4 Keys to a Successful Membership Program

Ashley Taylor Anderson

Local small business membership program tips

For many service-based businesses, membership programs are essential. Not only do they help businesses by securing repeat visits, locking down revenue in advance, and fostering loyalty to your brand —they also help customers by encouraging them to commit to a regular practice while saving money in the process.

However, not all membership programs are created equal. New entrepreneurs, or those new to memberships, often struggle to identify the best way to structure, implement, and grow their program.

These 4 key actions will ensure that you get the most out of your program, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been signing members up for years.

1. Tout the Benefits of Commitment

Whether you own a spa, massage therapy clinic, cycling studio, martial arts school, or pet grooming business, all customers are motivated to join a membership program for the same reason: the benefits of commitment. Whether it’s healthier skin, reduced tension, improved fitness, advanced knowledge, or happier pets, your customers want to see positive change that result from investing over time. The most effective membership programs focus first and foremost on the benefits that customers will gain from joining.

2. Create Tiers that Cater Your Customer Base

While your customers may share the same motivation to become members, they don’t all share the same financial constraints. When creating membership tiers, consider who your customers are and how much they’re willing to spend monthly or annually. If your customers have more disposable income, create a few high-end options; if your customers represent a range of incomes, create at least one affordable option and one premium option. Family add-on prices should be factored into each tier as well.

In addition to cost, also consider what types of services would lend themselves to a membership program. If you own a fitness studio that only offers spin classes, you’ll likely only have one type of membership; however, if you own a spa that offers facials, massages, body wraps, and waxing, you may need a number of different membership options around the services your clients want on a regular basis.

3. Sweeten the Deal with Savings

While long-term benefits are great, cost savings is another powerful motivator to encourage your customers to become a member. Whether you offer a free service or class, discounted session prices, retail products, or some other incentive, pairing personal benefits with monetary savings will definitely draw more interest.

4. Promote Your Program Consistently

It’s not enough just to have your membership program listed on your website. In order to really grow your membership business, you need to be constantly promoting you program—to the right audience, of course. Here are a few ideas you can try:

  • Recommend your membership program to customers who come in 3 or more times for the same service or class.
  • Send a dedicated email campaign to your regular customers who aren’t a part of your program every few weeks.
  • Plug your program on social media.
  • Have a membership promotion event at your location with a one-time special offer attached to new signups.
  • Around the holidays, encourage friends and family to purchase memberships for your current customers, and throw in a free gift for the purchaser.
  • Incentivize membership referrals by giving current customers a free service, class, or retail product if one of their family or friends becomes a member as well.

The Bottom Line

Memberships are a great way to boost revenue, drive repeat business, and secure your customers’ loyalty. Once you’ve turned all 4 of the above keys, your membership program will be firing on all cylinders! 

About the Author

Ashley Taylor Anderson

Ashley Taylor Anderson is a content developer and marketer who's spent her career knee-deep in the B2B technology space. In previous professional lives, she worked as a science textbook editor, media producer, and pastry chef.

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