The $20-a-Week Gym Retention Hack That Will Change Your Business

A graphic in which a man draws a red shortcut through a white maze.

If you could spend $20 a week to keep your gym members longer, would you do it?

Dumb question, right? Of course you would.

But if you don’t currently have a client success manager (CSM) at your gym, studio, affiliate or strength-and-conditioning facility, your retention isn’t as good as it could be.

Read on for the warp-speed CSM implementation plan.

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

Let’s be clear: The CSM role is so important that some top gym owners are now creating full-time positions or hiring multiple people to do retention work. And Two-Brain clients have access to a host of tested, proven, plug-and-play retention tactics your new CSM can use to keep more high-value members longer.

I’m going to give you the hack that will cost you just $20 a week or $80 a month. It’s just a starting point—one small baby step—but it will improve retention.

So what’s retention actually worth? Get this: In 2018, the average gym owner who filled out our Gym Check-Up would have earned an extra $45,000 that year simply by increasing average retention by two months.

One more bit of math: If you pay a CSM $20 a week and the person gets one single member to stay for an extra month, you’ve more than paid for the role already.

Here’s your no-frills, start-here-and-go-further-later CSM plan.

High-Speed, Low-Drag Retention

Step 1: Hire anyone cheerful, friendly and literate for one hour a week. You might pay $15-$20 to start.

Step 2: Tell your new CSM to use the weekly hour to focus on these three things:

  • Run an attendance report and call or text every member who hasn’t checked in for a week. Sample: “Hey Sam! Miss ya at the gym. Where’ve you been?”
  • Call or text any member with a birthday and suggest they book a Goal Review Session. Sample: “Happy birthday, Sam! Hope it’s a good one! We love working with you. Wanna get together for 15 minutes to talk about your goals for the next year?”
  • Call or text any member who hit a PR. Pump their tires and inquire about their goals. Sample: “Sam! 200-lb. deadlift? YES! So proud of you. What’s your next goal in the gym?”

That’s it.

The CSM might not get to everyone in that hour. That’s OK in the early stages. We’re only spending $20 a week.

But you should be tracking your length of engagement at your gym—a mentor can show you how—and you’ll notice the number will start going up. When it does, revenue will go up, too. That’s a signal that you can—and should—invest more money and time into the CSM role. (Remember, top gym owners prioritize this role, and my toe-in-the-water plan isn’t going to solve all your problems.)

If you don’t track length of engagement, you should start. But if you’re not going to, get your CSM to log wins that will have a measurable effect on retention:

  • Any absentee member who shows up after a CSM contact is a huge win. People who don’t come for a week are at risk of canceling completely.
  • Any birthday person who books a Goal Review Session is a huge win. Our data shows that 30 percent of clients who do these sessions upgrade their memberships.
  • Any person who lists a new goal for the CSM is a huge win. Log that goal and tell the person how to make progress toward it.

Keep Investing

I’m not suggesting you take shortcuts with the CSM position. And I don’t believe it’s actually a one-hour-a-week role.

I am suggesting that this role is so important that you owe it to yourself to run a test, and I’d recommend that any investment is better than nothing. You can always scale up when you see a clear return on your investment.

How do you go further with a CSM?

You can find lots of additional CSM duties in this article: “Done-for-You Hiring Plan and Detailed Job Descriptions for Gym Owners.” Eventually, you’ll want to lay out a longer list of roles and tasks for the CSM and determine exactly how much time it takes to perform those duties each month.

Or, if you want to invest more in your gym’s success, you can work with a mentor. A mentor can help you make a precise, tailored, step-by-step plan to grow your business. It will definitely include tactics designed to measurably improve retention.

I wouldn’t suggest that path without offering more data: 93 percent of gym owners who sign up for our 12-week RampUp sprint add enough revenue to pay for the cost of the program.

Invest in your business in some way today—and reap the rewards.


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.