5 ways to keep long-standing members happy when you’re planning big changes

A short while ago, a nationally-known brand bought out a leisure club very close to the Club Insure head office.

The club is now going through a big transition. They’re refurbishing, updating technology and changing all the sign posts so that they’re in keeping with other clubs under the umbrella.

For some of the club’s members, the transition doesn’t mean much. They’ll still go to the club at the same time every day and they’ll still use the facilities in the same way. For them, apart from a new name and some shiny new equipment, it’s the same club it always was.

But for other members, especially those who don’t like too much change in their life, the buy-out is a scary time. They’re not sure where it leaves them or their membership. They’re worried that their routine is now shattered and life as they know it will change forever.

We know this first hand because a number of Club Insure colleagues are members of the leisure club.

But we’ve also heard similar stories from sports clubs and WMCs up and down the country.

It might not involve a buy-out, but any change can be scary to some members.

Rule changes, club amalgamations, management changes; all could completely alter a members experience of their club.

For this article, we’re going to look at 5 ways clubs going through big changes are keeping their long-standing members happy. We’ve also added a couple of our own suggestions in there as well.

1 Be open and honest to your members

Long-standing members know their club inside and out. They know when change is happening, so trying to keep it from them isn’t going to work. If they have trouble adjusting to change, give them time. For instance, the leisure club near Club Insure’s head office put posters up about the buy-out 3 months before it actually happened.

If members know there is a change coming, they can prepare for it. At this point, it’s also worth telling members exactly how the change will affect them.

2 Focus on your members

When you have something brand new and shiny, like a new licensee’s name above the door or a refurbishment, you want to tell the world about it. You want to use the change to attract lots and lots of new customers.

But at this fragile time, the most important people to focus on are your members. They need to feel secure and appreciated. They need to know they’re still your number one priority.

So run some member’s nights. Discount their membership for a month or two. Thank them for their patience during the transition with a round on you.
If you don’t focus on them, you could lose them.

3 Speak to your members

One of the common failures of change at a club, is not understanding the needs of your members. Club’s change for changes sake, and sometimes they lose the essence of what made them great in the first place.

If your club is hiring a new manager, ask them to speak to your members as first port of call. They can use the discussion to find out what members liked, and didn’t like, about the way the previous incumbent ran the club.
The same goes for refurbishments. It’s great that you want to give the place a new lick of paint, but maybe the members loved the way it used to look.
For every change, there must be compromise.

4 Keep disruption to a minimum for your members

Members know that when their club is going through a big change, there will be disruption. It takes time to implement new equipment, new staff and new ideas. But that doesn’t mean they’ll wait around forever while you get things sorted.

If your members come to your club every day, a month without walking through your doors could be a complete game changer for their routine. In that time, they could decide club life isn’t for them anymore, or they could find their way to the bar at the club down the road.

Make sure that when you do have to make changes, you get the work completed as quickly as possible.

5 Keep things the same for your members

Finally, and this is probably the most important thing to note, if you don’t have to change something, don’t. If it’s working just fine and you aren’t confident on improving on it, leave it as it is.

If you have a popular snooker table, and you’re thinking about having a more American theme with a pool table, ask yourself how it will benefit members.

Are you doing it for them, or you?

Members stay members at a club because they like the club how it was. Keep changes to a minimum, and there’s no reason for them to fear anything new.

So there you have it, our top 5 tips. Club Insure know a thing or two about clubs changing, refurbishing, selling-out or getting new management, because we’ve been in the club industry for such a long time. In our 20 year history, we’ve supported clubs through all different kinds of upheaval.
If you’re looking for a specialist insurance broker who can help you embrace change and protect your club for future generations, contact us today.

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Sam Humphrey

Sam Humphrey

Sam is Club Insure's Digital Communications Manager. It's his job to make sure that our readers are getting the information they want in the ways they want it. You can contact him on Twitter (@itssamhumphrey) with requests for content.