As most sports and fitness businesses know, most clients and members of a gym or studio will eventually cancel their membership or stop coming to classes or lessons. Especially as COVID continues to affect consumers on a global scale, businesses are seeing a deep decline in memberships. With this mass exodus of clients, revenue and profitability are inevitably hit hard.
So, is there anything that businesses can do to combat this? What steps should be taken after cancellation notices to ensure simplicity and goodwill, and to leave an open channel for them to begin another membership when the time is right? How can software contribute to a positive cancellation experience?
We will explore these questions and more in order to give you surprising insights into how you can actually build customer loyalty when clients cancel their memberships.
What to do when a client or member cancels
First, let’s talk about what makes a strong brand advocate. These are people who evangelize your workouts, rave about your trainers, and share your content (because it’s just that good). They eat, sleep, and breathe your programs, and introduce their circles to your club, gym, or fitness studio.
As Malcolm Gladwell preaches in his book The Tipping Point, these people are your connectors. “Connectors make change happen through people. They galvanize people. They’re natural hubs. That’s just the way they’re oriented to the world. These are people who, every time you ask a question, start flipping a Rolodex in the back of their mind, saying, “Who do I know who knows this? Who do I know who has done this? Who do I know that I need to connect you with?” They love connecting you with people, because they’re all about the people.”
But when your connectors are forced to cancel their memberships due to a sudden financial difficulty or life change (*COVID has entered the chat*), your business loses a valuable source of revenue and a strong pillar of your brand advocacy.
Matt Harrington, President of GymIt, says, in regards to this issue, “When members give notice, they’re told, explicitly, that they’ll be billed one more time, and can use the club through the end of that billing period. We want loyal and supportive alumni who can spread the word for us, and who, if their situation changed, would feel free to rejoin”.
Echoing Harrington’s thoughts, use the cancellation process as a last touchpoint to build on your connectors’ positive experience with your brand. Ensure there are systems in place to make cancelling memberships as hassle-free as possible so that your customers are left with a lasting positive impression of your business. You’ve put so much effort into shaping their ability to evangelize your brand, and cancelling shouldn’t change how they view their experience.
How powerful software shapes positive client cancellation experiences
So how can you build systems that make membership cancellations effective? First and foremost, ensure that your software partner is equipped to handle cancellations without hassle on either your end or your clients’. Upper Hand makes admin tasks easy from beginning to end and eliminates friction between the front desk and members. Delivering an unprecedented customer journey that grows businesses is critical to our mission, and offering a harmonious cancellation experience that leaves clients open to returning to your studio or gym when the time is right is important to us.
Upper Hand understands that a happy customer is integral to the success of your business. Our software gives you and your team the tools you need to understand and serve your customers in a way that is premium and personalized.
Vanessa Palestino, Upper Hand’s Vice President of Business Development was formerly a Pure Barre owner and has firsthand experience with member cancellation. She adds that “a great way to circle back with a member that cancels is to simply check in either via email or phone to make sure that they are ok. Especially in uncertain times, there could be a million reasons why a client cancels. Come from an authentic place when you check on them, and depending on their response, be sure that you keep them in mind regarding special deals or events that your facility is hosting in order to keep an open dialogue. This will assist in a higher possibility of reconnecting and regaining them as members in the future.”
Andrew Alfano, Chief Executive of Retro Fitness, adds “We are in the people business, and there’s no benefit for any gym to create a challenge for its members.”
Additionally, offering alternative paths to cancellation can help support your business, especially in difficult financial times like this. The Houstonian Club in Houston offers complimentary personal training and nutrition sessions to support holistic member needs, in addition to their classic offerings. “Our goal is to build relationships with our members for a lifetime. When they commit to us, we commit to them”, says Cher Harris, the club’s general manager.
Ultimately, as clients and members inevitably cancel, ensure that the process promotes simplicity and goodwill, and leaves an open channel for them to begin another membership when the time is right. Choose a software partner that will work with you to guarantee a hassle-free cancellation process that allows your brand advocates and connectors to continue evangelizing your offering. Doing so will allow you to actually build on their existing brand loyalty, even as they move on from your business.