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Creating An Onboarding Strategy For Your Gym Members

Vaishwi Sinha
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Every new customer that buys a membership to your gym must feel like a win. However, considering almost half of all new customers drop out within the first 6 months, that is often short-lived.

While it’s easy to write this off as people not having the will to be consistent or not being serious about their gains, the truth is that a lot of gyms do not have a strategy in place for one of the most important customer retention activities: onboarding new customers.

We’re here to walk you through the process of creating an onboarding process for your gym members, so don’t sweat it if you’ve never done this before.

What is customer onboarding?

A simple explanation for onboarding new gym members is everything you do in the time between signing up a new customer to celebrating their fitness goals with your gym.

Onboarding a new customer is not a one-time activity as much as it is a process. It is the post-sales process that is aimed at integrating your new customers into your gym’s culture so that they can make the most of their gym experience by consistently training and working out.

Importance of creating an onboarding experience

We’ve all experienced signing up for a service and suddenly finding ourselves in the deep end without any idea how to utilize what we’ve paid for. That is what a new gym member feels like without an effective onboarding process.

Here are some of the reasons why creating an onboarding experience for your new gym members is so important.

Importance of creating an onboarding experience

Improved customer retention

While bringing in new customers is incredibly difficult and expensive, the real money is in retaining the customers you already have. In fact, if you improve your fitness studio’s retention rate by 5%, you will see an increase in profits anywhere between 25% to 90%.

The main reason people tend to back out of their gym memberships is that they find navigating the first few months of their fitness journey very difficult, and that is exactly what a good onboarding experience addresses.

Improved sales

Once you know you’ve got customer retention covered, you free up more time to concentrate on bringing in new customers, which creates more revenue streams for your business.

Creates advocates

A great onboarding experience creates an environment that’s more conducive for your new gym members to reach their fitness goals. The closer they get to their goals, the happier they are.

Happy customers have this excellent habit of talking to their friends and families about their positive experiences, and we all know that word of mouth has been the most trusted marketing tool since time immemorial.

In fact, a study of American consumers showed that 83% of them were more likely to subscribe to a service or buy a product because of word-of-mouth advertising. With a good onboarding process, you’re effectively creating advocates and brand ambassadors for your gym who will bring in new money.

Adds to the gym experience

Most importantly, your fitness brand will grow only when you have customers who truly enjoy their gym experience.

A fully thought out and planned onboarding strategy will ensure your new members have enough help to fit into their fitness regimen without feeling like they’ve been thrown into the deep end without floats. Additionally, it also makes sure your older customers aren’t abandoned either.

How to design an onboarding process for your gym

Now that you know how much your gym stands to gain with a great onboarding process, let’s jump into the process of designing one.

Understand your audience

This is a recurring theme with a lot of aspects of the fitness business: you need to properly understand your target audience and their needs.

Start doing this by running a survey with your existing customers and understanding what worked for them when they joined your gym and what their pain points were.

Were there things they felt they needed guidance with that they didn’t get? What was the most challenging part of joining your gym for them? What would they have liked done differently during their first month as gym members?

This data will give you the base you need to start planning your new gym member onboarding process.

Set up an initial consultation

The first thing you should do when a new member joins your gym is set up an initial consultation. This consultation is for you to understand their needs better.

Begin by asking them to fill up a small questionnaire, with details like their name, age, and what fitness goals they want to achieve. Then, talk to them about themselves and these goals.

Make a note of important information, like whether they have any previous experience with working out in a gym, any medical conditions or injuries you should be aware of, what type of a workout program they’re looking for and what level of coaching or assistance they will need to achieve their goals.

You can even ask if they have any pet peeves you should know about. For example, some people prefer not to have loud music while they work out, while others cannot work out without loud music.

Ideally, all of this information should be noted and used to build a customer profile. A part of this process should also involve taking the customers around the facility and letting them know about everything that is at their disposal. While a walkthrough would have been done in the presales period, this one should be more detailed.

This is also a good time for you to motivate your customers and help them set realistic fitness goals based on factors like their BMI and current level of fitness.

Focus on the first workout

Once you have a fair idea of the current physical fitness level of your customers, have their first workout plan ready within the next three days.

Ideally, the same person who handled their initial consultation should guide them through their first workout session as well. That way, it becomes easier for the customers to transition into a regular workout routine.

