Beat the Summer Doldrums
With nice weather finally here…and the vacation season in full swing, you are likely experiencing a drop in member workouts and guest traffic, now is the time to fine-tune your approach to running your health club and look to increase incremental revenues and prepare for fall guest traffic.
The people aspect of the health club business is really what it is all about. Think of your members and guests as individuals. Once we think that way, we realize our health club is our member, and not the features of the facility. Putting all the focus on the features of our facility leaves out the most important component: each individual member.
Keeping those individual members in mind, here are some easy to remember when you want to keep them coming back for more.
- Don’t forget that there is no way the quality of member service can ever exceed the quality of the people who provide it. Regardless of circumstances, do you still think you can get by paying the lowest wage, giving the fewest of benefits, doing the least training for your staff? It will show in the end result. Health Clubs don’t help members… people do. It’s important to view your staff as your most valuable asset.
- Realize that the staff at your health club will treat your members the way they are treated. Employees take their cue from club management. Do you greet your employees enthusiastically each day; are you encouraging in your dealings with them; do you try to listen to their opinions? Consistent poor member service is a reflection not as much on the employee as on club management.
- Do you know who your members are? If a regular member came in to your health club, would you recognize them? Could you call them by name? All of us like to feel important; calling someone by name is a simple way to do it and lets them know you value them as members.
- Do your members know who you are? If they see you, would they recognize you? Could they call you by name? A visible health club management team is an asset. Management should be easily accessible and there should be no doubt about who’s in charge here. Get out of that office.
- Go the extra mile. Include a thank-you note in a members new membership package; send a birthday card; clip the article when you see their name or photo in print; write a congratulatory note when they get a promotion. There are all sorts of ways for you to keep in touch with your members and bring them closer to you.
- Are your members greeted when they walk in the door or at least within 30 or so seconds upon entering? Is it possible they could come in, look around, and go out without ever having their presence acknowledged? Front desk technology is a great thing, but don’t let it replace the continuous interaction with your members.
- Give members the benefit of the doubt. Proving to them why they are wrong and you’re right isn’t worth losing a member over. You will never win an argument with a member, and you should never, ever put a member in that position.
- When a member makes a request for something special, do everything you can to say Yes. The fact that a member cared enough to ask is all you need to know in trying to accommodate them. It may be an exception from your policy, but try to do it. Remember you are just making one exception for one member, not making new policy for the club.
- Are your employees properly trained in how to handle a member complaint or difficult situations? It’s the best investment you’ll ever make. Give them guidelines for what to say and do in every conceivable situation. Role play with your front desk staff. People on the frontline play the most critical role in your member’s experience. Make sure they know what to do and say to make that member’s experience a positive, pleasant one.
- Want to know what your member’s think of your health club? Ask them! Compose a “How Are We Doing?” card and leave it at the front desk. Keep it short and simple. Ask things like: what it is they like; what they don’t like; what they would change; what you could do better; about their latest experience at the club, etc.
Remember that the big money isn’t as much in winning new members as in keeping existing members. Each individual member’s perception of your health club will determine how well you do this.
Because they seriously impact long-term sales performance, your techniques and attitude toward your members can make or break your sales success, particularly during the summer months. Choose the system or technique that works comfortably and effectively for you, and stick with it. The right methods will not only increase potential members, but also help you enjoy looking for them.
Now, Go Beat those Summer Doldrums!