Despite this, many Clubs make the mistake of spending more time, effort and money chasing new members than retaining and developing their existing members.
A challenge for member retention is that members will be aware of service failure and their dissatisfaction, not of their satisfaction with what you offer. Therefore its easy to lose them to other sports or leisure activities.
The key to retaining your members is to:
- Know what they want and value and ensure you deliver it
- Anticipate your members’ future needs and understand the trends that might impact their future involvement in you Club
- Build enduring member relationships based on member satisfaction and service quality
Delivering a great program, event or other activity based on what members want and need will assist with member retention and acquisition. It will enable you to manage member expectations about your Club’s performance, and to build member satisfaction, loyalty and value.
We know that people are increasingly time poor. So running a competition over a long season or playing traditional 7 innings games may not suit many members. Think about introducing a different type of competition or version of Softball for your time-poor members.
Regular research can help you anticipate the needs of your members and adapt to their requirements. Importantly, it can help determine and track member satisfaction, which is key to determining whether a member is likely to stay or leave your Club. Member satisfaction research should be undertaken regularly to identify and track changes over time.
This research need not be complicated, but it should be regular so you can pick up trends and issues early and respond quickly. The importance of your response cannot be over-emphasised. Asking your members what they think, want or value and then ignoring their feedback or being slow to act will only increase their dissatisfaction.
The following questions are examples of what you should ask your members at the end of each program, competition or season.
- Why did you join this Club?
- What do you like about this Club?
- What don’t you like about this Club?
- What could we do better?
- What are your favourite events or activities? Why?
- What events or activities don’t you enjoy or participate in? Why?
- What changes could we make to this event/program/activity to make it better?
- How would you rate your level of satisfaction with this Club/competition/program on a scale of 1 – 5?
If a member leaves your Club you should conduct an "exit" survey to find out why. It might be because they are dissatisfied with what the Club has to offer or it might be that their circumstances have changed. Whatever the reason, you need to know so you can determine if it's possible to get them back and to reduce the likelihood of other people leaving for the same reason.
Ask questions such as:
- Why have you left or not renewed your membership?
- Would you consider rejoining? If so, when?
- If you are not considering rejoining, what could we do to get you to change your mind?
You should also develop a profile of your members based on a few key characteristics such as age and gender, and match this against your activities and programs so you know what appeals to which member segment.
- It could be that you are offering great programs for children but very little that appeals to older membersor people that are time poor
- Perhaps your competition schedule suits older players but not school students
Once you have a sense of what your members want or don’t want, value or don’t value, you must act to give them what they want and value. Members will become dissatisfied if you ignore their feedback.
As a result of your member research you might decide to:
- Look at more effective ways to communicate with your members so they know what is available to them
- Introduce new versions of Softball that are likely to appeal to different member segments
- Change your competition fixture so it suits people who are time poor or who want to play at a different time of the day or week
- Organise fun social events or an OzPitch competition to maintain your members' contact and involvement with your Club in the off-season
- Create a welcoming and fun environment for families by running more social events during the on and off seasons
- Change your membership structure and fees to allow for different types of members, for example, casual players, schools, people with a disability, Indigenous players, businesses, community groups or older players
- Establish a Volunteer Recognition Program to acknowledge the contributions your volunteers make to the success of your Club
- Use your membership database to keep track of members’ birthdays or other special milestones such as years of membership or games played. Acknowledging these milestones tells your members that they are valued.