The first workout should include explaining the purpose of the exercise routines you have scheduled for them, showing them the right way to do these exercises, and getting them used to simple voice commands for posture correction.

Your initial consultation should have also helped you gauge what type of approach to training works best for each new customer. While some people like the boot camp approach with a lot of energy, shouting, and hype, others prefer a more quiet and measured guidance style.

Once the first workout is done, talk to customers and find out how their first workout felt. This would also be a good time for them to understand that unless they’re paying for a personal trainer, they may not always have the same trainer to guide them. And even though help will be at hand, they will not have 100% guided workouts always.

Set up regular communication

Setting up regular communication

The easiest way to establish customer engagement is by maintaining regular communication with them.

There are multiple things you will need to do to ensure regular communication between your gym and your customers exists. The first thing is to ask your new customers what their preferred communication channel is: some people prefer getting messages, while others prefer emails.

Once that has been decided, you will need to plan the frequency with which you want to communicate with them. While it may be sufficient to engage with your long-term customers once a month, you will need to communicate with your new customers more often to keep them engaged.

As for the content for these messages, you could send a congratulatory message at the end of their first week to reaffirm their commitment to their fitness, send nutrition and exercise tips based on their needs as well as motivational content.

We understand that you cannot come up with unique content for each customer, and will need to use a bulk messaging or email system for convenience. This is once again where the data from your initial consultation comes in handy.

You can easily create buckets depending on customer needs, and create content specific to a bucket type.

Create a knowledge base

There is a lot of misinformation about physical fitness floating around that can misguide and demoralize your customers. Among these are harmful dietary information, myths about fat reduction, and quacks selling quick-fix solutions that do not work.

An integral part of your onboarding process is to keep them motivated, and an essential part of that process is to ply them with correct information. There are multiple ways you could do this.

Here are three effective ways to build a reliable knowledge base.

  • Make your website a knowledge hub, and encourage your customers to go to your website and read blog posts generated by your fitness business on topics that are accurate and relevant to their needs.

  • Create unique video content for your customers, including webinars and short instructional videos about various techniques, diets, workouts, and more.

  • Create a fortnightly newsletter addressing related topics. Be sure not to overfill your newsletter with information, or to make the content too dry. The content should be easy to read while still being informative and motivating.

Keep in mind that your content should also cater to the various age groups, sexes, and body types your gym caters to, and should not be aimed only at a particular category.

Build your gym community

Gym community building

Nothing says community more than people working out together, and you have the opportunity to build an inspired fitness community. You can do this by introducing new members to existing ones, and encouraging the occasional group workout session.

This gives the new members an opportunity to see your old timers' progress with your gym, while the older customers get to motivate and show the newbies the ropes. This will actually inspire your older customers to stick on to their fitness goals as well.

Evaluate and adjust

What we’ve discussed so far is not a process set in stone, as much as it is a step in the correct direction. Your onboarding process should evolve based on your feedback mechanism.

Once your new customers have completed their first month, go back to them with a questionnaire about how their first month felt, and see if anything could have been done better for them.

Another thing you will need to do is keep an eye on your attrition rate. Are too many members leaving early in the cycle? What is the reason for people to opt-out of their membership with your gym?

The reasons for this may not always be what you want to hear but they are essential to improve your customer onboarding and retention processes.

Create a seamless gym onboarding process with Bookee

Want help with the multiple aspects of customer onboarding as well as retention? Bookee is here to help. Here’s how you can leverage Bookee’s solutions to create a seamless gym onboarding experience.

  • We build you a fully functional website and mobile application, making everything from signing up for a new membership to staying updated with the latest fitness tips and blogs of information you publish a breeze.

  • Our gym management tool helps your team build customer profiles and track their progress. You can then send them reminders and congratulatory messages and/or emails from the same platform as well.

  • Want to track attrition and get back in touch with those who quit? You have easy access to all that information on Bookee’s gym management system.

  • Reward your customers for being your brand ambassadors by running referral reward programs, facilitated by our easy-to-use gym management system.

Visit our website now to learn more about how choosing Bookee can help you run your gym more efficiently and free up productive time to grow your fitness business.

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Vaishwi Sinha Bookee Writer
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Vaishwi Sinha

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