A Client Saved Is A Client Earned – The Misunderstood Retention Trio

by | Aug 24, 2021 | Client Care, Marketing, marketing message, Retention | 1 comment

(Last Updated On: February 9, 2022)

“A client saved is a client earned” – Benjamin Franklin (kind of)


A Client Saved Is A Client Earned – The Misunderstood Retention Trio

Let’s start here, because if you only get one thing from this blog, I want it to be this:

According to Forbes.com, it can cost 5x more to acquire a new client than to keep an existing one.


That is a bold statement!

5 times! That’s a lot of money, right?

It’s the kind of statistic that’s so powerful I think we may have a tendency to roll our eyes a little every time we hear it, but clear your mind and think about it for a moment. One thing should now be blindingly obvious:

The most important thing you will EVER have as a business owner are YOUR CLIENTS!

So, if it’s so obvious, why do gym owners put so much time and energy into doing everything it takes to grow their business but forget to spread some of that love to the clients they have!

The ones that are already members.

The ones that pay every month.

The ones that can refer new clients.

The ones that form your community. 

We’re crazy about our clients’ business’s retention at Fitness Revolution and if their retention rate dips below 97% we look something like this.


A Client Saved Is A Client Earned – The Misunderstood Retention Trio

Hold on…what’s that number again?


Let me be clear about this: 97% isn’t awful.  It’s just not good. (Not sure what’s good?  See: What Should a Gym’s Retention % Be? post)

I know there aren’t too many things in life that aren’t awesome at 97%, but let’s do a little math.


Starting with 100 clients:

With a 96% retention rate in 12 months, you’d lose 37 clients.

That’s more than ? of your clients!

That’s more than ? of your revenue!

That’s you up all night wondering what happened to your business and not knowing if you can cover payroll or rent. 

That’s you not being able to build a sustainable business or the community you dreamt of.

That’s you living in survival mode and, trust me, you can’t do that forever. 

Let’s do a little more math (don’t worry, we’re almost done) and figure out the difference with just a 1% improvement.

So…the difference between 96 and 97%? 9 clients. 

98%? That’s another 9. So, a tiny 2% improvement turns out to be pretty big. 

Is 9 a lot of clients for you?  How big would it be to have 9 more new ones this month?  

Listen, if those numbers don’t open up your eyes to the importance of retention… Well, I’ll just say this and move on:

Unless you want to run a hamster-wheel of a business, always desperately trying to find ways to bring in people as fast as you’re losing them, you’ve got to look at your retention as one of the most important things in your business.


Right now is not a good time to be losing clients unnecessarily. 

Recently we’ve been seeing 3 common underlying issues behind most retention problems.  I’m going to take you through each of them, give you some examples, and show you how to think about them so you can figure out where your problem is and fix it. 

One quick side note here. If you’re not getting results for your clients, none of this matters.


1. Misaligned Messaging


What is it?

Misaligned messaging can affect your business in any number of ways, but here we’ll just focus on how it affects retention. 

Misaligned messaging is when your marketing isn’t effectively targeting your Ideal Client or isn’t clear about what your gym really does.


What does that mean?

A common example of that would be having pictures on your website showing 20-somethings back-squatting 275 lbs. even though you’re targeting mothers in their early 50s who haven’t exercised regularly in years. 

When this kind of misaligned messaging occurs, if you do happen to close the sale, the 20-somethings that respond to the pictures don’t stay around for a program not aimed at them, and the moms in their early 50s never call you to begin with. 

This means your retention problems start before a prospect even contacts you!

A couple of examples of misaligned messaging would be:

  • Marketing in places your ideal client isn’t looking. (The 50-year old mom isn’t watching your Tik-Toks.)
  • Marketing things your ideal client doesn’t care about. (The 50-year old mom doesn’t care how much she can bench.)
  • Not using language that your Ideal Client can relate to. (Boomers aren’t interested in social media shorthand.  And nothing says Boomer like proper punctuation.)


How do you know if this is you?
  1. You’re regularly getting leads from people you know don’t fit your gym.
  2. You’re having to cover way too much about the nuts and bolts of your program in your sales conversations.

What’s the solution?

Know who you’re talking to. I know you’ve heard this before, but you’ve got to know your prospect inside and out. You have to know:

  • What they want
  • Why they want it
  • What’s getting in their way

And then you have to tell them how you can help them get it.

Everything has got to align for your marketing to work:

  • Who you’re talking to.
  • What their problem is.
  • How you can help them solve it.

When it all comes together, the people that are looking for what you offer start showing up… people that wouldn’t have even seen your message before… 

Instead of people joining then realizing you’re not what they’re looking for, they’ll know just what you do and say, “That’s exactly what I need!”

It turns out these people are the ones you WANT in your gym. The ones you hoped you’d work with when your business was still a dream…

The ones that stick around. The ones that become ambassadors.  The ones you build around, count on and invite you to their Christmas parties.

Your external marketing (marketing to people who aren’t clients) is the first step in giving you great retention.

