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Why didn’t you call?

My gym knows that I’m going to cancel my membership — because I haven’t been there in 60 days (I bought a machine for home).

Why haven’t they called?  It always costs more money to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing customer.  If they let me go, they are going to have to do a ton of marketing to replace me, and it’s going to take several months of fees until that new customer pays back his startup costs.

How could they keep me?  Maybe a half-price membership good for three days each week or off-peak only.  Or they can put me on hold, so I can restart anytime without a new imitation fee. Maybe I’m just angry about a little thing, and they could win me back with a quick apology. They’ll never know.

In some businesses, this sort of loyalty marketing doesn’t work. Your PC maker doesn’t know that you’ve gone out and bought another brand.  You car dealer doesn’t know if you’re still driving their car.  They have no ongoing relationship with you.

But the gym, the barbershop, a restaurant, and many other businesses should notice when you don’t come back — and do what it takes to get you back.

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  1. michael cardus April 29, 2009 at 10:10 am #

    I wonder if this will be effective.
    You already bought the equiptment for your house, your mind in made about not returing. Plus gyms lose and regain members all the time.
    The whole business model of gyms is made from people who have memberships and never attend.
    Perhaps the gym should be asking you “why you left?”
    or perhaps focusing on ways to strengthen the connection of the members who already go to the gym.
    Once gym members leave should the gym use energy to chase lost leads?

  2. bobroth April 29, 2009 at 11:41 am #

    While visiting friends in Chicago recently, their gym DID call because they hadn’t been in for 30 days. It was a friendly call, chatty in fact, and they asked if they could bring in a visitor as a guest and we were in the facility the next day.
    Good stuff.

  3. dommartinez April 29, 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    That is a very interesting analogy and a good one to describe the ideologies of many businesses who simply take their customers’ cash and walk away. That Chicago gym has not only created a relationship with these specific people but probably made it a whole lot stronger than it was before all while differentiating itself from its competitors. Definately a good lesson that a lot of businesses/companies should pay heed to; show your customers the extra effort- they’ll appreciate it!

  4. Tim Bursch April 29, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    Seems like some businesses are afraid of rejection on the back end of losing customers. Or maybe not open to feedback or ideas?
    Your thinking could apply to blogging/online stuff too. When readers don’t come back, what will you do to keep them?

  5. Nick S. April 29, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    So simple but when done in a timely fashion, it could be very powerful. The addition of a personal touch is the best part about the phone call. It shows that someone cares enough to call. And if the answer is that you’re not going to come back to the gym, it’s nice to be able to find out why.

  6. David Barnes May 14, 2009 at 6:26 am #

    Agree with the first commenter. Most people who belong to gyms hardly ever go, but don’t get around to cancelling because they can’t admit to themselves that they won’t get back into going as soon as they have the time.
    Also, let us know how you got on trying to cancel. It took me months — and they kept charging the whole time, then insisted on a long notice period.
    Gyms. Scum of the earth.

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