by Dave Wright
I write this month’s article on my flight back from Las Vegas where the International Health Racquet and Sports club Association (IHRSA) had its annual global trade show and education conference. It’s supposed to be where all the new trends, equipment, gadgets and technologies are displayed all designed to help clubs ultimately get more and keep more members… or to put it another way, to help clubs `make more money’ (and yes to help pay for their kit!).
I’ve been attending IHRSA for the past two decades and I always pick up more knowledge from viewing clubs in the town and speaking to people than cruising the trade show floor. You meet so many interesting people and it reminded me how it was at IHRSA one year that I was fortunate enough to meet one club owner who- on the topic of `mission statements’, produced his key ring that had what he believed his club should stand for. It wasn’t to do with long winded missions statements and values to save the world…. it was 3 simple words: Clean, Safe and Friendly.
Let me explain:
Clean: Make no mistake about it, ripped carpet, smelly change rooms, messy weight rooms, torn upholstery and no uniforms do not give the impression to a member that you care about the place that they are going to spend a lot of their time and money in. You don’t have to have shiny gold plated sinks or white fluffy towels, but you have to offer a clean and spotless environment. Particularly if you want to attract the female population.
Safe: Although this might sound too basic, I can not stress the amount of times you train at a gym where exercises are performed incorrectly. Understanding your members and then guiding them to the appropriate activity that is in line with their goals, objectives and current fitness levels is key. But do you have the confidence to go up to someone who is doing an activity wrong and correct them? In many gyms around the world, people train incorrectly with the wrong advice and then cancel their memberships because they don’t get results and then club owners are left scratching their heads wondering why their attrition is so high. The one skill set that we as an industry have is our expertise… we need to exploit that strength.
Friendly: Whether you like it or not, the `Yanks’ do friendly VERY well. They use your name when they know it, they give you eye contact when they shake your hand, they seem genuinely interested when they speak to you. Is it because they are from a culture of rewarding good service with tips or is it because they are from a very heavily populated market place and they know that being Good is no longer acceptable- you have to be Great to succeed? Either way, do you or your staff wear their name badges? Do you greet every member as they enter the club by using their name and say good bye when they leave? Could you or your staff pick 10 people in the gym at any one time and know something about them that could only be found out if you’d had an engaging conversation with? If you can do all this with a smile, then you will have ticked this box. If not, then you have an opportunity to improve.
So there it is… no buttons, screens, belts or `eco-systems’, just simple ways to improve your club to get more and keep more members. Is it the future of the fitness industry or do you think it will be the same story in another 20 years time?
Dave Wright is the CEO of CFM/MYZONE, a global company with over 300 staff that have served the international fitness community for over 23 years; focusing on either getting new members and/or keeping existing ones. Dave is also the owner of 11 health clubs across two continents, a board director of ukactive, founder of IOU (Independent Operators Unite), an IHRSA presenter and the creator of MYZONE. He may be contacted on Dave.Wright@cfm.net
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