It’s easy to assume that if you’re measuring satisfaction, you’re also measuring gym member loyalty. Yet, satisfied members are not always loyal. Measuring loyalty, as well as satisfaction, is essential to your long-term success.

If you are only measuring satisfaction, you are doing it wrong. Well, not quite! It can still be helpful to measure satisfaction. But, if you want to keep more members for longer, you need to measure loyalty too.

Gym member loyalty vs. satisfaction

What’s the difference between loyalty and satisfaction? Let’s look:

Loyalty is a set of behaviours and attitudes that a member exhibits which show commitment to your gym or fitness club. Satisfaction is a member’s current attitude towards your business.

Satisfaction measures the past. Loyalty looks to the future. It’s easy to be satisfied with a 12-month membership that’s good enough and not raise any minor issues. Yet, when your contract is up, you may look elsewhere.

You NEED to focus on loyalty

Gym member loyalty measures something more than satisfaction. It tells you whether a member is willing to risk their reputation by recommending you to friends and family. And it tells you whether they’ll stick with you, even if you’re not always perfect.

If you’re only measuring satisfaction, you won’t know whether a member:

  • Will consider upgrading their membership or purchasing other services from you
  • Will keep their membership
  • Would recommend you to friends, family, and colleagues

Yes, it feels good to hear members are satisfied. Yet, understanding how loyal they are will let you unlock long-term business success. You’ll be able to fix any issues and keep members coming back for longer.

Measuring gym member satisfaction

Satisfaction is easier to measure than loyalty. It will help you understand whether a specific or recent experience met member expectations. It can be a fast way to stop disgruntled members venting publicly and get feedback to quickly fix any issues. And, seeing that members are satisfied will motivate your team to keep up the excellent work.

customer satisfaction score (CSAT) will help you understand your performance at a basic level. A high CSAT score shows a particular experience with you was smooth, predictable, and as expected. A low CSAT score shows that something wasn’t right with a specific experience.

CSAT surveys will ask members to rate how satisfied they were with a particular experience on a point scale (like 1-10). You can include free text to gather specific feedback.

How to measure gym member loyalty

Loyal members will recommend you to others. Write complimentary reviews. Keep renewing their membership. And consider buying other services and products from your fitness club.

Loyalty is harder to measure than satisfaction as it’s more subjective. Use a mix of quantitative (numerical) and qualitative (opinions/feelings) data to work out how committed your members are.

Measuring this loyalty can help you understand how much revenue you’ll get from members in the long-term. It will let you make meaningful changes to your member journey, facilities, and services. And provide a consistent experience to all members.

How can you measure member loyalty?

Member retention rate

You’ll be familiar with tracking retention rates. Did you know they also give you insight into member loyalty? If your retention rates drop it’s a sign you may have a loyalty issue.

When calculating retention rate, you first need to define a period for your measurement. Annual is a good starting point:

Member retention rate = ((number of members at the end of the year – number of members acquired during the year) /number of members at the start of the year) x 100

So, if you started the year with 2,000 members. Acquired 125 new members during the year. And had 1,500 members at the end of the year. Your retention rate would look like this:

68.75% retention rate = ((1,500 – 125) / 2,000) x 100

An IHRSA report suggested that the average gym holds a 66% membership retention rate. You can compare your average retention rate to this stat. Make sure you understand what a typical retention rate looks like for your business.

As well as looking at your annual retention rate, review it monthly and quarterly to spot any positive and negative trends fast. There will be seasonal drops. Increasing loyalty will minimise the number of members who cancel after peak months.

Member engagement

Engagement can be tough to measure. But it will tell you a lot about how loyal members are to your fitness club.

Review the insights available in your gym management software to find metrics that show members are engaged such as:

  • Visit frequency – members who visit you often (at least weekly) are most likely to be engaged. Look at your member data and work out how often your members typically visit. Identify groups and areas where you could work to increase visit frequency.
  • Email opens, clicks, and unsubscribes – engaged members are more likely to open and click through from your emails. Disengaged members will ignore or even unsubscribe. Review your open rates to start with – wellness & fitness businesses typically see open rates of 19.2%.

Away from your software look at:

  • Social media engagement – how you measure social media engagement will differ by platform. Generally, you’re looking to maintain consistent numbers of likes, comments, and shares. If engagement drops it could be a sign that member engagement is dropping.
  • Review sites – look out for reviews on Facebook, Google, and any other review sites. If you are getting negative reviews, it’s a sign that engagement is dropping. Acknowledge and accept these reviews. And take clear action to rectify issues raised.

Focus on understanding what engagement looks like for your business. And you’ll be able to use it to gauge the loyalty of your membership base, as well as of individual members.

Net promoter score (NPS)

NPS is a widely used metric that measures customer experience and predicts revenue growth. NPS asks members to rate on a scale of 0-10 how likely they are to recommend you to friends, family, or colleagues.

Members who give you a score of 6 or below are detractors. Those who give you a score of 7 or 8 are passives. And those who score you 9 or 10 are promoters. You’ll need to pay most attention to detractors and promoters.

