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Loyalty plans for fitness centres

Fitness professionals know how important it is to focus on customer loyalty. Fidelity that, above all, must be based on relational and motivational principles shared by all staff. In fact, no commercial strategy will ever be more successful than the attractiveness of an empathetic human bond, a constant welcome and a sincere interest in satisfying the individual's needs.
However, the fitness customer is not immune from commercial shots by competitors, nor from the ones related to other services or products. Often, in fact, when renewing the registration, he makes a request (which in some cases turns into a claim) to receive preferential treatment: a higher discount, a few months free of charge, the possibility of allowing some relatives to enter for free, etc.

As usual, the best weapon is prevention, including in the commercial sector. But how can we prevent these demands? By creating a loyalty plan, which incorporates - precisely - all the most common customer requests.

Clienti e centri fitness

Aiming at loyal members

The loyalty plan has to work and brings results. It must be translated into a loyalty plan, which therefore rewards the loyalty of the member. Loyalty not only in terms of continuous enrolment but also of continuous frequency. Here, then, the principles mentioned at the beginning play an even more fundamental role, being the real and only engine that can move the customer to the fitness centre and involve him.

A good loyalty plan is not limited to reducing prices each year, because this is counterproductive for both the finances and the corporate image. The costs of the fitness centre tend to increase year by year, not only because of the ever-increasing costs of suppliers, but also because as the number of subscribers increases, more hours of coverage are needed in the various departments, more hours of courses, etc.. If the increase in expenditure leads to lower revenues, this results in a financial situation that is too unbalanced and negative.

If the subscription sells at a lower value to those customers that have been with you the longest, the knock effect comes from the remaining clientele who also believe that they should be eligible to receive discounts at some point. Moreover, the value of the structure and services could be seen to be lower than your price list communicates because of a discounting culture.

An effective loyalty plan can be built using a reward path, a path in which the customer accepts the different challenges, aware of what they could make him obtain.

Specifically, the loyalty plan should provide for a constant average frequency, use of all club areas, participation in special events, presentation of new friends, sharing of special social posts, participation in periodic surveys. For each action carried out, among those indicated in the plan, you receive a score that will allow you, as you accumulate it, to obtain prizes.

When constructing your rewards, don’t forget to take into account the diversity of individuals users. They will want to feel the same benefits as everyone else and so the prizes must mean something to as many people as possible. Above all, it is advisable that the prizes go beyond the walls of the fitness centre, involving local business partners able to provide free or discounted services or products (clothing shops, restaurants, cafes, organic food, travel, etc.). For the most important goals (generally expected at least after one or more renewals) it is very useful to insert even more attractive prizes, such as some of the latest tech which could be; cameras, tablets, smartphones, fitness wearables etc.
Loyalty subscription
When preparing the loyalty plan, it must also include a control phase that looks at overall costs to be expected. In addition, a forecast of the percentage of users who will arrive on average to collect the various prize levels and their premiums.

In order to contain these costs, in the presence of a well-structured loyalty plan, it is best not to deliver too many gadgets or merchandising products at the time of registration, since their value would be added to that of the rewards reached during the journey. Moreover, some customers could be satisfied with lower barrier prize thresholds, thus losing the focus on goals to reach higher prizes.

In order to be able to respond consciously to those who will find some criticism to move against any loyalty plan, is to begin to communicate it even before preparing it. This can be done through the creation of an internal survey in which, in addition to the traditional monitoring of the degree of customer satisfaction, we introduce the opportunity to participate in a loyalty plan, gathering interest both in general terms and in possible categories of awards.

This first step is doubly strategic because on the one hand, it allows the program to be oriented towards what is of greatest interest to the clientele, and on the other hand, thanks to the satisfaction index, it allows the club to receive a picture of how it is actually perceived by those who attend. If at this stage, any critical issues emerge in one or more sectors, especially at staff level, it will be useful to suspend or postpone the planning of the loyalty plan in order to focus first on the resolution of the critical aspects that have emerged.

If the customer feels that they are not being listened to, then the loyalty plan is unlikely to be the defining factor of why this customer is likely to end their subscription.

On the other hand, we could assume that the survey shows a positive overall situation and that the loyalty plan is now ready to go.

How to start it? The actual launch will have to take place through a well-prepared and coherent communication plan on all the channels used by the club: posters, e-mails, social and through the organisation of a special event, which will give you the opportunity to receive and accumulate the first points on the program.

Furthermore, each member of the staff must understand exactly what is involved to communicate it well and without doubt to customers. Once the loyalty plan is active and communicated externally, anyone who collaborates with the club will need to be fully able to explain it and answer any questions without adhering to personal and misleading interpretations that would only generate confusion and discontent.

In addition to careful and patient planning, the success of a loyalty plan also derives from constant and precise management of the accumulation of scores, through the programming of modern management software available on the market. On the other hand, for those who do not have it and do not want to invest in IT modernisation, it will be necessary to simplify the management process of scores as much as possible, without however completely renouncing the loyalty tool.

Terminologies and strategies to be adopted in loyalty plans

In order to avoid problems during the eventual controls by the relevant institutions. In any communication, the rewards will not be prizes, but gifts or homages and they will not be won but received. This is why it will be very important to avoid explicitly linking scores to the different types of purchases, focusing more on commitment concepts. You don't "get 200 points if you buy a four-monthly and 800 if you buy an annual" but  you get a higher score depending on how long you are engaged in physical activity, because this is the real mission.

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