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New Member Onboarding for 2023

Member Onboarding for 2023

The dos and don’ts of new member onboarding for 2023.

With the start of each new year, many motivated individuals will rush to community centers and gyms with the hopes of being able to accomplish their long-awaited fitness goals they have been putting off over the past year.

A study from IHRSA found more than 12% of gym members join in January over any other month in the year. Many facilities may offer an introductory program to help new members get better acquainted to the equipment in the facility. But is that truly enough in 2023?

Here are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to new member onboarding:

Do schedule it on the same day the member joins.

The best chance to ensure your new member takes advantage of your onboarding program is to ensure they schedule it at the point of sale. It becomes much more difficult to have them take advantage of this at a later time. Front desk staff should be trained to always finish the sale by booking the appointment.

Don’t fit too much into one appointment.

Onboarding programs fail because fitness staff try to pack as much as they can within that first appointment. For new members to not feel discouraged, it is important they can retain the most relevant information they will need to know for their first 30 days. Always make sure the first appointment is simple and easy to follow.

Do measure the success of the program.

Tracking how many individuals go through an onboarding program and correlating that data to member retention over the span of 90 days can help determine if the program is successful or not. Setting internal short-term and long-term goals with your team will help ensure the relevancy of the program.

Don’t fixate about how many appointments the member attends.

Having a new member attend three appointments over a span of 60 days seems to be the holy grail of many operators in the fitness industry. While multiple appointments will help the member become better acquainted with the offerings and likely extend the lifetime of the membership, fewer appointments do not mean instant terminations. Ensuring each new member who joins has a quality introductory appointment should be prioritized over having a handful of members attending diluted orientations.

Do include scalable programming.

An onboarding program should be more than showing the new member how to use the equipment. Onboarding programs should be tailored to the needs and wants of the individual. It should include offerings such as group exercise classes suited to their goals, virtual offerings they can do from home and paid training programming they can join after the end of the onboarding program.

Don’t let it be confused for personal training.

It’s easy for the sales and front desk staff to want to compare an onboarding program to personal training due to the perceived similarities of working one-on-one with members. Training your team to be able to differentiate between the two will help alleviate confusion for members and help promote your training programs as sequential offerings for them to take advantage of.

Santiago Prada

Santiago Prada is the senior executive of membership and wellness for the YMCA of the Virginia Peninsulas. He has worked in the health and fitness industry since 2006 and has worked for various YMCAs and health clubs across the country. He is an ACE certified personal trainer and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications.

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