First Impressions Matter
When running a health club, there are a plethora of components to think about. From hiring to retention to first impressions, it can be exhausting trying to stay on top of everything. However, when a potential member walks through the doors, it is essential to remember the small things.
Even the most minute details can influence a membership decision. Can members find parking or do they have to roam around the parking lot for 10 minutes? Are the windows and glass glistening or covered in dust and fingerprints? Are the floors in the lobby clean or covered in dirt? Is front desk staff welcoming or do they seem preoccupied? These are just a few of the things people might notice when considering a potential membership.
Todd Beisch, the general manager at Cheetah Gym Wicker Park/Bucktown in Chicago, shares advice on what elements make a fitness club stand out to potential members and how Cheetah Gyms works to make a great first impression.
A clean environment — “We want the front lobby area when they walk in to be clean and full of energy. Whether it is physical cleanings, like the floors are mopped and all the machines are dusted off, to things like the weights being picked up. If there are a bunch of weights lying around a specific machine, that might deter someone from using it.”
Welcoming atmosphere — “The environment or vibe of the gym is also important. If you come in and the person at the front desk isn’t very talkative or music is not playing, that might not give off the best impression. When someone walks in, you don’t want to hear crickets. Have people who are engaged and willing to offer tours. We also have music playing in our front desk lobby and we keep it at a nice volume so it is not dead silent.”
Engaged front desk staff — “Get staff who cares and who are very approachable and welcoming. I always say that the front desk staff is the most important staff in the gym, because they have the most interaction with members or potential members. We look for people who are good with names. We are a smaller chain, so you will see the same people over and over. If you can learn names, that goes a long way with people. For example, let’s say a member comes into the gym and you know he always gets two towels. If you have those towels waiting, it is a little bit above and beyond what other places do. You build relationships what way.”
Offer tours — “When someone comes into the gym, I know they are interested in rates, but also offer [for them] to look around. You usually wouldn’t buy a car unless you test-drive it, so going through the gym and seeing everything we offer is essential. Then when you go over rates, really listen to their needs. If someone is only in town for a short time, you don’t want to keep pushing a year membership because that is not the right membership for them. Find out what a person is interested in, listen to them and offer different services to help them on their way.”
Functioning equipment — “Make sure that all equipment works. We try to catch it before our members do, so we do a weekly walk through of all of our cardio and weight machines to find any issues. If a piece of equipment isn’t working, we put up a sign to let members know that our repair staff has been notified and we will get the machine up and running as soon as possible.”