Retention strategies centered around automation and innovation

By Brian Alexander, Two-Brain Mentor

Retention strategies centered around automation and innovation.

When it comes to “retention”, there is no silver bullet.

Every gym is different, every market is different and sometimes it seems like we as affiliate owners are just unlucky because people cancel, move, quit etc. It happens to all of us.

Control what you can control and don’t worry too much about the rest.

When I say, “Control what you can control” I am talking about systems, and more specifically retention systems. A brief history of Illumine: We opened our 1,700 sq.-ft. gym in May of 2013 with zero members, just like the rest of you.

From the beginning we implemented a group on-ramp program that caught like wildfire and we began to grow rapidly.  I had a full time career in B2B IT Solutions (Sales) and decided to turn my passion into a business. Like many of you, we opened our doors and just let things happen. Essentially we “Winged it,” and it worked.

But then this thing kept growing, and within 7 months of opening I moved to a 17,000 sq.-ft. location.  We grew so fast that we didn’t have time to create systems, implement systems, etc. We were just rolling with the punches.It wasn’t until December of 2014 that I tried implementing “Goal Setting” for my members as part of my retention strategy.  I used the standard “Google Docs Spreadsheet,” ran a report in Wodify, created enormous hype around our new “Goal Setting” process and sent forms out for our athletes to fill out.

Some bought in right away and filled the forms out, most didn’t take the time to and others never knew an email was sent.  Right from the start the system was flawed.  For those who took advantage of the new “Goal Setting” process, they happily filled out the forms and I entered it into the spreadsheet, wrote it on a “Goals Board” and proceeded to forget all about them until I opened the spreadsheet back up 2 months later.   Most of the athletes forgot about them too.  Then there was the overwhelming problem of having 15-20 new Onramp graduates per month needing to be added, the logistics of how and when to send them their goals, etc…

The spreadsheet failed miserably.   I failed miserably.  It was such an overwhelming, cumbersome process and frankly I would rather lose members than live in spreadsheets for the rest of my life.  I am an enormous proponent of creating efficiencies and making my life easier, not harder.  

I knew hope was not a strategy when it came to retention and even though we were growing rapidly, we were losing more members than I thought appropriate.  We were bleeding but I wanted to put systems in place to do everything in my power to stay close to our 300 athletes as we grew.  Having gone from 2 Coaches to 16 Coaches within 2 years was scary and I was beginning to feel a little disconnected with everyone at the gym.

It was then, March 2015, that I began looking for automated goal setting and tracking software.  I begged Wodify (not on the Growth ToolKit), I talked to some smart people about developing our own (and selling it) but that seemed like a little too much to take on even for myself, and then I found Lifetick.

Lifetick in and of itself isn’t and will not be your saving grace… However… the systems you have in place along with the help of automation will.

While there are no “Silver Bullets” and all software is flawed in some ways or leave things to be desired, after demoing Lifetick I decided to pilot this with some “Power users” who were members at Illumine.

My process (ever evolving) in a nutshell.

Step 1. Run attendance report and identify active members

Step 2. Schedule in person 1:1 Goal Setting Session via Acuity Scheduling or ScheduleOnce (I had our admin login to my Facebook page and send a personal note and link to schedule)

Step 3. During 1:1 Goal Setting Session fill out the athletes “Goals” sheet
Click here to view our Goal Setting Sheet

Step 4. Enter goals into Lifetick and assign “Homework” or tasks based on and related to those goals along with automated reminders.

Step 5. Tie to retention strategy.  If an athlete doesn’t show up for 1 week or more unexpected, have joy girl or retention specialist send a FB message or text message asking them, “Hey Joe, how is your Pull-up homework coming?  Did you get your first pull-up yet? When you do make sure to put it on our BrightSpots blackboard and take a picture!  If you haven’t let us know how we can help!”

Step 6.  Schedule next goal setting 1:1 session 3 months out.

Our goal criteria was based on the SMART Methodology of Goal Setting (You corporate folks know what I am talking about)  Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Timely.
We asked athletes to identify the following:

-(3) short term goals (0-3 months)
-(1) long term goal (3-12 months)
Attendance Goal
Body Composition Goal (We use Inbody 570 Body Composition Scanner)

The expected but unexpected consequence of sitting with each and every member was being able to talk about 1:1/PT, Excursions (you know them as specialty programs), events, body composition scans, nutrition programs and so much more.

It by far has been one of the most rewarding things I have done with my members in a long time… It also allow me to talk about our philosophy as a gym when it comes to programming and how to approach training for longevity as well as my philosophy on life.

The thing I really like about Lifetick is that it is scalable.  You can assign specific coaches to groups of athletes.

When I took on this “Goal Setting” initiative I knew it wasn’t sustainable for me to have to run through 300 members every 3 months and I would have to find a solution that allowed me to delegate to trusted Coaches who I could train.

Lifetick was it.

(BTW I don’t gain anything financially for promoting Lifetick)

Here is a snapshot of Lifetick’s interface/dashboard.
Once I fill out my Goal Setting sheet with our athletes, we have our admin/ATC coach enter these into Lifetick.
(I do it in person myself through conversation guiding them along the Goals Worksheet, but we also have an editable PDF if you prefer they fill it out ahead of time.  We find it more impactful to fill as we talk).
You can then enter the specific goals under the appropriate categories for the athletes. (Short Term, Long Term, Attendance, Body Composition) Lifetick names them “Core Values”
The ability to assign specific “tasks” to goals along with reminders is one of my favorite features of Lifetick.
For example, if Jesse Walton’s goal (Above) is Double-Unders, we assign specific homework or tasks along with weekly reminders to practice.  It’s all about accountability.   From there we typically talk about PT or workshops specific to their goals.

We usually pull content (YouTube videos) from our favorites like RPM, MobilityWOD, Carl Paoli, The Movement Fix, Darkside Strength etc, and link up specific drills and homework.

My personal goal is to make this my content making machine with Illumine branded video tutorials that we could link up in the tasks section based on goals.

Example; Muscle up.  We would have an Illumine branded muscle up progression video to link to the “Tasks”
We also do automated weekly reminders for Attendance Goals which athletes receive emails weekly reminding them of how many days they committed to coming.  It’s another gentle nudge in the right direction holding them accountable to showing up no matter how busy life gets.
You can easily connect them accomplishing their attendance goals and how it directly relates to them accomplishing their short term and long term goals.

I also like this because it allows them to stay focused when they are at the gym (outside of classes) to work toward their goals and not get sucked into the endless “Goal ADD” as I call it.  We have Open Gym Sundays from 9-12 and having identified goals and homework to work on helps them stay on track, focused and accomplish their goals quicker which leads to happy athletes and members.

Once an athlete attains a goal we encourage them to send us another one or enter it on their own and as their Coach we get an automatic notification.

Some things I wish Lifetick had but doesn’t:

– Integration with scheduling software like Acuity or ScheduleOnce
– A way to integrate into a software like Wodify so our Coaches could see a dashboard connected with people signed into class
– Still working through reporting functionality they offer but I would love to be able to run a report based on keywords in short term and long term goals in order to target athletes with specialty groups, workshops or 1:1 PT based on goal (Example, Muscle-ups, double unders) etc.

There are many more features on Lifetick but the ones listed were the ones I found value in the most.
As I said before this works for me, but isn’t perfect by any means.  The important thing is that you have a retention system in place that is tied to Goal Setting and having an efficient way to track those goals and update them.

Hopefully this all made sense!


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