Ask an Expert: Jeni Dowst

Full frame Photo

Jeni Dowst. Photo courtesy of GHF.

You have questions, we have answers. We took some time this month to speak with Jeni Dowst, the front desk manager for Gainesville Health & Fitness, about how your club, by implementing a great front desk staff, can improve retention and the member experience.

“What type of person makes the best front desk attendant?”

JD: The best receptionist is someone that can genuinely engage with the member. Here are a few characteristics I look for — efficiently multitasks, always alert of their surroundings, optimistic, not easily flustered, coherent, a problem-solver, has a strong desire to help others and always wears a smile.

“How many people should you have behind a front desk at any given 
time, and why?”

JD: You should always have two receptionists scheduled. This leaves one receptionist able to handle any member and/or guest question and answer phones, while the other receptionist solely operates your check-in station, ensuring that every member receives recognition upon entering and exiting your club.

“How can clubs use automated front desk check in scanners?”

JD: Automatic scanners are great because they allow receptionists to spend less time searching for member accounts and more time acknowledging each member! I find that members appreciate how quickly they can scan into the gym and get started on their workouts.

“What is the secret every front desk attendant should know to remember members’ names?”

JD: Have a conversation more in depth than, “Hi, how are you?” with your members and use their name! You would be surprised how well you remember the member’s name the next time you see them!

“Why are front desk attendants important to maintain a successful fitness club?”

JD: Members and guests immediately see the front desk upon entering your club. The environment the receptionists provide could make or break your guests’ decision to be a part of your club. It is equally as important for members to feel they have a second family at your club and that they are a part of an experience that is more than just a health club.

Five Tips for Implementing a Great Front Desk Strategy:

  • Engaging staff.
  • Systems that are easy to follow.
  • Communication between all departments — the front desk is the hub of all information.
  • Offer solutions to problems.
  • The member comes first, always!

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