How to Keep Customers Coming Back and Build a Loyal Base

Dec 28, 2023

👀  Expert Reviewer: Niki Riga

✍️ Author: Sinead O'Connor



From one-on-one yoga instruction to high-volume fitness classes, knowing how to keep clients coming back can make all the difference between success and struggle in your business. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all secret to improve customer retention. However, there are customer retention best practices that can easily help you build strong, lasting relationships with your clients and, in turn, sustainably help your business thrive.

In this article, we’ll explore how to retain clients, including the fundamentals of customer retention and client retention strategies you can start implementing today.

Table of Contents:

Why Customer Retention Is Critical in Wellness & Fitness

First, the basics. Like any business, client retention in wellness and fitness is crucial for covering expenses, maintaining operations, and growing your offerings.

But unlike other types of businesses, customer retention here deals with more than just goods and services: your business both develops AND depends on deeper relationships, personal habits, lifestyle decisions, emotional connections, and spiritual guidance.

That means each returning client brings with them both “hard” and “soft” benefits to your business:

  • Recurring Revenue: Customers consistently engaged and signed up for memberships means more predictable cash flow month-to-month.
  • Community: Community bonds and relationships that improve the member experience; this sense of community keeps people engaged and less likely to cancel memberships.
  • Referrals: Happy, loyal members are more likely to refer friends and family; this helps attract new customers through word-of-mouth.
  • Cost Savings: It costs significantly more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one.

Client Retention Starts with Strong Client Relationships

Learn how simple it can be to build meaningful and effective relationships in our webinar with Jules Mitchell.

What Do People Look for in a Class or Studio?

What members are specifically looking for in fitness or wellness classes can vary from person to person. This can include anything from location and class sizes to certain types of equipment, class types, or services – and everything in between.

However, there are a few common characteristics that nearly every client is not only looking for but counting on. These include:

  • Convenience: Creating a convenient way for your members to access your services is one of the most fundamental aspects of member retention. For example, offering in-person and online classes can foster inclusivity and convenience for all your members.
  • Cost: Creating a cost-effective plan for members or offering class packs or memberships can make sure a broader range of clients can — and want to — keep returning for more.
  • Connection: Learning how to create connections with your clients through social media, email, or in person is critically important. A feeling of connection and community is the primary driver in why people regularly return to group classes or the services of a specific instructor.

Customer Retention Metrics

It’s time to crunch some numbers. (Don’t worry! You’ve got this. We’ve made it easy for you!)

Keeping a close eye on customer retention metrics (meaning, rates/values) is critical to understanding your recurring revenue and the effectiveness of your current customer retention strategy. Using one or several measurement metrics allows you to keep a pulse on the satisfaction and loyalty of your customer base and plan your business accordingly.

Tracking retention rates over time lets you monitor the health of your business and quickly identify any declines in client retention that could indicate it’s time to switch up your approach.

Taking a few minutes to analyze retention helps spot opportunities for improvement, track progress against goals you’ve set, and predict potential cash flow.

Below are a few simple formulae to help you get a pulse on your customer retention rates:

Customer Retention Rate

[(total customers in a given period – new customers acquired during that period) / total customers at the start of the period] x 100

Customer Lifetime Value

average order amount x purchases per year x retention rate

Customer Churn Rate

(total lost customers in a given period / total customers at the start of the period) x 100

Repeat Customer Rate

(number of return customers / total number of customers) x 100

How Do You Retain Customers? (And Where You May Be Falling Short)

So now you have a sense of why retention matters and have a handle on a few ways to keep an eye on your retention metrics (look at you mathing away!) – but what actions can you take when your retention levels dip?

Luckily, Just as there are a lot of areas to monitor when it comes to client retention and satisfaction, there are just as many opportunities and tools to engage your clients and sustainably boost your retention rates.

Variety in Offerings

It’s more than the spice of life – variety keeps new students curious and hungry and long-time students interested and engaged. When you offer just a few more class types or services beyond the bare minimum, your clients are much less likely to get bored.

Your clients will appreciate options rather than be limited to only a few offerings. Providing variety and new selections will give your clients a reason to keep coming back to see what’s new. This is also an opportunity to turn client feedback and preferences into action –give the people what they want and reap the rewards:

  • Promotes curiosity and engagement / prevents boredom and burnout
  • Increased opportunity for clients to explore and attend classes
  • More room for individual clients to find their own niches
  • Shows that your business is growing, alive, and responsive

Your Online Store and Listings

Your online store isn’t just for attracting new customers – it’s one of the most overlooked and underutilized retention tools on your workbench. No one wants to shop at a grocery store full of old and expired food; the same is true for your online store. Your online store is a direct extension and reflection of your business. And if your inventory isn’t fresh and diverse, your regular clients will sniff it out first.

Your store is one of the easiest places to keep freshly stocked with new content to help boost client engagement and retention: pre-recorded videos, courses, challenges, workshops, mastermind classes, and much more. But whatever you’re putting in your storefront, be sure to consider these key factors:

  • Discoverability: Are popular items easy to search for? Are new items easy to find?
  • Memorability: Do products inspire curiosity? Are products clearly described and memorable?
  • Ease of purchase: Are prices apparent? Is your cart editable? Is the check-out process simple?
  • Availability: Is availability visible? Are unavailable items clearly marked?

