3 ways to increase gym membership


Retention has always been a challenge for gym owners. One of the key metrics gym owners need to keep on top of is member retention. In this article, we discuss with local examples of how you can employ certain strategies to boost membership renewals. The temptation is to focus on constant acquisition and growth and let retention take care of itself. However, over time, you will realize the cost of acquiring new customers become more costly and each customer end up spending less in the gym than the cost you spent acquiring them.

1. Keeping the gym experience fresh.

Keeping an experience fresh involves constantly innovating and changing the customer experience. In the context of a fitness studio, changing the customer experience can be through introducing new classes, term programmes and increasing the interactions between gym members. Here are some examples of local gyms who created ways to excite their members: 

  • Personalizing one’s gym experience

Customised group workouts at this gym make exercising for beginners easier. Techniq, is a gym providing clients a personal training level of attention and technique correction in a group setting. Techniq aims to take the best of both worlds by creating a small-group training system, founded on the principles of movement quality and sustainable results. 

  • Tracking and rewarding progress 

Tracking and rewarding progress can validate the effort of clients and encourage them on their transformation journey. For example, the popular BFT has its 8 week challenge granting members access to meal plans, recipes and unlimited training at its studios using technology tracking. 

  • Staying up-to-date with trends

Keeping up with the latest fitness trends and introducing new equipment, classes, and programs is key in keeping members interested and motivated. Check out our previous blogpost for more information on the new wave of fitness classes to try out this 2023.

2. Build loyalty programmes

Programme Elaboration Strength Weaknesses
Tiered Loyalty Programmes A tiered loyalty program separates benefits into different levels, with more rewards offered to customers in higher program tiers. 

With each tier comes better benefits. Features like membership loyalty bars and milestones gamify the loyalty program and keep the experience fun. 

Members who are of a higher tier may feel special and exclusive, making them less likely to withdraw their membership. 

– Focuses on higher-value customers of a higher membership tier by giving them the best rewards. 

– Can offer better experiences across tiers as compared to the traditional points programs which do not differentiate between its users. 

– More opportunity for customization of tiered benefits. 

– Not as attractive for lower-tier customers that won’t spend as much

– Member relationships can be jeopardized if they are downgraded

– Starting at the bottom tier may be a bigger barrier to entry as compared to free points programs

In Singapore, boutique studio Movement Pole and Aerial Studio leverages on a loyalty program by rewarding members with experience points whenever they spend at the studio. These points then translate to rewards that members can redeem, an easy but effective way to encourage membership renewals!
Referral Loyalty Programme Referral loyalty programmes leverage Word Of Mouth Marketing to build credibility for its brand. 

For a referral loyalty programme to be successful, there are two key factors at play: 

Firstly, the strength of incentives. The incentives should be valuable enough to motivate customers to make referrals, however it should not be so expensive that they are not cost-effective for the business. Incentives can be discounts on their own membership, coupons, or cash rewards.

Secondly, the ease of participation. The referral program should be easy to participate in, with clear instructions on how to refer new customers. If the program is complicated or requires a lot of effort from customers, they may be less likely to participate.

– Higher conversion rates: referrals come from satisfied customers who are likely to have a higher level of trust in the business. Hence, referred customers are more likely to convert into paying customers because they have received a recommendation from someone they know and trust.

– Cost-effective: Referral programs are often less expensive than other customer acquisition methods, such as advertising or marketing campaigns.

– Boosts customer loyalty: Referral programs can also increase customer loyalty by rewarding existing customers for their referrals, which can lead to repeat business and long-term customer relationships.

– Reputation of the business: If the incentives or referral process are seen as unethical or spammy, it can create a backlash and damage the business’s reputation, reducing the likelihood of customers participating in the program.

– Ineffective incentives: Referral programs rely on offering valuable incentives to customers, and if those incentives are not attractive enough, customers may not participate.

– Limited reach: Referral programs rely on customers to refer their friends and family, which can limit the reach of the program.

Sweatbox Yoga, another boutique yoga studio in Singapore, rewards members with a free class whenever members refer a friend to class. In this saturated fitness space, the cost of acquiring a customer can be quite high. Giving away free classes to evangelists definitely sounds like a good way to promote renewals while inviting new trials at the studio.

3. Offer flexible membership options

Package Elaboration Strength Weaknesses
Class Sharing Packages Gyms offering sharing packages for allow two or more members to share a class package.  – Flexibility for Customers: Class sharing packages provide customers the flexibility of choosing how many credits they will use and how many they want to share in the class package. 

– Enhanced motivation: Sharing packages incentivises friends to attend classes together. This allows for peer motivation and mutual accountability. Eventually, a sense of community and loyalty created among customers, leads to repeat business 

– Pricing Strategy: Determining the pricing of class sharing packages can be challenging, as it requires careful consideration of factors such as the cost of each class, the variability in customer demand with shared packages and profitability. Pricing too high may deter customers from purchasing, while pricing too low may result in lower revenue and profitability.

– Operational Challenges: Managing class sharing packages may require additional administrative overhead, including tracking and reporting of class usage, expiration dates, and customer inquiries. This could add complexity to your gym’s operations and potentially increase administrative workload.

Local boutique studio Jyan Yoga Studio sells class sharing packages to encourage members to purchase larger membership packages (talk about cashflow!) while incentivizing members to motivate each other to attend classes. This has proven to be a very effective strategy to encourage membership renewals. 
Pay-As-You-Go Members pay a fee for each visit or each class they attend, without committing to a long-term membership. Capture additional revenue: attract individuals who are visiting your area, or those who prefer occasional or infrequent gym usage, generating income that may not have otherwise been captured through long-term memberships.

Potential for membership conversion: allow potential customers to experience your gym before committing to a long-term membership. If they have a positive experience during their visit, they may be more likely to consider becoming a regular member.

Flexibility: customers who may not want to commit to a long-term membership or have unpredictable schedules that do not allow for regular gym attendance. It caters to their needs and provides an option for occasional use.

Lower Revenue per visit: Compared to long-term memberships, day passes typically generate lower revenue per visit and lack the same level of consistent and recurring revenue as long-term members, which could impact your gym’s overall profitability.

Potential for Crowding: Day pass users may contribute to increased crowding during peak hours, which may inconvenience regular members and potentially affect the quality of their experience.

Administrative Overhead: Managing day pass sales, tracking usage, and ensuring compliance with policies and procedures may require additional administrative overhead, including tracking and reporting, which could be time-consuming and require additional resources.

It’s important to provide affordable drop-in rates, to promote trials for new members who are unsure if the gym is right for them. Local gym Grityard sells single Drop-in class pass that costs $30.00, which allows members to attend different classes throughout the day before they commit to a long-term membership with the gym. 

In conclusion, getting members to renew their membership can be eased with the use of technology. Functions like automatic push notifications to remind them to renew memberships or push discounts before the membership expires ease administrative tasks for you. A booking system like vibefam allows for these push notifications and enable a higher degree of customisation when it comes to selling membership packages that encourage renewals. 

This article was written by Kelly Low.

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