During my second year of pursuing an undergraduate degree in hospitality, I was asked to read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. That book set into motion an important belief that continues to influence me today; namely that a passion for meaningfully connecting with people to impact their lives in a positive way can make a big difference.
One of my favorite quotes from Carnegie’s book is, “You can close more business in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” During the past thirteen years of serving customers in the fitness and hospitality industries, I have concluded that Dale was correct, and by changing your service orientation from being about “you” to being about the customer, can make a big difference.
A good example of this mind shift is the new membership experience in health clubs. When you think about your sales staff, or member service reps, ask yourself: “How are you coaching them on what to sell?” The most likely answer would be services, such as new equipment, a wide variety of group fitness classes and child care, among other features.
But what if that same membership representative took an active interest in the person joining the facility and instead learned more about them? What if the initial interaction entailed an open conversation, led by the new member, that had little to do with “what you had to offer,” but instead focused on what they needed?
In getting to the root of that question, you’d identify why that person walked through the door. “I need to exercise, my doctor told me I am 25 pounds over weight and if I don’t make changes, my health will continue down hill, so I came here.” By listening to the member as opposed to telling them what they need, you’ll be able to be of greater help and establish a more genuine relationship where you could impact their lives in a very positive way.
Truly serving a member as opposed to focusing on a transaction is the key to starting a quality relationship. Ultimately, what creates long-term retention and new membership growth are the relationships within the business — both management to staff and staff to members. So, how do you effectively create meaningful experiences for people?
We have an opportunity as an industry to go above and beyond the current creation and execution of member experiences. Being of service to the people we touch in a revolutionary way is key.
Join me as I share more thoughts on this subject in coming posts and please let me know your thoughts @Lindseyrainh2o. Cheers and thanks for reading.
Lindsey Rainwater is an experienced consultant and coach to the fitness and wellness industry. Currently she is working with the Fitmarc Team helping club owners all over the south central region of the United States propel their business forward via group exercise solutions. For more information about Lindsey, follow her on Twitter @lindseyrainh2o.