All learning is individual, every single one of us interprets information in a different way. This short blog is a summary of how I (Keith Smith) absorbed and processed the outstanding material delivered at the Retention Convention 2019.
The Retention Convention is in its fifth year, and each year it has a central theme. This year was no different, and the focus for 2019 was around Operators talking to Operators.
The main speakers were Chris Stevenson, from America. Jose Teixeira, from Portugal and Dean Hodgkin form the UK. Paul Bedford ended the day with a session around how the fitness industry has changed over the last 7 years, and the factors that a facility needs to consider to be successful.
Mid-afternoon was given-up to a panel session comprising of four very different operators answering questions, posed by operators in the audience.
Interacting with many attendees, it seems everyone obtained something from the day. Whether it be a new, beneficial notion, in their battle to retain members, reinforcement they are moving in the correct direction or having their confidence built around continued execution and appraisal.
What was clear is that there is not just one methodology or strategy in successful operations, and that retaining members is a 24/7 pursuit.
What follows are a few personal takeaways from the day; (in no particular order…)
- with the growth of the industry over the years, just offering fitness is no longer enough
- today’s operators have an overarching challenge, and that is to create, deliver, manage and
continually progress an EXPERIENCE for their members
Providing such an offering is not about reproducing what others are doing. Instead, it is about evaluating what is currently being delivered within their own facility, in-line with the membership base and their specific requirements. The facilities individual values and mission must then be considered, before analysing both the competition and the current trends. When all of this is evaluated there is an opportunity to create something tailored to the members, that is truly unique.
It is REASONING not reproducing that is key in the quest to provide an experience the facility user will continually buy into. In fact, it’s not even buying, it’s more like consuming. The emotional attachment, to an experience, is more of a devouring of the offering, than a purchasing process.
This is why, knowing your members and their behaviours is fundamental to success. From age and gender, to visit frequency and duration, to the journeys they take around the facility, to the length of time a member remains a member. It all matters.
This is why both information and how it is best utilised, are key in the battle for membership retention. Using technology and digital offerings to gather data to support the continual facility evaluation process seems indispensable to many of the operators. Several of them having opted for a bespoke digital solution, to support data gathering.
Finally, it was made clear that staffing standards are paramount to success, i.e. the time, care and devotion to employing the right team members and then continually developing the personnel, in line with the facility offering.
It seems many hours of structured staff development have been created (and delivered) to ensure all in-house learning and development has direction, meaning and purpose, focused upon supporting the member experience. Through dedication of the continual coaching process of all staff, every minute of the day, every day of the week, means the member experience is not only consistent, but
continually, pleasantly, surprising. I enjoyed listening to all the information delivered at this year’s Retention Convention.
I look forward to attending again in 2020.
Keith Smith – Partner EDT