Calculate your total NPS by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

NPS = % promoters – % detractors

The higher your score, the more loyal your members are.

Member loyalty index

Also known as customer loyalty index (CLI), this is an alternative to NPS that uses a similar points scale.

It’s a fantastic way to measure loyalty as you’ll get more detailed feedback than NPS. However, it’s a very direct approach. This can lead to members providing the feedback they think you want to hear, rather than being honest.

Your members will rate their responses on a scale of 1 to 6 (1= very likely, 6= not likely) to these three questions.

  1. How likely are you to recommend [your club’s name] to a friend?
  2. How likely are you to renew your membership with [your club’s name]?
  3. How likely are you to try out our other products/services?

To calculate CLI you find the average of the three responses.

Member lifetime value

Member or customer lifetime value (CLTV) is a metric that indicates the total revenue an average member will bring to your business.

CLTV = Average member revenue per year x average member lifespan

So, if you know most members pay $360 a year for their membership and have been with you for 3 years, your CLTV would look like this:

$1,080 CLTV = $360 x 3

CLTV shows you how much revenue your members bring to your club. As loyalty improves so will your CLTV.

Plus, looking at average length of time a member keeps their membership with you will help you understand loyalty. Much like CLTV, average lifespan should increase as gym member loyalty grows. If members are leaving as their membership ends that’s a sign you need to find ways to increase loyalty.

Improving loyalty

Now we’ve outlined some of the ways you can measure loyalty, let’s look at what you can do to improve it. Every gym and fitness club business is different. What works for you will depend on your business model and membership base.

Here are some ideas:

Go beyond meeting expectations, exceed them

For most gyms and fitness clubs this means focusing on your employees. Invest in your team, provide regular customer service training, and make sure every team member stays motivated. Loyal employees = loyal members.

Your fitness team should aim to interact with every member. Every 2 interactions with a member each month results in 1 extra visit the next month – members who visit more often are more likely to be loyal. Even the little things like knowing a member by name go a long way to exceeding expectations.

Offer something members can’t get elsewhere

Competing on price is tough in areas where you have plenty of competitors who offer something like you for a comparable price.

Think about rewards that would help you stand out from competitors. What would your members want? Analyse the demographics of your membership base. Think about your brand positioning – what do you do, for who and what makes you different.

Perhaps you focus on strength training, so can include a regular coaching session as a member reward. Or maybe you have a café and could offer members a coffee or shake each month.

Level up your communications

Did you know research has shown that email is a more effective way of communicating with members than phone calls? Choose gym management software, like Xplor Gym. Software that will let you send targeted, personalised email and SMS messages to members.

Nail member communications right from the start with a comprehensive gym member onboarding process. Create triggers to send personalised messages when members reach key milestones with you.

Need inspiration? Check out the Successful New Gym Member Onboarding Playbook. It features a full guide showing what message to send and when. And includes 20+ email and SMS templates you can use or adapt.

Download the playbook

Build a community

Helping members connect with one another is a wonderful way to create a sticky gym member experience. The stronger your community, the more members will want to remain a loyal part of your club.

Research from The Retention People (TRP) and IHRSA found that 70% of health club members who made new friends through their membership identified themselves as promoters rather than detractors. Create opportunities for members to make friends.

Some ideas include:

  • Creating a social space for members to stick around and socialised after their session
  • Running social events for members like quiz nights, seasonal parties, and meals out
  • Introducing inclusive fitness challenges for members to take part in
  • Hosting a charity fitness class to raise money for a worthy cause
  • Having an open weekend or day to encourage members to mix with one another with a friend there to break the ice
  • Inviting famous fitness influencers, instructors, or experts to host an exclusive session or meet and greet for members

Give members more flexibility

Start by prioritising payments, members want more flexibility over when they pay (often to align with pay day). This will help your payments experience. More choice over billing date means there’s less likelihood of a payment failing because of insufficient funds.

Use your software to manage gym billing. Choose a partner who can manage membership payments for you. So, you can give members more flexibility. Let members catch up on missed payments at their convenience. And give members access to a dedicated, trained contact centre for support. Meaning you’ll be free to focus on growing member loyalty.

Those are just some of the ways you can influence loyalty. Regularly measure and track loyalty to see how the actions you take are making your members stick with you for longer.

In essence…

If you are just focusing on satisfaction, you are missing an opportunity to drive business growth by improving loyalty. Loyal members will stay with you longer than satisfied members.

There are many ways to measure gym member loyalty. Retention rate, engagement indicators, NPS, CLI, and CLTV are all excellent indicators of member loyalty. Measurements you can come back to over time to see how loyalty grows.

Act and experiment, with your business and members in mind, to improve loyalty. Focus on increasing loyalty for long-term business success.

Request a demo to find out how Xplor Gym can help you measure and increase member loyalty.

Article by Xplor Gym

First published: 06 March 2023

Last updated: 09 February 2024