Following the launch of the RYA Regional Plans back in 2017, the RYA have been committed to helping clubs decrease membership churn. Club membership churn is defined as ‘the proportion of club membership leaving per annum’ and reducing it is a key tactic in supporting clubs to grow their overall membership.

In looking to identify the main reasons for membership churn, the RYA asked a specialist market research team to put together a satisfaction survey designed specifically for clubs and their members. Affiliated clubs were given the chance to participate for free in this project fully funded by the RYA. Now a few months down the line, the results are in and we take a look at what this means for clubs and the wider boating community.

What is the Satisfaction Survey?

An online survey created to gather up-to-date feedback on various aspects of club life, the Satisfaction Survey was implemented to help clubs better understand their members, what is important to them and the reasons behind membership churn. Measuring 23 different factors, this has been the first data capture exercise of this level available to clubs, providing an invaluable insight into how they are performing and what could be improved.

Who took part?

54 clubs across the 10 RYA Regions and Home Countries took part, with the online survey being completed by some 4,022 members.

What were the findings?

Each participating club was given a scoresheet detailing the factors their members thought were the most important, as well as how satisfied members were with these factors at their club. By identifying gaps between importance and satisfaction, clubs can see what they are doing well and where they need to improve.

The results have also helped the RYA identify national satisfaction drivers (elements which are suggested to most positively impact overall member satisfaction) and also those which are suggested to maintain member satisfaction (don’t positively affect, but will negatively affect if not maintained).

Interestingly, the majority of drivers or ‘satisfaction enhancers’ relate to the softer and more people-focused factors including: ‘approachability of those running the club’, ‘welcoming atmosphere’ and ‘club making members feel valued’.

Meanwhile, more process-related factors such as the ‘club’s attitude to safeguarding children and vulnerable people’, ‘health and safety’ and ‘level of membership fees’; as well as more equipment-based factors such as the ‘changing facilities’ and ‘food and beverage facilities’ are more likely to be ‘satisfaction maintainers’.

With this in mind, it won’t be a great surprise that clubs with an inclusive people-focussed programme like RYA OnBoard or Sailability, as well as those with Training Centre recognition had a slightly higher overall satisfaction score than those without.

Why is this information so important for clubs?

Each participating club will be working closely with their associated RYA Regional Development Team to act on the findings. At many clubs, the benefits of the results are already having an impact.

Alice Allen, Honorary Secretary at Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club commented: “We have found the information and feedback received from the RYA Satisfaction Survey really useful. It has given us a clear idea of what our members really value, what they would like more of and what areas can be improved.

She added: “As a club we couldn’t carry out this sort of survey ourselves with such a detailed analysis of the responses from members. It has enabled us to plan our key areas of activity and has given us a benchmark against other clubs throughout the country.”

The findings have revealed that whilst each and every factor has a level of importance with no sole solution for improving member satisfaction, there are a number of things clubs can do to address this. Changes needn’t be expensive and the significance of promoting a welcoming, inclusive and friendly environment for club members shouldn’t be underestimated.

What’s next?

Further findings from the Satisfaction Survey will be presented to clubs at the RYA Affiliated Clubs Conferences later this year, providing those that didn’t take part with a valuable overview of the feedback.

The RYA remains committed to supporting affiliated clubs to retain members and following the success of this year’s survey will be repeating the Satisfaction Survey again in June 2019. Clubs that would like to know more about member satisfaction at their club are encouraged to express their interest here, with further details to follow in the New Year.