Put a lid on attrition with you computer. Part 4

Until recently, many of the software systems could only hold a few fields of information, and data had to be coded to reduce the amount of space it occupied. Now, you can enter the name of an event/program in members’ files and access the members’ names or membership numbers to track their participation since joining your facility. Imagine the power that you will have in phone conversations with members you know all about!

This enhanced capability allows us to look at individuals and determine whether those members who are leaving have participated in more, less or the same number of programs as those who are staying. While this information can be tracked manually by comparing program registration sheets to exit interviews, it’s time-consuming. With the software you currently have, you can begin comparing usage data. Pull reports for inactive members and see how many of them leave. Do the ones who stay have family and friends using the club? After a while, you will identify trends, and you can adjust your scheduling, marketing, programming and staff direction to impact your retention.

Watch industry computer companies closely over the next trade show season, because you’ll soon be seeing software systems that can give you reports on retention and average length of membership simply at the push of a button. You’ll be able to input a registration list for a program on the computer, and it will automatically enter the event in each registrant’s file and set up a new file for non-member/guests who participate in your programs. You’ll also be able to track member usage throughout the facility with non-intrusive scanning devices that will let you know what each member is doing, and then enter the information automatically into their file. Report writing will be such a breeze, you’ll be able to schedule staff and track salaries being paid by the hour, department, program or position. You’ll create entire schedules and your computer will design a calendar for you, as well as print it for you to copy for your newsletter or give to members.

Imagine a staff that can use a computer terminal to answer every question a member has about a program and then sign them up right there. No more, “I don’t know!” Increased retention will be a matter of managing the information that you are gathering and making adjustments in your programming and staffing.

At least one new software program does all of the above and even allows staff to create programs on the computer. All the forms and procedures needed, along with step-by-step implementation advice and guidance, will make retention tracking and reporting, program planning, scheduling of space and staff, and participant registrations, user-friendly and easy.

A final retention measure

And, finally, to increase retention, it is important that you train your staff to find out why people are leaving. The controllable factors are the ones you can focus on and work on reducing. Steve Shollenberger looks at his exit interviews and codes them by specific reason. One set of reasons — move, death, illness, loss of income, non-payment (uncollectible) — are uncontrollable. A second set of reasons — not using, no time, too expensive — are controllable. When his controllable attrition reaches more than 15 percent of his total exits in any given period, he begins to worry. For example, if he lost 20 members in one month, and more than seven were due to controllable factors, he would have to revisit his retention program. You can track this information by computer and/or manually.

As the fitness industry becomes more entrenched in the preventive medicine arena promoted by the government, corporations and insurance companies, we will see a need for extensive reports on individual members that will be given to doctors, corporations and insurance companies for reimbursement. To stay abreast of the industry, get familiar with your computer software and how it can help you offer these benefits now.

Computers are wonderful for electronic funds transfer, billing and usage information, but with the right reports and/or the right software, they can make a big difference in your retention efforts and, therefore, positively impact your bottom line and productivity.

Tracking retention
on your computer

1. Use attrition formula

2. Track length/duration of membership

3. Track low/non-usage

4. Track program/event

5. Conduct and track exit

Obtaining cheap calling cards online can save you much capital in the long-term run, chiefly on abroad phone calls to friends, colleagues or family.

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