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In the highly competitive health and fitness club market, retaining current members and attracting new members is as important a goal as ever. Maximizing membership must be Priority Number One — if you want to keep your doors open. So, take a step back and ask yourself: What drives your club’s current membership strategy? Are you the biggest club in town? The newest? Do you have the latest and greatest machines? Do you emphasize group exercise and personal training? Price? Convenience? Are you known as the club with the friendliest or most expertly trained staff?
There are so many points to consider. And then there is cleanliness.
Yes, cleanliness, and more specifically, equipment cleanliness. It’s something that more and more people expect from the clubs they join. Lack of cleanliness is frequently cited among the primary reasons why people don’t join clubs and/or quit clubs.
Surprisingly, today too many club owners and managers continue to overlook cleanliness as a membership recruitment and retention strategy.
The good news — their oversight offers big opportunities to clubs that adopt cleanliness as a key part of their membership and marketing strategy. Clubs should use cleanliness — especially equipment cleanliness — to create and maintain a good reputation and competitive advantage. Why? For these reasons:
1. It’s different. In today’s hugely competitive fitness industry, most clubs are likely to offer top-notch equipment, amenities and programming. Those that don’t will suffer. Certainly, you need to promote the things that make your club special. But, while other clubs use similar features and benefits to define who they are, take ownership of cleanliness — it will set you apart. Make equipment cleanliness your competitive advantage. Your cleaning budget gives you “two for the price of one” — clean equipment AND great, positive marketing and advertising.
2. It’s appealing. People spend time in clubs to get healthier and stronger, not to contract germs, airborne illnesses and viruses that can live and breed on dirty equipment. A facility that promotes clean equipment practices, and implements a system and the associated products, that make it easy for members to clean equipment, is an appealing place to be — a place where members want to workout.
3. It can truly be “green.” Environmental responsibility and sustainability are no longer just fads. Today, it’s expected that businesses — health and fitness clubs included — embrace green practices to some degree. Yet green claims abound in the fitness industry, so raising your hand and saying “me, too!” won’t make you different. You have to prove it! If your equipment cleaning system generates disposable waste, just how green are you? Oh, by the way, your members notice!
A very effective green strategy is to deploy an environmentally, and economically sound equipment cleaning system, with the associated environmentally responsible products, throughout your facility. Your members will enjoy a healthier environment, you’ll save money, and you’ll have a genuine, defendable green strategy to promote and market to current and prospective members.
4. There are a lot of bad guys out there — germs. Remember the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, or this winter’s H2N3 flu epidemic? And we can’t forget, or ignore, MRSA and staph. Outbreaks that capture the media’s attention are on an all too frequent basis. Most often the community-based facilities that are targeted by the media as “transmission locations” are fitness centers and athletic training centers. Just because the “illness” season ends, or “germs in gyms” aren’t making the headlines, is no reason to let down your “equipment cleaning guard.” Unfortunately, at clubs around the country, machines are still streaked with sweat after each use because cleaning supplies are inconveniently located far from the equipment itself, or are non-existent. That’s not good business in general. And, if it leads to locker room chatter about dirty equipment, you’re in real trouble.
Industries change over time, and the fitness industry is no exception. People will always choose clubs based on many factors. But experts agree that cleanliness, including equipment cleanliness, has risen to the top of the list. Clubs that continue to minimize the importance of, or ignore, equipment cleanliness will put their members at increased risk for illness, and leave their own reputations and bottom lines vulnerable. Either way, it’s not worth it, especially when there are easy, inexpensive, convenient and green cleaning system solutions available.
Remember: Club Cleanliness = Member Retention and Attraction = Great Club Marketing and Advertising.
Dr. Bruce A. Sherman, Ph.D. is the President of GymValet/B & D Specialty Concepts, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.435.2009 (216.378.4298 outside the U.S.), or by e-mail at email@example.com.