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From retention to engagement, communication increases club loyalty

Rimini Wellness is certainly one of the most important fairs dedicated to fitness and wellness lifestyles. It is an opportunity for discovery and discussion for the most important operators in the sector to take a look at the future, at sector news, to open up to market news, ride on new trends and, more generally, find inspiration for their business. Technogym unveils some of the most important product innovations and formats for the sector and, as every year, organizes seminars and workshops open to all operators to share the know-how of 30 years of experience in the wellness field.
The most important themes of the Retention Method seminar, held by Technogym during Rimini Wellness 2018 included loyalty and engagement rather than retention, and the management of client dispersion through communication with clients.


One of the most important aspects of the business of fitness centres is surely to understand how to build customer loyalty that, moved by operators in an increasingly aggressive market, tends to decide to switch to other players or, worse, generally abandon physical activity in the gym.

The theme of loyalty is therefore essential for a type of market where the annual flow of customers is very similar to that of water in bucket holes, with abandonment/dispersion rates that, YoY, according to research, vary from 40% to 60%.

The problem of the centres is therefore not so much to prevent this from happening, but to ensure this has the least amount of impact on their business, given the elements of the scenario in which a club is immersed. For example, it is normal for a fitness centre located in a large transit area to have a higher percentage of less loyal customers (to follow the example of the bucket, increasing the water will also increase the leakage of the same).
Or, if you own a smaller club, having fewer customers in absolute terms but who are loyal could be a good opportunity/strategy to lay the foundation for a solid business. In general, it is therefore important to provide a balanced service to achieve a consistent outflow.

Why are members leaving the club?

1. Lack of results
2. Expectations at the time of sale not me
3. External factors
4. Negative feelings
5. Boredom
The most dangerous moment for retention is when a break in the habit of going to the club occurs (Christmas break, summer break). Furthermore, a customer also abandons because of human nature: mammals move for one purpose, to hunt, breed and cultivate. Nowadays, the reason that drives people to move is no longer there and changing human nature is complicated, but not impossible: the great Technogym Let’s Move for a Better World campaign demonstrates this.

Stopping the inevitable churn

Preventing customer churn depends only in part on investment in new promotions, new courses or new formats. Before making decisions that could turn out to be flawed, stop for a moment to understand what is working and what is not: It may well be that the operator of a fitness centre is then at a crossroads.

I have invested in new promotions, new formats, new courses. But nothing has worked. Why is that?

The basic assumption is that we are more likely to be faithful to something when that something makes us feel unique, and to make a customer feel unique it is essential to be as good as possible from a communication point of view. From the basics, from the way we communicate with our customers. The commercial strategy or its communication alone cannot be everything.

Communication is the basis of everything

To make a customer feel unique, it’s advised to avoid thinking about retention, which can ignite negative thoughts in us and then in the customer (it comes from retaining) but to take inspiration from loyalty. When the feeling of uniqueness is two-way, the desire to be with others is lessened. The analysis report is everything.
The care for retention lies in the relationship with the end customer. Let's take a practical example: the trainer is a key figure in the club, a great engine for customers and our first source of contact with them. While it is usually performed at the technical level, at the communicative level it sometimes tends to be too prescriptive. The aim of the entrepreneur is to make the trainers aware that a large number of people do not like to move, accepting the fact that many people find it boring and that there are better ways to communicate it than with simple encouragement.

It's not certain that the path is the same for everyone, but what is important is the ability to be flexible in our approach.

We are not talking about enrolment, but about the first step within the path: workouts are stages of this path. The very first approach, the take-off phase of a customer, as in the flight of an airplane consumes more than the cruise and can last a long time or a little depending on the person in front. But it is fundamental to give imprinting to the customer.
The program is built, not the card, because the program is a long-term project and is in line with individual attitudes: the best answer to evaluate the success of this phase is the frequency with which the client will return to the club.
With these new communication ideas, we must no longer talk about retention but about engagement and communication must no longer focus on renewal but on engagement with the user. Like all relationships, to consolidate a solid and long-lasting relationship, it is very important to know as much information as possible about the customer, because this allows you to have more chances of persuasion and different angles to use in case of renewal. Observing their behavior, listening to them and conversing with them will be of the utmost importance.

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