FTC to Regulate Gym Cancelations? Client Success Manager to the Rescue!

A closeup photo of a piece of paper with "cancelation policy" on it.

The Federal Trade Commission wants to make it easier for clients to cancel gym memberships.

Here’s what that means to gym owners: A client success manager will be even more important if the FTC has its way.

A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

The details: In late March, the FTC proposed a rule that would help consumers get out of subscription services. The “click to cancel” proposal would make it just as easy to quit as it is to sign up.

For example, if you signed up for a service online, you could quit online without an exit interview under the proposed regulations. This would affect cell-phone services, newspapers, gyms and other businesses—any U.S. enterprise with subscriptions or memberships.

The proposal has just moved past the first step in the process: a 3-1 vote in favor of publishing a “notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register.” The next step: getting feedback from the public.

You can read more about the process here.

If the proposal goes through, it’s going to be even more important for gym owners to keep clients happy and solve problems before members decide to cancel.

How do you do that?

Hire a client success manager (CSM) or ensure your CSM is doing the right things at the right time.


CSM for the Win


To keep clients happy, your coaches must do a great job getting results for clients. But when it comes to retention, you need to think outside the class, too.

You would be very wise to ensure someone in your business is focused on solving client problems and retaining members.

Here are more details on client success managers: “Retention Secrets From the World’s Best Gym Owners.”

Here are some ways you can use a CSM to prevent cancelation requests from appearing:

1. Have your CSM show clients love regularly with in-person high-fives, text-message congrats, cards and gifts. Don’t just assume this will happen. Make a clear plan, put it in your staff playbook and ensure your CSM is showering each of your clients with love.

2. Have the CSM reach out to clients who have been absent for a short period. Encourage them to come back and ask if they need anything. This is a great opportunity to solve problems for clients. For example, it’s possible a client who’s struggling to make group classes doesn’t even know she can switch to personal training. A client who’s off after minor surgery might not know he can work with a nutrition coach to maintain momentum before the stitches come out. And so on.

3. To ensure follow-up, make sure the CSM is in very close contact with the person who performs Goal Review Sessions (if the CSM doesn’t do the reviews personally). For example, if a client is unhappy with progress in a goal review, the coach should adjust the prescription to get back on track. But what if that coach documented the issue for the CSM, who can then follow up with the client and show a little extra love? That will let the client know she was heard and her concerns are being addressed. If she’s still unhappy, the CSM can work harder to retain the client. If the CSM does goal reviews personally, established follow-up procedures will ensure at-risk clients are given the white-glove treatment.


Be Proactive!


The FTC proposal will really only affect gym owners once a client has decided to cancel. When that situation arises, the gym is already trying to change the client’s mind. That’s hard.

If you’re proactive with retention, fewer clients will reach the cancelation stage. Instead of having to fight to keep a client who’s already over the edge, you just have to pamper happy clients and make course corrections for slightly unsatisfied clients.

So don’t sweat the FTC proposal on gym cancelations.

If you work hard to keep clients happy all the time, it won’t affect you at all.

To learn more about how we help gym owners measurably improve retention, book a call here.

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