In today’s competitive health and fitness market, it’s easy to get lost in the race for the newest fitness machines, the hottest classes, and a passion for increasing membership. There’s one forgotten secret, however, to a successful fitness center that most owners and managers just don’t get: exceptional customer service.
WHAT IT IS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
First, understand that simply having machines in working order, paper towels in the bathrooms, and a spotless facility are customer expectations. Going above and beyond this- anticipating your customers’ desires and needs- is what separates the average fitness center from an exceptional one.
Customer perceptions are vitally important today, where social media allows for your patrons to instantaneously share their dissatisfaction with the service your business provides.
HOW TO DO IT
Hire friendly, pleasant people.
Who you hire as the first point of contact for your present and future customers is the most important decision you will make. You can train anyone to check people in and do administrative duties. What you should be looking for are people who are naturally pleasant and approachable. Your front desk staff should be people who smile and look people in the eye when speaking to them. They should naturally know how to say “Good Morning!” when customers start their day by walking into your fitness center and “Have a great day!” or “Thanks for coming in!” on their way out.
Know your clients. Say their name.
Every staff member should be able to get to know at least a few regular clients by their first name. If a member has been attending your fitness center for more than 6 months and has never been spoken to by his or her first name, it is completely unacceptable. That member feels like nothing but a number in your facility, and that’s never a good thing.
Ask for their feedback.
Are the locker rooms as clean as the customer thinks they should be? Should you adjust the times of classes your facility offers? Are staff members friendly and helpful? You can find this out by simply introducing yourself and asking random members in between their workouts. If you don’t bother to ask, it gives the impression that you just don’t care.
Allow staff to fix things on the spot.
When a customer is unhappy and frustrated with your business, he needs two things. First, to have his problem solved quickly. And second, an apology for the inconvenience he has experienced.
Giving your staff the autonomy to fix minor problems without saying, “You’ll have to speak to management about that and there’s no one in today” is imperative. Does a customer need to freeze his membership for 4 months? No problem. Allow your staff member to take care of that right away.
What if there’s a complaint about a broken machine, or a class cancellation? Obviously, some issues can’t be solved immediately, but at the very least, your customer should receive a sincere apology and a coupon for something free- maybe the ability to bring a family member with them for one month. It goes without saying, a follow-up from management by the next day is necessary.
WHAT PEOPLE WANT
People expect the basics when they join your fitness center. What they want is something more: personalization, friendliness, and management who appreciates their membership.
Becoming the busiest fitness center isn’t rocket science. It just requires getting back to basics and providing exceptional customer service.