On average, 12% of new members join during January – making January the busiest month for gyms and health clubs.
January is – and has always been – the peak of the season. To help you cope with the New Year’s resolution rush – and retain as many members as possible – we have gathered some tips for you.
#1 Help new members set realistic long-term goals
New members joining your gym might do it based on New Year’s resolutions regarding exercising more, being healthier, losing weight or something else. In their mind, they will have an overall, but yet fluffy goal.
And fluffy goals often turns into too high expectations which can lead to frustrations when things aren’t moving along ‘as planned’ – at the end leading to demotivation and lack of success.
That’s a vicious circle that can cause your members to quit the gym before getting started for real.
To keep your new members’ motivation on top, it can really pay off helping your new members set realistic long-term goals.
You can prepare a handful of questions to ask your members when joining your gym.
- Why are you joining today?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- What motivates you?
Based on the member’s answers, help them formulate a specific and realistic goal.
Examples of goals could be:
- Visit the gym twice a week.
- Learn to use most of the gym's equipment and how it impacts the body.
- Find a fun workout routine that works for your level of fitness.
- Try five different group classes to learn what's appealing to you.
- Finding a workout buddy.
If you want to take it up a final notch, print out the goal, and make it tangible. It’s much easier for your member to cope with when they get their goal physically handed to them.
#2 Remember to distinguish between loyal members and new members
Even though, you might get a lot of new members during the first days of January, don’t forget your crowd of loyal members who uses your facility throughout the whole year.
You need to approach these two groups very differently. It’s important that your new members feel welcomed at your gym. Chances are that you might already have a great onboarding or welcome program ready, so it’s easy for your members to get started.
However, the extra focus on new members might take some of the attention away from your loyal members – which you don’t want to neglect during the New Year’s resolution rush.
Instead, make an effort to make it convenient for your loyal members to still use your facility, even though it might be more crowded than usual.
- Show your loyal members recognition by sending a celebration email, giving out physical diplomas, rewarding them with points on your app or the like to celebrate that they are starting off the year by still being an active member at your facility.
- Offer a free protein shake, protein bar or the like to thank them for their understanding.
- Encourage your loyal crowd to be ambassadors that can help out new members – e.g., when trying out new machines or getting lost on their way to the locker rooms. That can create a very special bond and break down the otherwise unspoken distance between new members and experienced members that sometimes exists.
#3 Reduce the loss on ‘Fall off the wagon’ day
A study from Foursquare found the day that most members will fall off the wagon and quit their New Year’s resolution. The day is: The second Saturday of February.
Researchers found that from January 1st until the second Saturday of February, the percentage increase in the number of visits at the gym outweighed the percentage decrease in the number of visits at fast-food chains. However, after this day in February, numbers started to move back to normal.
Use this finding to your advantage. Have an extra focus on retaining your new members at the very beginning of their membership journey at your gym.
Examples of how to retain new members past the ‘Fall of the wagon’ day:
- Arrange fitness challenges
- Host events
- Set up beginner classes
- Offer free sessions with a personal trainer
- Encourage members to join your gym community (offline and online)
#4 Call for backup – bring in extra staff if possible
You will most likely feel a rush at your gym from the very beginning after New Year’s. More members will fill up the space and use the machines, the class facilities, the locker rooms etc.
When more people are walking in and out of your facility, it might be useful to have more staff available to give a hand.
Some extra manpower can cover tasks like:
- Extra cleaning
- Extra support at the reception
- More personal training sessions
- Extra guided "intro-tours" at the gym
- More class instructors to cover the higher demand
When getting some backup, you can make sure that the service and experience at your gym remain the same even though it feels like rush hour. It ensures that both your loyal and new members are taken well care of throughout this peak season.
#5 Promote your online sign-up flow
You are probably all set with your online sign-up flow when starting out the New Year's resolution rush in January. However, are you making your potential new members aware of how easy it is for them to sign up from home?
By encouraging more new members to sign up from home, you can minimise the lines at the reception – which is time-saving for both your members and staff. Also, it will be a much more smooth and convenient experience which will give your new members a great first impression of your business.
Examples of how to promote online sign-ups:
- Use banners, pop-ups or the like on your website to promote the online sign-up option.
- Have flyers or posters at your gym – preferably near the reception and where lines might occur – making it easy for members to skip the line and sign up via their phone instead.
- Make people aware of the online option on social media – and focus on how they can save a lot of queue time.