reprinted from Fitness Business Canada magazine, September 2017.
Develop a process to get regular member feedback. Can you really know how you’re doing from an experience standpoint without asking for feedback along the way?
Think of how much time an operator spends on developing the operational guidelines to create an exceptional member experience. Does your team really follow these guidelines? How can you know if you don’t audit the process? Finding gaps in service, experience, sales and retention can dramatically improve your club. Make it a collaborative team project so it is about everyone getting better and contributing to superior member experiences.
Mystery shopping now and again is a fantastic and objective way to get feedback. Other ways of getting member feedback are a suggestion box, an online link for member feedback, surveys, interacting with members in the club and simply asking, “How are we doing?” Follow-up calls along the way at one week, one month, 90 days and six months and beyond by email or phone are also a good strategy.
Gathering member feedback helps develop a transparent get-better culture that positively impacts both your club members and team members.
One simple thing you can do to improve your club is to keep things as simple as possible to help new members get started.
One of the most common objections we hear in the industry is, “I need to think about it.” Although it’s easy to put this response down to the incredible indecisiveness of today’s consumers, a lot of times it’s just the result of too much information.
Have a look at your pricing options. If your sales staff and personal trainers are offering more than three packages to choose from, you’ve got too many. Although you may think it pays to have multiple choices to suit all kinds of budgets, choice paralysis is a real thing and it may be costing you.
Remember the last time you went for ice cream and there were 27 flavours to choose from? You had to think about it didn’t you? Your prospective client feels the same way about your pricing.
The simplest way to improve your chances of a new member saying yes is to have three pricing options: basic, standard and platinum.
However, don’t leave the decision entirely in their hands. Why? Because making a decision bears the responsibility of potentially making the wrong decision. You’re the professional, and they’re looking to you for a recommendation so they don’t have to agonize over the options.
Try this approach:
And of course don’t forget to ask for the sale with the simple question: “Which one of these works best for you?”
fitness sales coach
One of the simplest and most effective things we’ve done to improve our club is to give members a voice by conducting a member survey. It’s a great way to find out what your customers really think about your club, the service provided, the amenities, etc.
We tried a paper survey about 12 years ago before everything was available and more easily shared through the internet. It gave us reasonable feedback, but distribution was left to the front staff and it didn’t provide a lot of in-depth answers.
This past year we conducted another member survey but in an online format. There are a few great sites, including Survey Monkey (www.surveymonkey.com) and Survey Gizmo (www.suveygizmo.com), which allow you to customize your own simple survey for free or to create a more elaborate survey for a charge. We used the free version of Survey Monkey and found it much more effective than the paper survey from years before. The process was as simple as posting a link to the survey on our blog and social media outlets and then waiting for the results.
Members told us they were happy we were listening, and they were more than willing to give their two cents about what they loved and liked and, because they had the option to submit their responses anonymously, what they thought needed improving.
Of course there were a few unreasonable requests, such as install a pool and put in skylights, and we took those with a grain of salt. But we were able to see the areas where members collectively agreed we needed to make improvements; if there were enough voices asking for the same thing, we knew it was an area we needed to prioritize.
One of the best things you can do for your members is to let them know you are always working to make their club better.
Fitness Focus Health & Athletic Centre
The one area I’d love to improve sounds simple, but it is challenging for many businesses: getting the right message out to the right people.
Our mission at the City of Mississauga is to get more people, more active, more often. Although I am both proud and inspired by this goal, we have a very broad scope of programs reflecting the needs of the entire community which presents a daunting task for our marketing department.
When I joined the City, I was surprised and in awe of the quality, content and range of services provided. Requirements for staff qualifications exceed industry standards, and there is so much additional training and support. We have multiple locations across the city offering fitness facilities, classes, aquatics and a leading-edge therapeutic membership. There are indoor and outdoor recreational sports and activities along with outdoor fitness stations, skateboard parks and trails. We have inclusion support for youth and adults, an adult day program for individuals with acquired physical disabilities and a financial assistance program.
With so much to offer, and with budgets that must stay responsible to the city council and the community, reaching target audiences is our challenge. Promotional budgets are limited and municipalities such as ours can be cautious and slower to change. In our fitness line of business, we are working on identifying our unique selling proposition based on our community values of trust, excellence and what I would call “humble quality.”
The action we can take immediately is to live and lead with these values every day and with every program, service and customer experience.
City of Mississauga