How refurbishments can help improve customer retention
Interior design and maintenance is as important for gyms and fitness centres as it is for any other type of hospitality venue – particularly for the larger higher end chains which are now having to fight off competition from low-cost budget gyms.
More choice in the market is forcing the larger multinational chains to find unique selling points to extend their customer experience; customers who expect quality interior design and first-class maintenance to stay loyal. Brand image maintenance is vital.
Current sector outlook
Low-cost gyms currently dominate the health and fitness sector. Brands such as Pure Gym and The Gym Group account for 35% of all memberships in the UK. With floor space packed with equipment – but limited staff interaction, automatic entry and exit systems – lower overheads enable these gyms to slash prices. Lower-budget gyms are removing so-called ‘unnecessary’ facilities such as cafes, reception areas and lounges, to pack out venues with more equipment and ultimately reduce membership fees.
Mid-market gyms are also under threat with chains such as Pure Gym offering flexible memberships and discounted monthly fees.
To compete with this, it is essential for mid-market gyms and premium health club owners to invest in the upkeep of their facilities to justify the escalating fees their customers must pay.
Up-market chains such as David Lloyd and Virgin Active are re-investing in their venues, rebranding and refurbishing their network of clubs. David Lloyd has recently invested £50 million into the group to increase its memberships. Their premium health club The Academy in Harrogate, has received a £3 million investment for the refurbishment, which includes a ‘DLKids club’ room, a new café bar, an adults-only lounge and a business hub.
Bar areas, smart changing rooms and spa facilities are unique selling points that could tempt customers to stay – a comfy armchair after a HIIT class or a smart café area to meet friends is what these customers are after.
Why invest in maintenance or a refurbishment?
What we’re saying is: invest in your fitness centre’s maintenance to stay ahead and beat off competition, regardless of which element of the market you operate in.
So look ahead to after January’s inevitable rush and the annual bonanza of gym memberships. After all, health resolutions are the most common New Year’s resolutions. In YouGov’s poll last January, 48% of those asked were setting weight loss goals and 41% wanted to do more exercise.
We all know that the fitness sector is worth the investment. 2017 was set to see a £3.1bn growth in the health and fitness sector, rising to £3.9bn by 2022. In May 2017, the amount of UK gym memberships had grown by more than 5% year-on-year to 9.7 million. There were 6,728 gyms, to which one in seven of us belonged.
That’s why it pays to invest in your maintenance if you’re a gym owner. With stiffer competition, there are now more reasons than ever for gym-goers to choose a cheaper option and 2018 will undoubtedly see even more budget gyms hitting the market.
Make your customers feel looked after and they will be more inclined to keep their membership for another year. Member retention throughout the year can also be a challenge. Despite growing numbers, gym owners must work to provide a service that their members want and can’t get from exercising alone or going elsewhere. For higher-end gyms, invest in your ‘luxury’ facilities and deliver the features that health club users believe are necessary for their custom and loyalty.
Invest in a smart maintenance plan for your fitness centre
Retain customers by implementing a maintenance strategy after the January rush that will welcome your customers for the rest of the year. Wear and tear is inevitable in any venue and gym owners who put a maintenance plan in place, are one step ahead.
It doesn’t have to be a full refurbishment, but a refreshed look can be achieved with the smallest of details. As maintenance and fit-out experts, we know how important it is to keep on the top of upholstery in gyms and spas. Following the New Year rush and the inevitable increase in customers who will come through the door, it’s essential to consider how you will keep your brand image looking good and thus retain brand loyalty.
This blog was written by Annika Hobbs, Director at Fresssh Image.
Image of David Lloyd’s Portsmouth Port Solent gym courtesy of David Lloyd.