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Operations Blog

Operations: The Truth about TroubleMakers


And how they can be your best customers.

Do you have troublemakers as members? Does it seem like some of your members just cannot give you a break? Do they find fault in every operational decision you execute?

The good news for you, is this does not have to be the case!

The psychology behind what makes a trouble maker is an easy fix, and one that mutually benefits your “not so troublesome” members, and will also enhance your overall retention.

At the root of the trouble maker is the dissatisfied notion of not being paid attention to. Being paid attention to, or acknowledged, is one of the most precious gifts we can give someone. Especially in a customer service environment, paying close attention to the human beings coming to your facility, and treating each one as the snowflake they are, goes a very long way.

What ends up occurring in a trouble maker situation, is they have a harder time finding fault with you if you have a relationship with them and pay close attention to their needs.

So operationally, how do you implement such a strategy? What does it look like to elevate the attention level in your facility to alleviate the negativity that can come with operations?

1. Follow patterns and anticipate needs. The best thing about coffee shops is being a “regular,” meaning you walk in and your drink is already ready! But from a customer standpoint, there is nothing quite as sweet as being remembered and anticipated.

As an employee, make it a goal to notice and remember three to five member behaviors each day. And then the following day, anticipate their need by having one of their tendencies completed for them as they come into the facility. If Dale comes in every morning at 5:30 and asks you for a towel, tomorrow, have the towel waiting for him on the counter when he checks in. Anticipate needs.

2. Come up with a new line. “How is your day going, how are you” are tired, auto pilot questions. Become more creative and more memorable. Lead with what is current and what you see.

The other day I walked into the health club I am a member at. I had ran there and was then planning to lift for a bit before I ran home. The first words out of the front desk women’s mouth was, “Did you run here?” I replied, “Yes I did.” She followed by saying, “Great job, way to go, what are you here to do now?” We chatted for a minute and I walked upstairs to lift, smiling along the way. I love that she opened with an obvious statement instead of a canned “Hi, how’s your day?” Spend less time being vanilla and more time mixing it up. It will go a long way.

3. Be a resource and have something to offer, without wanting anything in return. Most of what is “offered” at the front desk is sales, specials and calls to action for the member to respond to. What I do not see a lot of is free information and employees willing to be resources without members having to ask. For instance, instead of offering a 10-pack of personal training sessions for $X amount, what about instead have a 15-minute technique lesson right before the largest barbell group exercise class? Promise that proper technique maximizes results and improves long-term gains. Surprise, delight and give people something before you ask for something in return.

Operationally, you can solve your problems with troublesome members by offering more attention to everyone.

By elevating the attention level in your facility you alleviate the negativity that can come with the operations of your business, eliminating troublemakers and generating happier members. And you know what they say, happy members tell their friends why they are so happy.

Enjoy integrating, friends!


Lindsey Rainwater is a consultant and coach to the fitness and wellness industry. She specializes in business development and leadership. Currently she is working with the Fitmarc Team helping health 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 @lindseyrainh2o.

Emily Harbourne is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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