When the billing starts up again, they get angry. And many times, they’ve blasted the misunderstanding across social media as your fault, even before a call is made. Now you have two problems: an unhappy member and negative social media posts.
So what began as a small problem escalates three months later into an irate customer capable of hurting your business.
How should my staff handle a request for a freeze?
Ironically…like a salesperson! We know there are a couple of good reasons to freeze a gym account. Military departures and medical issues come to mind. But most freeze requests stem simply from lack of use. The member is not coming to the gym, for whatever reason. Your job is to figure out the truth.
Four steps to take when a client asks to freeze their membership:
- Agree to freeze the membership and show them how you’ve done just that on the computer screen.
- Ask them why they’re freezing the membership, as you need to make a note in the system. Go ahead and write in the reason. You may need that information in later months.
- Look at their account history to gain an idea of how they’ve been using the club.
- If the reason is non-usage, keep a counter offer ready. For example, tell them you’ll comp a free month plus an orientation with a personal trainer. If after learning how to better use the equipment they’re still not using the gym, you’ll be happy to cancel the membership.
This strategy exposes the true objection and offers a creative solution. As an owner or salesperson, now you have a chance to turn the account around. From our experience as gym owners, we found these low-use clients frequently hired the personal trainer and became happy, active members again.
From our experience, we found these low-use clients frequently hired personal trainers after a free orientation.
For us, losing one month of sales is better than hanging on for three months only to deal with a cancellation from a disgruntled client. Try it out and let us know how it worked for you — and good luck this fall!
At Gym Insight, our gym membership software provides a clear, transparent picture into your company’s financials, and offers a platform from which to run your business effectively. Our software is built in-house, by fitness club owners. There are no cumbersome third-party plug-ins or complicated protocols, and it’s available for a single, low monthly subscription price — no hidden fees, no links to your payment processor. Call us today for a free demonstration on how we can lower your software management costs and free up time and capital.