Don’t get too ahead of yourself, though because this is when a lot of gym owners start making mistakes…


2. Lack of Client Care


What is it?

Lack of client care means you’re lacking an organized series of things you do for your clients to enhance their experience at your gym. 


What does that mean?

This is what is referred to as internal marketing. In this case, you’re not trying to attract a new client, you are investing in retaining existing clients.  Even BEFORE you think they’re going to cancel.  (If you forgot the value of doing this, please go back to the beginning of this post.)

Like anything when it comes to marketing, the key to putting together a Client Care System is to make sure it’s sustainable for you and your staff.


How do you know if this is you?

This one is easy. If you don’t have a documented systemized Client Care System.


What’s the solution?

Here’s a quick example of how an individual Client Care System can look starting from the day a client joins.

  • Day 1 – A new client folder with an article called, “How our best clients get results” and another called “What to expect at your first session”
  • Day 4 – An email asking them what you can do to make the most of their experience.
  • Day 7 – A “Thank You for Joining” card in the mail signed by each staff member
  • Day 28 – An email linking to a “New Client Survey”
  • Quarterly – A hand signed and written postcard from a staff member (different staff member each quarter)
  • On their birthday – A birthday card signed by each staff member
  • On their Anniversary date – A One Year Anniversary T-shirt


Many gyms also hold off-site events, holiday parties, seminars and workshops. There are many ways to take care of the clients that are taking care of you.  The important thing is to do it with your clients interests in mind.  The goal is to make them ‘feel felt’.  


3. Your beliefs


What is it?

This is the belief that all you have to do to keep your current clients is give them good service. That sounds simple enough and it’s not like it’s wrong…it’s just…incomplete. 

Marketing doesn’t stop when people become clients. It just changes.


What does that mean?

There’s lots of places your clients can exercise. There’s probably one within 10-minutes of where you are right now. I’ll bet it’s cheaper, too. 

So why would someone spend more money to come to you? Well, if you want them to stick around, and pay more for the privilege, you’d better be able to answer this question, because your clients are asking it every month.


Here it is:

When a client joins your gym they are after an experience. 

What does that mean?

Follow me to Henny’s Burgers. Get yourself a burger with mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and some fries. It’s pretty good. The waiter is fine, but he just kind of gives you your food and moves along. 

Now let’s head to Franklin’s Burgers. Get the same thing. Pretty good. Same quality as Henny’s…But the waiter is amazing. He asks you questions about how crispy you like your fries. He asks your name and remembers you the next time you come in. He hands you a “Franklin’s Friends Frequent Feeder Club” card and tells you that for every 10 burgers you eat you get one free. Then he punches the card TWICE and whispers for you not to tell anyone. 

Which one of these is your go-to place now? Even when a new spot opens up around the corner (and there’s always a new burger place popping up. Kind of like gyms.)

Franklin’s gave you an EXPERIENCE! They know you.

They know how you like your fries.

The waiter gave you credit for an extra burger! Does he do that for everyone? Probably. Do you care? No! 

Two restaurants with the exact same food and you know you’ll be heading to Franklin’s over Henny’s EVERY SINGLE TIME!


How do you know if this is you?

If you regularly find that people you were pretty sure weren’t going anywhere, leave your program, to…”try something else”.


What’s the solution?

Put Yourself In Their Shoes.

I hope this clears up what, for some gym owners, can be a pretty confusing and misunderstood topic. I know there’s a lot here, but one thing that can be a huge help is actually sitting down with your clients either one-on-one or in a group and talking about what they like about your gym, and even more importantly, what they don’t like. 

Put yourself in their shoes – if a business owner asked you to lunch or coffee just to talk about how to make your time and experience better, how would that make you feel? Pretty special, right? If so, then that business owner has the right idea.  They’ve shown you that they know you and you mean something to them. 

You shouldn’t feel out of place asking them something like this.  After all, you really should be ‘hearing’ them all of the time, not just when you have an agenda.  But if you aren’t sure how to ask, keep it simple.  No need to overdo it.  Just ask them what they like about your gym and  listen to what they say. Then ask what they don’t like and listen to what they say.  

And when they’re done talking…try to listen some more. You aren’t there to change their mind, you’re there to understand.  


Justin Hanover
Success Coach, Fitness Revolution

A Client Saved Is A Client Earned – The Misunderstood Retention Trio






A Client Saved Is A Client Earned – The Misunderstood Retention Trio You can get a more thorough look at your business and the challenges you’re facing by taking our 10 question Fitness Business Needs Assessment.   It’s free and you’ll receive an individualized report with feedback on where you’re at, what you should be focused on, and what you need to prepare for in the future.   I don’t know any business owner who doesn’t benefit from that information.

Learn how to increase your take-home pay by 2k+ per month and free up 4-6 hours a week.

Without getting MORE clients, opening a 2nd location, or hiring more staff.

The 3 Levers to Fitness Business Freedom


Don't worry we keep your information private. Unsubscribe at any time.