A common recurring theme across various coworking focused groups and slack channels is member retentions (or optimizing member churn rates). It seems that some owners and operators have become obsessed with member retention and new entrants are wondering if this is a metric they should track and focus on. Or is it just a vanity metric? We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sajid Islam, founder of Hubdhaka coworking in Dhaka, Bangladesh to get his insights and put this question to rest.
Member turnover is often overemphasized. Turnover is when a member leaves a space. However, focusing on and trying to decrease turnover is a lost battle.
Owners and operators spend a lot of time tracking the turnover rate of their members and how to stop them from leaving. This is probably the wrong number to be chasing for two main reasons. One, members usually leave because of some unavoidable change. Two, owners and operators should not rely on turnover to make improvements to their space. Trying to optimize member retention can actually do more harm than good by funneling time and resources into the wrong elements.
When a member leaves, it is typically because they got a new job, they are undergoing a lifestyle change, moving out of the area, receiving a better offer elsewhere, or the space is simply no longer fulfilling their needs. These variables are not really changeable. A member that leaves because of some externality cannot be persuaded to stay. So, why spend limited resources on something that you have no control over?
Unless there is a serious issue owners and operators should already be addressing problems or issues in their space. They should be proactive, rather than reactive. If you react to a member leaving by trying to fix or improve your space, then you are doing it wrong. If you need a turnover rate to tell you to fix something, you are not paying enough attention to your own space. Your limited time and resources should go towards who is in your space and who will come, not who is leaving.
The better thing to focus on would be branding. Think about how to set yourself apart from other spaces. Your resources would make more use in establishing yourself amongst the competing spaces in the area.
Members leaving can sound scary. After all, no members means no profit. However, instead of fearing the coming and going of members, owners and operators should embrace it.
Members will inevitably leave. Most times, it has nothing to do with the space itself. In fact, when members develop their project up to a certain point, many of them might leave to pursue even bigger goals. When your members are successful outside of your space, they can actually help build your reputation. If others see these people getting their big start from your space, they too will want to come. Supporting your members as they leave onto the next phase of their career can ironically build their loyalty to your space and bring in more members.
The emphasis on turnover is putting a focus on the wrong thing. Rather than tracking who is leaving, you should track the number of new leads, tours, and conversions to membership. These are the numbers that you should try to fix.