Let's face it, health club members are going to quit. Many of them. By some accounts, most of them. We do our best to stop it, or at least control it, but once someone has made up her mind to quit, there is very little we can do as club managers to reel her back in.
Some industry data says that at least 30 percent of health club cancellations are out of our hands due to jobs, relocations and other life events. Other cancellations will reference finances, while still others will use the "no time" argument. And some people are just looking for a reason to cancel:
"I didn't get a free locker."We heard this one a few years ago, when we were about to open a new locker room. Rob thought he said the following to a long-time member who paid annually for a locker rental: "Don't bother renewing your old locker now." The member heard: "Don't worry about ever paying for your locker. You can have one for free."
He was therefore horrified when he was approached to pay for his dedicated locker in the new locker room and, instead, he canceled. When the confusion was sorted out, everyone agreed it was an honest mistake. So, would the member put aside his cancelation request and continue his membership? No, he was still insulted that we wouldn't give him his locker.
"I don't like the U-turn."Our main facility is on a split highway, and several years ago the access to our driveway was changed. Rather than making a dangerous left turn across two lanes of oncoming traffic, a U-turn was required that added maybe 60 seconds to the time it took to get here. We wrote letters to the Department of Transportation and posted them for everyone to see. We called our township and state representatives and expressed our members' concerns, all to no avail. We lost several members because of this, one of whom had been a member for 10 years and whose travel time was now seven minutes instead of six.
"I don't want to share."We ask our members to limit their time on any piece of cardio equipment to 30 minutes. We recently had a woman quit because of that limit. Did it impact her workouts? Nope. Was she being inconvenienced by people trying to move from treadmill to treadmill to get around the time limit? Nope. Was it impacting her in any way? Nope. She just didn't like it.
"You didn't get angry enough."Several years ago, health clubs and malls in our area were hit by a rash of car break-ins. One of our members, who had left her purse on her front seat, was one of the victims. We of course called the police and cooperated with the investigation. We also offered what we thought was the appropriate sympathy and assistance to the member, but she quit shortly thereafter. Did she feel unsafe in our parking lot? No. Was she worried it might happen again? No. She was upset that our staff person at the front desk wasn't angry enough on her behalf.
Certainly, there was something "real" in each of these stories that set the members' minds to leaving. A perceived insult. Inconvenience. Limited time on equipment. Not chasing the car thief like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. In each case, we just sort of did the best we could, but sometimes that's not good enough. Sometimes, they're just gonna quit.