The explanations for why members should pay for unused months ranges from easier accounting to a motivation for exercise. One respondent states, “Who needs help getting let off the hook to not have to work out on a regular basis? At least the guilt of wasting money might help as a motivator. Whatever works!”
One respondent felt that having members only pay for the months they used was a punishment for the facility: “Why should clubs be ‘punished’ for lack of member usage? I think clubs should have programs in place to assist in member retention. But if we withhold income from a club based on attendance, too many clubs will have to close…. During months when members may be on vacation or working extra hours and are not making the commitment to themselves, it is not the fault of the facility.”
Some respondents took the question as a month-to-month versus contract situation. Says one such person, “I believe all clubs should operate on a contract basis, and members should pay the months under contract even if they don’t use them….By maintaining regular hours, upkeeping equipment and providing service, we have fulfilled our part of their contract. In order to save grace with our members, we do have an extension clause in our contracts. If a member informs us if they are going out of town or has a medical emergency, and as long as they pay the dues as stated in their contract, we will give that time back to them. Regulation is the key, and only members who inform us in writing ahead of time have the ability to use this option.”
Another facility operator also sees this as a contract situation: “…I have watched as major club operators have jumped on the month-to-month bandwagon. I feel it has been a detriment to our industry. The major reason is the ‘low ball’ price tag for their programs.
They cannot be selling the benefits of exercise; it is price-motivated! Of course, I know I will get a lot of detractors to my position, statements like, ‘With a month-to-month membership, you have to earn the members’ business every day, etc.’ But that is equally true with a term membership, especially if you are competing against a company selling the month-to-month. Why? Because 50 percent of all new sales come from member referrals….For us, [term contracts] just make good business sense.”