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How Gyms Can Win Back Old Members, With Club OS

How Gyms Can Win Back Old Members, With Club OS

With Club OS, gyms can create automated email and text message campaigns to bring former members back into the fold

Gyms understandably put a lot of effort into adding new members, but many neglect a profitable aspect of the acquisition and retention lifecycle – winning back clients who’ve recently canceled their memberships. 

According to Club OS, a sales engagement and marketing automation software provider whose clients include World Gym, Gold’s Gym and Retro Fitness, clubs can significantly increase revenue by focusing on member “win-backs.”

With Club OS, gyms can create automated email and text message campaigns to target their entire pool of former members or specific subsets of that population based on age, gender, group fitness class preferences, and more.

While you won’t get all of your canceled members to recommit, winning back just a small percentage of old members can equate to sizable gains in revenue, especially for large gyms with thousands of members at a single location and potentially millions company-wide. 

“We see customers who quickly put together a multi-touchpoint campaign and see a 1% win-back, which is actually high when thinking about the low effort of sending automated emails and text messages,” said Nick Hahn, VP/Product & Development at Club OS. “There’s no sales staff involvement, so the ROI is usually tremendous.” 

Highly targeted campaigns, like ones sent out in December to former members who canceled over the summer, can see rejoin rates as high as 5%, Hahn notes.

Hahn shared some tips with Athletech News on how gyms can stage effective member win-back campaigns. 

Give Canceled Members Some Space

It may seem counterintuitive, but gyms should resist the urge to start communicating with former members immediately after they cancel their membership. 

“Once they’ve canceled you want to give them some space for a bit, because there’s usually a reason why they left,” Hahn says. 

Hahn recommends that gyms don’t communicate with former members for around 60 to 90 days after they cancel their membership. After that quiet period, someone in a non-sales role should reach out to the former member to begin the win-back process.

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Focus on New Features, Not Price

When trying to win back old members, gyms should emphasize updates in equipment, services, and facility enhancements rather than offer discounts on monthly fees. Data reveals that price isn’t the primary reason why most members cancel, and even for those who cite cost, a single free month is unlikely to change their decision.

“At this point in the life cycle, if they wanted to go somewhere cheaper, they’re already somewhere cheaper,” Hahn notes.

Instead, gyms should inform former members about improvements they’re making to their facility, including small stuff like replacing the headrests on bench press machines.

“Something as simple as that could have been the reason why someone canceled,” Hahn notes. “Always articulate the capital investments you’re putting into place.”

For bigger investments, like adding a sauna, gyms should get creative in how they communicate that change with former members.

“Start a whole campaign about sauna and the benefits of recovery,” Hahn says. “You can have a whole email cadence, four or five messages about why they should be coming back. It’s an opportunity to create a whole new conversation and relationship with these former members and reinvent how they think about you.”

Gyms should also consider surveying current and former members about their preferences, addressing specific pain points from those surveys, and communicating with canceled members about those changes.

See Also

Be Strategic About Text & Email

Club OS gives gyms the ability to send targeted or mass email and text message campaigns to win back old members. Understanding the appropriate communication method (text or email) for each member is crucial.

Unsurprisingly, texts tend to perform better with younger populations like Gen Z and Millennial members and email tends to work better for older groups. Since gyms have access to the birthdays of their members, they should send specific campaigns to specific age groups. 

On the whole, texting is more effective – the overall conversion rate was 20% higher for texts compared to emails according to data Club OS pulled from August – but gyms should be selective about when to employ texts. For the recipient, text messages feel more direct, whereas an email feels somewhat passive. If mismanaged or overdone, however, text communication can feel intrusive. 

Hahn suggests clubs only text canceled members on occasion, such as for rare promotions or to invite them to try out a new piece of equipment. A good example is a 90-day post-cancellation text from a general manager inviting a canceled member to come in and test out a new sauna the gym recently installed.

Text messages must also feel personalized, so they should come from someone important and visible within a club, be casual and conversational in tone, and reference the recipient by name. 

“It can’t feel like a blast message even though it is,” Hahn says of text campaigns. 

At the end of the day, whether it’s through text or email, gyms should seriously consider making client win-backs a bigger part of their acquisition and retention strategy.

“Sometimes, it can be much easier to ask for a second chance,” Hahn says. “Those members loved you for a reason, you’ve just got to find what made them tick.”

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