The Only Thing Fitness Business Owners Need to Do For Retention

January 29, 2022


Almost unanimously, the biggest problem faced by Fitness Professionals is getting new clients or members. But it really shouldn’t be.

It’s no secret that the most important element of marketing for a Fitness Business isn’t what many people would consider marketing… retention.

Even with very few new leads, if you’d have kept every client or member who started with your business since you began, your business would be successful beyond belief.

While a 100% retention rate may not be realistic, we can move in the direction of this ideal number.

And the beauty of retention is, there’s only really one thing at a time you need to focus on to build better member retention… but that ‘one thing’ may be different for everyone.

Let’s talk about how to find the ‘one thing’ for your Fitness Business.

We need to begin by completely rethinking the outdated ‘sale funnel’ concept.

This concept illustrates that new clients entering your business do so through a ‘funnel’. At the top of the funnel, there are a lot of potential clients, and as they progress through the ‘sales process’, the number reduces, until you eventually have paying clients trickling out of the bottom of the funnel.

Then you crack the champagne because you’ve ‘won’ a new client.

But why do we say this is outdated?

Because acquiring a new client isn’t the victory. It’s the beginning.

Instead of focussing on the funnel, focus on what happens once the client becomes part of your business.

Focus on the experience you’re providing them, and how that experience solves their problems.

Instead of a funnel that exists before they start with you, let’s think of this as a hose that your clients travel through once they’ve started.

If you want more water coming out of the end of the hose, you need to plug any holes in that hose.

And which holes should you plug first? The biggest ones of course. Look along that hose and find the biggest hole. Fix it. Then find the next biggest. Fix that one too. Repeat this process until the hose is leak proof (there will always be holes, so you’ll always be fixing them, but that’s fine – it’s part of the game).

So how do we actually do this?

The first thing you need to do is track your client experience, the long-term journey your clients go on as they travel through your business. For any client currently in your business, you should be able to identify how long they’ve been with you, and the the steps they’ve gone through in their journey. For any clients who have left your business, you need to know two things:

  1. Which stage of the journey they were at they left (how many days, weeks, months, years or decades they’ve been with you).
  2. The reason they left (hint: ‘financial reasons’ doesn’t mean they can’t afford you, it means they can’t find value in you. And ‘moving house’ doesn’t mean they don’t have time to travel to you, it means they don’t value the experience enough to spend that time traveling).

So the biggest hole in the pipe is the most common time your clients are leaving your business.

We use this information to do two things:

  1. Improve the client experience for the month leading up to this ‘big leak’. If the biggest leak is at three months, improve what you’re doing between months two and three. If the biggest leak is between a free trial and the first paid session, improve the experience of the free trial.
  2. Address the most common reasons people are leaving your business. There will be some common themes, so identify these common themes and fix them.

Business (just like fixing a leaky hose) can be overwhelming.

So let’s simplify.

Find the biggest leak, and fix it (by improving the client experience before that leak). Once you’ve fixed that, find the next biggest leak and fix that too.

One at a time.

And before you know it, your retention rate will be sitting in the high 90s, and lying awake at night worrying about where your new clients are going to come from will be a distance memory.

Dan Williams

Dan Williams


Dan Williams is the Director of Range of Motion and leads a team of Exercise Physiologists, Sports Scientists, Physiotherapists and Coaches. He has a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Science) and a Postgraduate Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science from The University of Western Australia, with minors in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology.

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