7 Reasons Your Members Leave (Part 1)

It’s one of the worst emails to get as a gym owner…

“Membership Cancellation”

When it happens to you, don’t feel bad about it, it has literally happened to every gym owner in the history of the world, and no matter what you do, you can’t completely eliminate it.

People have lives. Things actually do come up — as a result, members will always leave.

Our goal, then, is to make it happen less often, and never for reasons we can control.

So let’s review the top reasons members leave, and learn how to eliminate as many of those reasons as possible.

First, though, let me ask you a question:

What’s MORE important, getting members, or keeping them?

Obviously, both are important…

But let’s use a simple analogy:

You and your family are on a desert island. There is a single water source, and you’ve got one bucket. Maybe you even have as many buckets as you want … the only problem is those buckets have holes in them.

As soon as you pour water in, they start draining. You can’t keep the water!

What should your FIRST action step be? Keep filling up that bucket over and over, or figure out how to plug the holes?

You’ve got to plug the holes in the bucket so you can get some life-giving water back to your family so they don’t die of thirst.

Member retention isn’t as sexy as marketing, but the best marketing in the world won’t plug those holes … good marketing is powerful, but if it’s the only game you’re playing, you’re destined to lose in the long run.

But even in the marketing world, anyone who knows what they’re talking about knows the importance of a good backend. That’s all the stuff someone can’t see — automations, systems, processes — but is responsible for the lion share of business viability.

So, step one … fill the holes in your bucket (and, more importantly …

Build a system that does it for you

In our analogy, here are the 7 most common kinds of holes.

“I’m not seeing progress”

It can be hard for a beginner to notice their improvements. Of course, beginners improve the fastest, but numbers — quantification — doesn’t mean much yet, pounds and reps and sets and benchmarks … huh? Fitness example: Some people carry a lot of fat on the inside, and as their body burns that, their physical appearance doesn’t change much. Point is, beginners have it stacked against them … so it’s important to  show them where they are and how they’re improving.

The best way to do that is visually, in a quantified way, that YES, they are getting better! Pointing “Look at these ‘ere charts …”

If someone has stagnated, they may need a few short weakness-focused sessions per week, a couple personal training sessions, or some specific nutrition guidance from an expert coach.

But in order to know what’s happening, you’ve got to have a system in place that can show them (and the coaches) exactly what’s going on. Tools like the InBody and the Level Method, make this easy. No guesswork as to whether they are improving.

If they are, high five, let’s keep doing what we’re doing! If not, let’s do some fine-tuning, and see what we can do to deliver better results, experience, and value. Either way, it’s important to leave speculation out of it.

“I feel lost, overwhelmed and don’t know what to do”

If you run a successful gym, a lot of your folks are regular people… non-athletes, or in some cases, ‘used to be’ athletes. If they walk into your gym mid-group-class it’ll be an assault on the senses: screams, grunts, banging plates, loud music, crazy people doing seemingly crazy things in a strange-looking way. But that’s not the kind of overwhelm we’re talking about.

The ‘lost and overwhelmed’ that cause people to leave accumulates over time.

Folks come to class, and slowly realize they are pretty much bad at everything. We’ve all been there, right? A certain type of person takes that feeling by the horns, and attacks. Another type of person says: “no thanks, I’m going home.” It’s all too much to think about, and they’d just rather not. That feeling is why some people don’t come back.

Our job is to preemptively solve this problem by simplifying everything for them and help them clarify their goals so they’re set up for success. That process is actually good for those horn-grabbers too, clarity is good for everyone … We want to help folks see exactly what they should be focusing on… so out of the seemingly overwhelming number of weaknesses and “shoulds”, they can focus on just 2 or 3 of the biggest ones, that will pay off if consistently focused on. It’s the rule of the vital few, it’s not about doing all the things well, but the most important things best. In economics, those big things are called lead indicators, measurements that help predict an outcome. A good coach will help guide someone through defining goals, and then define a few lead indicators they can focus on… it’s one of the most important elements of a quality goal setting session.

Injuries caused by improper scaling/coaching or ego

It’s obvious but must be said: some coaches are more knowledgeable than others. Some of our members have bigger egos than others. How do you manage that? Rules. That’s how. Society has laws. We have rules. There has to be a system in place to maintain those rules and standard.

The only things that happen automatically, without effort, planning or systems, are bad things… it’s called entropy. And it’s natural for things to become more disorganized over time. If you’re a parent, you’ll quickly learn that allowing your child to choose dinner will lead to ice cream and pizza sandwiches! Candy and chicken nuggets until I throw up! Point is, they don’t know what they don’t know. And as a high-level coach or a gym owner, you’ve gotta be the adult in the room and enforce the rules that keep people safe. But, of course, there must be rules to enforce in the first place. And those rules are best when external, public, and known. Coach’s and gyms running the Level Method have the advantage of pointing to the wall and saying “Those the rules… sorry, it’s on this board right here… so don’t be mad at me if you’ve been doing kipping pull-ups for 5 years but still can’t do a strict pull-up”

Continue on to 7 Reasons Your Members Leave Part II

Nathan Holiday

CEO of Level Method, Nathan was born in Australia, grew up in CA, and joined the Army at 18. He deployed to Baghdad, Iraq as a Sniper team leader in 2006 and after being honorably discharged in 2008 went on to become a coach, athlete, and entrepreneur. He holds a BA in Business, earned at night while running his gym in the day. Nathan has extensive knowledge and experience in a wide variety of subjects and considers himself a committed, lifelong student.
Posted in