Even clubs reopened for 4+ months are looking at 5 -15% of their members still with frozen memberships. I’ve heard from health clubs who are discouraged by these numbers, but they are actually signs of the strength of your brand loyalty and the success of your efforts to deflect cancellations.

It’s important to view your frozen members as a valuable asset. Not like a CD with the value inaccessible and forgotten about until some later date, but more like a valuable crop to be tended and nurtured until harvest time. Some clubs are even finding ways to “harvest some early fruit” from their frozen members using these steps:

  • Sort/Segment frozen members by overall lifetime value and/or potential value
  • Have your senior managers call frozen members directly (highest success rates have come from direct contact from club leadership), prioritized by value
  • On the call, determine which “freeze camp” the members are in and offer corresponding solutions you have available (frozen members generally fall into one of three below “camps”)


COVID-19 Caution

Most of the frozen members in this camp are going to wait for a vaccine/cure or a dramatic drop in infections, but there will be a segment who are merely in a state of uncertainty-induced inertia. They may have not read your emails or social media posts about all the safety and sanitation protocols you’ve employed, and the credibility of a personal call from a senior manager going into great detail about those measures has been an effective tool for many clubs in inspiring re-engagement. Offering a “re-tour” of the facility, either in-person or virtually (FaceTime walkthrough, etc) is another effective way to demonstrate the safety of your club.

For those who remain hesitant or unwilling, you can shift the conversation to any alternative or adapted paid services you have developed, such as:

  • Virtual personal training (some clubs offering this are seeing it account for as much as 30% of their post-reopening PT revenue)
  • Outdoor training options
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Supplements (delivery or curbside pickup)
  • Scheduled workout times and/or spaces with enhanced social distancing

With many schools now reopening virtually or with severe restrictions, another potential PR and revenue-generating opportunity is sponsoring student athletes who have lost access to school gyms with memberships. You can provide a number of sponsored memberships, and invite/challenge your members to sponsor other student athletes with, for example, 6-month paid-in-full memberships. This is something even frozen members can participate in. Just because they’re not ready to return personally doesn’t mean they’re not willing to sponsor someone who is.

Financial Hardship

While you won’t be convincing members of this camp to reactivate their memberships before their personal circumstances improve, if you’ve prioritized your contact list by member value, you can make strategic offers to select members which are likely to pay off in the future.

For example, if your facility capacity isn’t maxed or you have underutilized time slots, consider offering 1-3 months of waived membership fees to high value frozen members. You want these members to return when their circumstances improve, but the longer they are frozen the more likely they are to fall out of the fitness habit, move on to other fitness opportunities, or lose affinity for your brand in favor of the competition. Considering the high cost of acquiring a new member, this cost to retain and increase the loyalty of a high value member can be well worth it.

Amenities Loss

For some members, the loss of amenities such as showers, saunas, hot tubs, etc. due to restrictions has tipped the perceived value of membership to “not worth it.” Many clubs are seeing a definite impact on members who lost use of more gender-influenced amenities such as women’s only areas and kid care services. Some clubs have seen success offering temporarily reduced or prorated membership dues until those amenities become available again. At the least, be sure to keep frozen members informed whenever you are permitted to reopen additional amenities, and always emphasize any new safety/sanitation measures.

For the frozen members who aren’t part of your high value member outreach, be sure to frequently remind them they are valued and not forgotten. Acknowledge the challenges of staying fit at home with targeted content that proved effective during closures, such as home workout and nutrition tips, access to any free virtual training, etc.

Whether you are successful in harvesting some early fruit, or just able to maintain and nurture your membership crop, your efforts with frozen members will yield welcome returns when the days of normalcy we’re all hoping for arrive.

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