The Exact Month-by-Month Plan to Lose 420 Clients in Five Years

Four dissatisfied gym clients stand in a group and give the thumbs-down gesture.

As gym owners, we often think about the number of clients we have.

Headcount is definitely important.

But stop for a minute and think about all your departed clients.

What’s the total number for the current life of your business?

And what would happen if you found a way to stop it from growing?

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

I’ll save you the calculations. Below are four simple scenarios.

We’ll ignore net client growth due to addition of new clients. The table below just shows the effect that monthly losses have on gross departures over one, two, three or five years.

Average Monthly Client LossAnnual Client LossLost Clients: 2 YearsLost Clients: 3 YearsLost Clients: 5 Years

Wow, right?

Even in a gym that loses just 3 clients a month, that’s 180 departed clients in five years.

Get this: That’s actually an entire gym’s worth of clients if you recall that Two-Brain data shows you can make $100,000 a year serving just 150 clients.

If your retention is worse and you lose five or seven people every month, the projections are horrifying.

Think of losing 420 clients in five years and what that does to a business:

  • You lose revenue as soon as each person departs.
  • You miss out on all the future revenue each person would have contributed if your length of engagement were better.
  • You lose access to each person’s network of connections.
  • You have 420 people who are telling others “I quit that gym.”
  • You have to acquire 420 new clients just to maintain revenue levels, and you probably have to spend money to do it.
  • If your close rate is 50 percent, you’ll need 840 sales meetings to replace the 420 clients. And you might have to get 2,000 or 3,000 leads in order to get 840 sales meetings. Maybe 5,000 or more if your set and show rates for sales appointments are very poor.
  • You have to onboard hosts of new clients and try to prevent them from leaving in the first 90 days, which are critical to retention.
  • You have to spend a lot of time with new clients, which means you aren’t spending as much time with long-term clients. This can destroy your retention rate and start a vicious cycle of churn in your gym.
  • Your staff members have to work extra hard to build relationships with new people.

And so on.

What If You Improved Retention?

Back when I ran a larger functional fitness facility, I was truly depressed when I compared our current client count against our alumni list. I had lost more than double the clients I actually had.

I won’t beat myself up over each one. Some moved to other parts of the city. Some moved to other cities. Some got shift-work jobs that forced them to train at 24-hour facilities. Sadly, some even died.

But the vast majority left for other reasons that can all be summarized like this: “I’m not getting what I need here.”

They clearly had fitness goals, but they either chose not to pursue them further or not to pursue them with me. If I thought I was a good coach, this realization forced me to admit I had a lot to learn as a business owner.

But enough with the doom and gloom. I present the table and tale to show you what can happen if you don’t focus on retention.

On the flip side is this scenario: A gym loses about 10 or 20 clients a year but is able to more than replace them just through referrals from a large number of satisfied current clients. The gym grows slowly and steadily, and as the client count increases, the owner improves her systems and her business model to ensure retention levels remain high. The owner makes a good living, her coaches have great careers, and her clients accomplish their goals.

A concise plan exists to ensure that scenario is a reality at your gym. You can avoid all the bleeding just by employing some simple but effective tactics.

I’d encourage you to review your own data. How many clients did you lose last month? Multiply your answer by 12, 24, 36 and 60.

If you want to learn how to reduce those numbers, book a call here.


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.