High club attrition rates after the holidays have become part of the new landscape. In spite of the challenges, wineries need to take proactive steps to curb the drop in their memberships. It is time to remind your tasting room staff how to perfect the save using great customer service and flexibility.
Here are four ways to retain members:
- Give all members reason to stay.
This is the time to ramp up your customer service to all members. Most club members belong to more than one wine club, sometimes as many as five to seven memberships. When members feel that they need to cut back, they choose the clubs that don’t stand out in their minds. Be creative when you think about what more you can offer. At the very least, remind them of what their benefits are. Most members don’t remember that you do X, Y and Z as a membership benefit.
- Give canceling members special reasons to stay.
As members give finances as the number one reason they must leave the club, this gives you an opportunity to find a solution that will help them out. Create a new alternative membership tier, say one that has less fulfillments or less bottles per wine release or offer to consolidate their shipments (shipping twice a year rather than quarterly to save shipping costs). These offers will not appear on your club sign up forms, but can be used as a tool by your club staff to help save a membership. Train your staff to deal with every cancellation with genuine compassion, and then empower them to find workable solutions to retain members. Hopefully, when the club member’s situation improves, they will remember your tactfulness.
- Offer to put them on hold temporarily.
If all else fails, ask a member who’s thinking about leaving if you can put them on hold for a few months. Offer to call them in three or six months and check with them. This way, they will still receive your communications and invitations to winery events. When their situation improves, they will remember your kindness and rejoin.
- Invite them to rejoin.
If members absolutely must cancel, be sure to explain that while they are no longer club members, they are still valued ‘friends of the winery’ and as such, you would like them to keep receiving your general winery communications. Then, be sure to invite them to visit back several times throughout the year. Always make it easy to come back.
We all need to work harder to keep club members as they have options as to where and how they purchase wine. However, the good news is that it is not like starting over with a stranger. Never forget that former members have already demonstrated loyalty to your brand. In their new status as ‘former members,’ be sure to remind them periodically of why they joined your wine club in the first place – for the wines, for the events and for the personal relationship that they have with your brand. Continue to market your winery to them and always keep the door open for their return!