Experience for Existing Clients

Providing an excellent experience – outside the classroom or studio – for existing customers is another key to client retention. When you can make your clients feel valued every time they interact with your business, their loyalty deepens.

Investing time into prioritizing existing customers at every touchpoint will pay off through improved retention rates and word-of-mouth referrals that bring in new customers. Here are a few ways to ensure you are delivering your existing customers a loyalty-boosting experience:

  • Engaging Emails: Update clients on classes, reflections, product offerings, recommendations, and more to give them a feeling of added value
  • Reminders: Show your clients you’re looking to keep their best interests in mind with reminders for classes, registrations, product orders, challenge deadlines, and more
  • Memberships: Make it easy for casual customers to become loyal clients with a range of membership options that meet different budgets and lifestyles
  • On-Demand Content: Meet your clients anytime, anywhere, with digital content that’s easy to fit into their busy schedules

How You Find the Right Kind of New Clients 

Is it better to have a full class of just anyone off the street or a half-full class of students you know will be there every week for the next three months? The answer seems obvious, but taking the proper steps to ensure you’re targeting and attracting the right kind of clients can be a bit tricky if you don’t take the time to understand your client base.

A more targeted approach will take your marketing dollars further to help you secure clients who will return. When you understand your target audience (and how your services overlap), you can anticipate their needs and preferences, tailor your products and services to those preferences, and foster an attractive community where they’ll want to spend time.

Here are some things to consider: 

  • Bargain prices or one-off specials tend to attract customers with short attention spans and an aversion to full-price services; these folks tend to jump to the next studio as soon as a better deal comes along.
  • Tailor your promotions to communicate the value you put on customer loyalty; for example, instead of discounted prices, offer bonus classes or rewards for attendance.
  • Talk to your regulars about what keeps them coming back; ask about what they love and what you could do better – then turn that insight into action (more on that below).

Customer Retention Strategies for Wellness & Fitness

Overwhelmed by the thought of doing customer research? Don’t worry. Your greatest research assistants are right close at hand: your students, your fellow instructors, and your greater wellness community. Talking to the people around you (and in your socials) is a great place to start understanding what gets students to show up – and keeps them coming back.

Track Customer Engagement and Retention

Learning how to track your clients and how they engage with your business can help you deliver an overall better customer experience. It starts by asking some simple questions:

  • Do they interact with your business on one social media platform over the other?
  • Do they prefer in-person or online classes?
  • Do they learn something from the content you post or teach?

These questions can help you understand how your clients like to connect with your gym or fitness studio. For example, if you notice more engagement on your Instagram posts instead of on Twitter or Facebook, it might be worth investing more time and energy into Instagram content. Or, if you hear that your website’s content leaves people with more questions than answers, it could be time to update your information. Keeping track of this information will make engaging with your clients easier.

Gather Feedback from Your Ideal Customers

Getting feedback from your ideal customers – either current or potential – is a wonderful way to improve your retention because it gives you invaluable insights directly from the people you want to serve. Their input helps you refine services to better meet their needs, reveals what’s working best, and also reveals areas for improvement.

Of course, you can fold all these insights into improving your business and delivering the best service possible. But, the act of taking the time to get this input from your clients has retention benefits as well:

  • Engaging customers makes them feel heard and valued.
  • This fosters emotional connections and loyalty, building a stronger community.
  • Clients who see their feedback implemented become more invested in your business.

Incentivize Customer Loyalty

Nothing says “I appreciate you” to your most loyal customers – other than the highest quality programming, of course – than extra perks just for showing up. Loyalty programs that provide rewards, recognition, or incentives for coming back again and again reinforce habits and emotional connections with your business, making your clients less likely to leave or switch to competitors.

At the same time, this allows the business to maximize the value of each client, whose roles can range from simply being regulars in class to being outspoken evangelists for your business. While there are numerous kinds of loyalty programs, here are three of the most common types:

  • VIP Program: Exclusive program offering high-value perks, discounts, and premium service.
  • Loyalty Program: Rewards, points, and benefits are given in exchange for repeated purchases or attendance.
  • Referral Program: Incentives offered to existing customers who refer new clients by word-of-mouth or promotions.

Are You Nurturing Client Loyalty from the Beginning?

Watch our webinar with Michael Jay to tailor your email marketing strategy to retain clients. 

Retain More Clients with OfferingTree’s All-in-One Business Software

Now that we’ve covered a few membership recruitment and retention strategies you can employ to keep your members happy and loyal, it’s time to take your customer retention strategy to the next level. OfferingTree’s services can help you track overall membership engagement, increase member retention, and cover any other business questions you may have to retain members.

Our “business in a box” strategy can help you create the perfect business management website and engage with your target audience thoughtfully and authentically. Get in touch with us today if you have any questions or sign up for a free trial to get started right away!

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