Leadership members of the Martin Pear JCC share their best practices for member retention as 2022 approaches.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, community recreation centers were already viewed as a hub to connect safely with other community members. But during and after, these centers became much more than that — they became sources of vital services for communities and still are today. One example of such a center is the Martin Pear JCC in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“The Martin Pear JCC was able to quickly mobilize and create Club J All Day while local schools transitioned to virtual learning in 2020,” said Jay Jacobs, the CEO of the Martin Pear JCC. “Now, coming out of the pandemic, we continue to be their trusted gathering place.”
Below, Jacobs and Christine Hutchinson, the COO for Martin Pear JCC, share how the J will continue to look for ways to build upon existing retention strategies in terms of additional appreciation events, ongoing communication and showing they will pivot at a moment’s notice to meet member and community needs.
When planning for the start of 2022, what do you predict will be the keys to retaining your current members?
Jacobs: The Martin Pear JCC prides itself on exceeding member expectations with every interaction, whether in-person, on the phone or online. Our staff undergo continuous customer service training throughout the year to ensure we are delivering first-class service — that’s what our Blue Shirt Experience is all about — and we feel our level of service is one of our core differentiators.
We also thrive on providing comprehensive, high-quality programming and events to our community. This is a focus for us, especially coming out of COVID-19 and knowing our members are seeking community and connection now more than ever. We meet members where they are most comfortable — in-building or virtual — and maintain an increased cadence of communication, again ensuring members are aware of what is happening in the facility and how we are keeping members, as well as staff, safe.
Hutchinson: Member appreciation events are also a key to our continued retention plans. We are known throughout the community for our six summer pool parties each Sunday, and all hit registration caps within a couple of days. Our membership team also holds surprise pop-ups for our members where we provide complimentary snow cones, pressed juices and more. These events are another way we can show our appreciation by surprising and delighting.
In 2019, the Martin Pear JCC kicked off our “More J on the Way” Capital Campaign. With this multi-year campaign, we have already renovated the locker rooms and soon we will be constructing family changing rooms, a black box theater and much more. These facility updates show members we are investing in our future and ensuring we continue to provide a place to house comprehensive, high-quality programming and events.
What is your advice for ensuring members are being offered what they want and need to stay a member?
Jacobs: Member feedback is extremely important for our facility to ensure we are staying on trend and offering programs and services they find valuable. Formal member surveys as well as informal member interactions with staff are continuous. When we do receive feedback and make enhancements to our offerings, we communicate with members their feedback was heard, and we outline the tangible ways we are improving. This not only shows we are listening to the feedback, but we are acting on things we can change.
Some of the changes we implemented during COVID-19 — such as requiring reservations for swim lanes — were positively received and had us thinking we should have been doing this all along so there is no wait time for members. Because this yielded a better member experience, we are maintaining the swim lane reservation process coming out of the pandemic.
The Martin Pear JCC continues to offer our virtual J at Home platform, as well as in-person classes. We also offer classes that appeal to all demographics at convenient times, and the most popular classes are offered more frequently to ensure members have multiple opportunities to attend their favorite classes.
Hutchinson: Offering a unique and personal interaction between members and staff creates the sense of community. We continue to level up in creating a great fitness floor experience, which we feel separates us from the competition.
As already mentioned, member appreciation is a constant theme within the JCC. We offer events that allow members to connect with each other and staff. We also reward member loyalty with a refer-a-friend campaign. For each referral who commits to a 12-month membership, the member will get a free month of membership. This not only rewards the members, but it ensures we continue to bring new people into our community to further strengthen our fabric of connection.
Lastly, we know we will be most successful in continuing to further our mission of building connections that foster mental, physical and spiritual growth when we get our members back into the facility. We do this by ensuring members feel safe and welcomed, and find value in the programs and services we offer.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about many lessons learned, especially when it comes to member retention. Jay Jacobs shared the three most important lessons he learned along the way. “Do things the right way and always err on the side of caution,” he said. “When you couple that with continued communication and transparency, our member base knew where the facility stood as we navigated facility closures, reopening and multiple modifications, as well as safety protocols related to COVID-19.”
Jacobs shared another reaffirming lesson learned was the power, and simplicity, in saying thank you. “We never take for granted the choices our members have for their mental, physical and spiritual growth,” he said. “We are proud to say we are our members’ home away from home. Saying ‘thank you for being part of our J family’ goes a long way.”
*Photo courtesy of Brandon Sullivan.