Don’t let the December dip + cost of living threaten your membership income in January. Use customer communication, added value, and engagement strategies to retain valued existing customers.
The festive period can be a rocky one for fitness businesses. Even the most hardcore members take a short break from training, and others use the festivities as a reason to pause their membership…and never come back. Add in worries about cost of living, and some members’ tendency to avoid the January rush, and you could be facing a downturn in numbers.
Remember, it costs less to retain an existing customer than it does to reach and onboard a new one.
The good news is there’s plenty you can do to nurture existing customers so they keep training through December and stay a loyal fan of your facility. And all of it can be done through Striive thanks to our business-focused features.
Ramp up your brand communications
It’s never too early to make the most of your email list, Facebook group, or client WhatsApp chat. Regular nurturing-style comms are a great way to maintain a connection between clients and the facility, and clients and each other. The focus now should be on warm, welcoming, valuable content. Don’t try to sell, or introduce any January offers. By all means tell members about new classes, workshops, or the Christmas party. But the key reason for these customer comms is engagement.
- Keep emails or messages brief
- Use a warm and friendly tone of voice
- Always encourage a reply
- Stay responsive to replies and comments
- Use messages to keep members in the loop
- Make existing members feel valued
Give customers added value for their membership
One sure-fire way to keep regulars engaged with your business over the busy (and expensive) Christmas period is to give them more. You know your customers best, so think about what would add real value to their lives at this time. It might be a product (recipe book, home training guide), an event (live workshop, Zoom Q&A), some merch, or a social. The aim is to show them how much you value their ongoing custom, and to remind them of all the benefits of being a member.
- Brainstorm added value your members would like
- Consider digital products, merch, bonuses, or events
- Make it clear this is for existing members
- Ensure it adds value to members’ fitness and wellbeing
- Generate a sense of community and belonging
5 engagement strategies to drive up retention over Christmas
Retaining existing members is just as important as signing up new members (if you’ve never worked out the lifetime value of your members, now’s the time to do it). Choose one or two of these simple engagement strategies to keep current members training, showing up, and engaged with your business and with each other.
1. Offer digital classes or online accountability
Do your members go off the radar over Christmas? Or does your facility close? It would be worth offering digital workout content, free home training plans, or a source of online accountability to keep people connected to their goals. Even 1 or 2 live Zoom classes would help them stay on track and show you really care about how they’re getting on.
2. Devise a festive-special workout
Would your members love a Christmas Eve mega-workout? Or relish the idea of coming back to a big 1st January session? Come up with something a little bit different to keep them engaged (and training) over that busy week. If you can give the exercises in-joke names or make reference to things within the gym community, even better.
3. Host an in-person social
Does your gym have a Christmas event? This might be the year to start. It doesn’t have to be fancy – in fact, keeping it low-key might show people that you’re mindful of their household budgets. But giving members the chance to hang out and talk about something other than training will foster a deeper sense of connection.
4. Send cards or small gifts
How many members do you have? Depending on numbers, think about sending Christmas cards, small gifts, or at the very least a festive message via email. Small personal touches make all the difference. It’s one way to stand out as “my gym” vs “one of the many gyms in town that I could go to”…
5. Give low-cost incentives
Keep members coming back by offering small but valuable incentives. How about bring a friend for free every Thursday in January? Or get one PT session free in January? Or buy a block of 10 classes, get 1 free. Everyone likes free stuff, so make sure it keeps them coming back.
Remember, it costs less to retain an existing customer than it does to reach and onboard a new one. Whilst your thoughts turn to the January rush, don’t forget your current members. Make them feel valued, looked after, and part of something special and they’ll have no reason to drop off over the festive period.