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To increase your retention levels you must get to know your clients, what makes them happy, and what motivates them. These simple strategies will help you do just that, says Larry Cohen.

It has been said most people only stay with their personal trainer for six weeks, and that 90 per cent of people who join fitness facilities will stop attending within the first three months1. Pretty disheartening statistics. Without great retention, you will be stuck in the churn cycle, always recruiting and never establishing a steady base of clients or members.

It doesn’t have to be this way. At Step into Life, we have maintained a member retention rate of 90 per cent, with an average member lifespan of more than 18 months. Some people have even been training with us for 12 years.

So how do we do it? The simple answer is, we understand our members and have a system that grows and nurtures our member retention. At the core of this is the belief that, in business, the customer is king or queen. You’ve got to know your clients: what drives them to make a buying decision, what makes them happy, and what motivates them.

Did you know that it takes seven customer touch points for customers to buy from you and the same applies if you want them to stay with you.

While clients and member recruitment is critical to business health, the importance of simple retention tools such as ‘missing you’ emails and ‘congratulations for achieving your goal’ cards should not be undervalued.

It is said that there is no shortcut to success, but in this case, there may be one. Franchisees that join Step into Life have instant access to profitable models we’ve built over a period of 17 years. Of course you still have to do the work, but it’s much easier when the path’s set for you.

The following are just some of the strategies we employ to keep our customer retention rate up:

1. Group dynamics. While one-on-one personal training can be extremely labour-intensive for personal trainers, our business model has found the balance by providing group training where the trainer does not have to work as strenuously due to group support dynamics. It’s simple maths. Groups keep the costs more affordable. This is something that people can build into their budget month after month, year after year.

2. Fun and variety. It’s not uncommon to see our groups really enjoying themselves while they train. Each session goes beyond just training – it consists of warm-ups and interactive activities. Plus, along with the trainer’s expertise, members also have each other’s support and motivation. Our members look forward to long-lasting friendships which are built during sessions.

We also offer over 400 session plans which are accessible to all franchisees. This is why our members love training with us and, consequently, why our franchisees are able to fast track their business goals.

3. Personal attention. Despite ours being an outdoor group training business, we care about the individual. Our groups are of a size that make them manageable and fun, and personal attention is given at every session. Trainers maintain personal progress diaries to monitor member’s goals and every two months each member is given fitness evaluations with personalised reports.

4. Nutrition partner. It’s no news that the right diet and nutrition will fast-track health and fitness goals, and that’s why we have partnered with Metabolic Jumpstart. Designed by Matt O’Neil, the Metabolic Jumpstart Nutritional Package helps members achieve real, tangible results and keeps them motivated for the next session.

5. Training Club. Based on the total amount of time a member has personally invested in their training, points are awarded. Trainers allocate and keep a record of every member’s points through their tracking software, sharing progress with individual members every two weeks via a report.

On the report members see a barometer representing the levels of Training Club achievement and they are acknowledged in front of the rest of the group each time they reach a new level. The member then gets to ‘show off’ their level by wearing a shirt that has a colour code for the number of points.  Congratulating people in front of the group is a very powerful retention technique.

6. Goal-oriented packages. Setting goals with members is an ongoing project. They need new goals to keep them focused and achieving new levels in their fitness. Our achievit™ fun run package program is vital to member retention (especially in the winter) and we have others throughout the year to keep members engaged.

Franchisees with Step into Life have a proven business model that incorporates all of the above, and more, to ensure industry-beating retention rates. Whether you have an outdoor training business, a personal training studio or a sole trader, you can apply some or all of these techniques to increase client and member loyalty.

To find out more about franchise opportunities with Step into Life call 1300 134 136 or email to book into an upcoming franchise tour. All registrations will receive a copy of the Keys to building a fitness business eBook.

Larry Cohen
Founder of Step into Life group outdoor personal training, Larry is responsible for growing the brand to now being recognised as one of Australia’s Top 25 Franchises. A former tennis professional and exercise science graduate with over 25 years’ fitness industry experience, he is a highly sought after fitness business pioneer responsible for designing leading fitness business systems. Step into Life is now an international brand with franchises in Australia and New Zealand.

1.  Time Management Facts and Figures, Dr Donald E Wetmore.


Join Larry at FILEX 2013 where he will be presenting:

  • The targeted approach to successful business growth ● C1B

For more information on Larry’s session check out the fully interactive site at where you can also register for the convention or the all-inclusive Business Gold Pass package that includes access to the Business Summit and the Business Breakfast events.

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