20 June 2022, by Till Pitschel
Check-ins: more than just admission control
In the wake of digitization, automatic gym admission checks are becoming more and more common. Whether it's a turnstile, an electronic door lock or a barrier, more and more fitness clubs are now recording the appearance of their members electronically. Any data collection offers the opportunity to learn something about customer behavior - and check-in is no exception. The following article highlights the four key learnings from member check-in data that can be used to draw conclusions about customer satisfaction and loyalty, and how they can be used proactively to build customer loyalty.
Frequency and regularity
Constant dripping wears away the stone. It is the same with the training behavior of members. Each check-in is a new data point that shows us how often and how regularly our member has shown up over the course of the year. However, regularity is more important here than sheer quantity for two reasons. Regular trainer contact has been shown to reduce a member's risk of quitting for the following month by 33 % (IHRSA, 2017). However, this can only be guaranteed with regular attendance.
Furthermore, pre-defined training goals cannot be achieved through sporadic training, but require regular attendance. The following calculation example shows why a look at the pure training quantity is not sufficient: A member appears twice a week within the first half of the year, and no longer during the rest of the year. If we now look at the pure check-in count, we see that our member has shown up for training 52 times. According to the key data report, one check-in per week is the training average in Germany (DSSV, 2022) and therefore we are on target as a studio. Without the background information of the regularity, the studio would miss the fact that this member has a strongly increased risk of quitting.
Day and time
Every studio has peak times and times of day when operations are a bit quieter. Likewise, there are days when the studio is naturally more crowded than others. Both pieces of information can be put into good correlation with user behavior. After all, if you know the preferred workout days and times via the check-in count, you can quickly see whether that member comes in at busy or quiet times. A member who has to go through rush hour traffic every time to wait at every machine in the studio has by nature a worse association with training than a member for whom both the streets and the studio are empty. So if you find members in your file who come exclusively at rush hour, stay relatively long even though the training plan calls for much faster workouts (perhaps this was once the reason for a contract), you can assume as a studio that the dissatisfaction of this member will increase quickly. There are several ways to accommodate such a member. First of all, you should try to adjust the training times, for example by adding a trainer appointment. This trainer appointment not only increases customer loyalty, it also shows the member the advantages of a different time (less traffic jam, empty parking lot, free equipment, trainers have time, ...). If such a trainer appointment can not come about or does not have the desired effect, you can offer the member courses (e-mail, WhatsApp, Facebook, ...), which fit the respective training goal and suboptimal capacity and thus kill two birds with one stone.
Identify potential training partners and focus more on the social component
If you know your studio and your studio software, you can very quickly determine if there are correlations between individual members' workout times. If you make a note of these times and training habits, you can create an opportunity for a training partnership. This training partnership not only ensures that exercisers show up more often, but they also stick with workouts longer and train harder on average (Strava, 2018).
Foresight and communication
At first glance, these two keywords do not belong directly in the context of check-ins. But complex correlations should not be pushed aside after the first glance. If you look at the training behavior of members and notice irregularities over the course of the year, it is often worthwhile to look at the history of longstanding members for similar patterns. For example, many members have longer absences at the same times. If one relies on the recommendations of the common studio management programs, an email or a phone call is due for a two-week absence. But for members who are absent at similar months for always the same time, the reasons are rarely lack of commitment or lack of satisfaction. Vacations and vacations are often the driver for absence here. So if you speak to these customers before the supposed absence and find out that a vacation is actually coming up, you can do a lot for the customer's loyalty. On the one hand, the customer experiences an appreciation (WOW effect) that he would not have expected. On the other hand, you can give the member a contractual rest period for this vacation time. In this way, you not only show the member your appreciation for this vacation, you also bind him or her to the studio longer and increase the positive associations when it comes to renewing the contract.
Who deals with its data, knows more than others. Those who then know how to use this knowledge gain a tremendous competitive advantage. However, all that knowledge about how to use check-in information is worthless if you don't have the appropriate processes, let alone the appropriate people, to turn that knowledge into tangible change. As with all aspects of customer loyalty, success stands or falls on the commitment and communication skills of employees. However, the knowledge that check-ins provide can be a great asset to the gym and its members if used appropriately.
About the author
Till Pitschel is an expert in fluctuation management and customer loyalty processes, author, speaker and personal trainer. Together with two partners, he runs the startup "Keep Your Member" to provide studio managers with comprehensive advice on fluctuation processes and customer retention strategies. For more information, visit www.kym-solutions.de