You’ve been told for years to examine when your members drop-out of your continuity program. Then, right before the month with the highest member drop-out rate, give them a gift, such as food, to encourage them to retain their membership. The thinking is that this gift will create goodwill and trigger the Law of Reciprocity so the member sticks with you. Then, I suppose you’ve “gotten them over the hump” the member will stay with you forever.
Turns out the box of cookies doesn’t work. Neither does more stuff.
What I’ve found over and over again is that poor retention at any phase of the membership cycle starts when you welcome your new member. Before I reveal what we did, allow my client, Richard Menneg describe the transformation his company experienced when he implemented a new member welcome system in addition to the other changes we implemented:
“Working with Robert Skrob and implementing his strategies we’ve increased the size of our alumni program 156% generating an additional $1.4 million annually. Plus, our average lifetime customer value increased by 37%! Robert is my go to expert for forging a stronger relationship with our customers to provide them with greater value so they become more valuable, long-term customers.”
Richard Menneg, President
Automotive Training Institute
The Automotive Training Institute provides coaching services to auto repair shops throughout the United States. While they experienced success with new auto repair shops sign-up for their $45,000.00, 30-month coaching program, they were frustrated with how many of their coaching members wouldn’t follow the coaching that was provided, didn’t engage in the training they purchased and dropped out of the program.
I hear from clients a lot about this. Customers invest in the program, don’t do anything and then complain that the program doesn’t work. Obviously, they didn’t work the program but the problem is deeper than that.
I often find the culprit in the member welcome. We have to show new members how to engage.
This, by the way, is the fatal flaw of most membership sites. Site providers create these huge sites that can solve any problem their customers have. A new user joins, gets a user id and may be genuinely impressed with the content available. However, they never engage. Sure, some download a whole bunch but few really dig in. Thus, retention suffers.
Imagine for a moment, walking on a college campus. Rather than setting-up a class schedule, what if the administrators allowed freshman to wonder from classroom to classroom. Even if they tried to engage, they’d sit in one classroom to listen for a while and then move on. Sure, they’d have class titles to guide them which class to chose but without a context for what those titles mean. This doesn’t work.
In college, administrators create curriculums. They outline a sequence of classes. Then, they tell students, if you want to accomplish this, take such and such sequence of classes. Each class builds on the other, there’s measurable progress and milestones and the graduation rate is a lot higher than it would be if you let little Johnny roam the campus to build his own curriculum on the fly.
How is your continuity program set-up? Do you have established curriculums based on the problem your member is trying to solve or what your member is trying to achieve? Or, do you force your members to roam around the site on their own trying to figure out what’s relevant for them?
One of the keys to a growing continuity program is the new member welcome package. My daughter is a freshman at Florida State University and there was a 2-day orientation session that included a sleepover in a college dorm. FSU understands for their students to be successful, setting expectations, creating a plan and integrating them to a community is crucial.
In our world people say, all you have to do is set-up a continuity program, send them stuff every month and you get to charge their credit card. Little is taught or discussed about keeping your members beyond sending a box of cookies a month before drop-outs spike. It’s not your fault if you’ve been struggling to grow your continuity program as members drop out and it seems like you aren’t getting anywhere. The good news is there is an answer.
When I started working with Automotive Training Institute (ATI) their member welcome consisted of a blue two-pocket folder with materials stuffed inside, a DVD in a gem case and a few handouts for the seminar on the DVD that had been photocopied so many times the pages were crooked and hard to make out the words.
After a bit of digging through their numbers we determined that clients who attended the first 3-day training seminar that was part of the program got better results in their repair shops and stayed far longer in the coaching program. I focused ATI’s new member package on getting each new member engaged into their first training.
Through the package, all roads led to “attend your first training.” The package included a poster that gave members a visual representation of ATI’s coaching curriculum. However, too many times someone can become overwhelmed if they feel like it’ll be a lot of work. This package explained the step-by-step nature of the program, the on-going coaching offered and kept the new member focused on the dream of creating a highly profitable auto repair shop.
One of the aspects I’m most proud of is the booklet that explains the program. This booklet outlines the program curriculum and reinforces the dream of owning a highly profitable auto repair shop that’s managed by a team of dedicated employees that many of ATI’s clients create within the program. In addition, this booklet outlines what new members can expect from ATI in the form of coaching, training and support. I also included a page dedicated to what ATI expects from the client. I purposely made ATI’s list look a lot longer than the client’s list. However, it teaches the client early on what they need to do to create a super successful auto repair shop. This starts the relationship out with clear expectations and reinforces the excitement the member felt when he purchased the program.
How are you welcoming your new members? The success of your continuity program depends on how well you establish expectations, provide them with a plan and integrate them into your community. The good news is it’s easy and you’ll soon experience a tremendous transformation the success of your continuity programs.
I’m sharing the same member retention secrets I’ve been implementing with my private clients over the last 6-months to tremendous results. It’s a brief document titled, Member Retention: Why most membership programs fail and how to boost your member retention from weeks to years.
If you’d like to keep more of the members that you are losing each month but don’t know where to start, this can give you several quick-wins that’ll immediately improve retention. Just follow the steps I outlined and you’ll be light-years ahead of anyone else.
If you’ve been working on retention for years and you think you have it down pretty well, this will give you a scoreboard to judge your program’s performance as well as a few ideas you may have not yet thought of that can help you retain more of the members you recruit.
Member Retention is free. Just click the link below: