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Retention is in the Details


In 2015, Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club in Denver, Colorado, shut down the wet areas of its men’s locker rooms for a span of four months in order to complete a remodel.

Paula Neubert, the gym’s general manager, had a feeling that some members would be displeased by the inconvenience. But thanks to Medallia, a survey tool powered by ClubWorks, Neubert didn’t have to go off her feelings to gauge her members’ reactions. Through Medallia, she could see exactly how members felt about the renovations.

Prior to the remodel, the gym’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), which rates the gym on a number of key factors such as value and service, was in the high 60s. During the renovation, that number took a hit. “There was a correlation between the locker room being shut down and our NPS,” she said. “It was crazy watching it. The score definitely went down, because members were unhappy about not having [access to] the full facility.”

Thanks to Medallia, Neubert could see exactly which members were disgruntled due to the remodel. As a result, she was able to keep in touch with those members to ensure they knew steps were being made to remedy the situation.

“I saved every single survey and every single email and every single comment that I got from every gentlemen during that time frame, and I put it into a special box in my Outlook,” explained Neubert. “I had 107 people that I had spoken to during that time frame that were either displeased or disgruntled, or at least reached out to me.”

The day before the men’s locker room re-opened, Neubert personally called each of those 107 people to let them know the locker room would be open the next day. Neubert swears this action helped Greenwood Athletic Club from losing some of those disgruntled members.

“I still have some of those gentlemen come up to me and say, ‘You have no idea what that phone call meant. The fact that you called me the night before to make sure I knew it was going to be open, that did wonders,’’’ said Neubert. “All I did was make a phone call.”

According to Neubert, this scenario is a perfect example of how Greenwood Athletic Club uses communication to keep a pulse on its members’ thoughts in order to decrease attrition. She explained members just want to know that you care. “Even if our answer is no, because we will say no to a lot of requests, they at least want to make sure that you heard them, and what was the reason behind the decision that you made,” she said.

Bottom line, the staff at Greenwood Athletic Club care about each and every member that walks through its doors.

“As much as I want to say Greenwood is this beautiful club, we still have treadmills and we have classes and we have all the things that every other facility has,” said Neubert. “The difference is, from the time a person drives into the parking lot, we put effort into everything. What does our entrance look like? What does our parking lot look like? Do they have all the spaces they need? We want Greenwood to be the best part of their day, so we really are focusing on the full experience.”

At Greenwood Athletic Club, staff are trained to forge personal relationships with members as much as possible. Each employee, regardless of occupation, is expected to smile and say hello to any member that crosses their path.

However, one employee in particular is in charge of the club’s resignations: the member coach. This position was created about seven years ago, and Neubert explained it has been crucial to Greenwood continuing to forge positive relationships with members and lower attrition.

“The member coach is completely dedicated to every resign that comes in the building,” explained Neubert. “If there’s anybody that submits a resign, she’s the first person that’s going to go talk to them, try and have an exit interview with them, try to have a conversation with them and so forth and see if there’s any way that we can save them.”

Preferably, the member coach would have a face-to-face conversation with the resigning member. “Her number one goal is to get them back in and see her, so she can get them jump started again on a program and getting them back in,” said Neubert.

The same protocol is applied to members who are low users. “There’s always been that whole thing where people say, ‘If they’re not using the club you’re still getting the money from them,’” said Neubert. “Well, that is the opposite of the way that we work. We feel if they’re spending the money here at our club, we owe it to them to make sure that they’re coming in. So we go after them.”

Because Greenwood pays such close attention to usage-rates, there’s no question that the members know staff cares. This is due in part to the club’s leadership. Neubert and the rest of the leadership team place stress on the importance of offering top-quality service to every member. And the staff have bought into that goal.

“Our staff is the most important thing,” said Neubert. “One of the questions that we have in the survey is, ‘Has anyone given you 5-star service and if so who is that?’ We want to know who it is on our staff that’s providing unbelievable service and then we want to recognize them. We’ll put their names up all over the club because we want to make sure that the rest of the members know it.”

Staff who exemplify the gym’s core values get a gift card. “They recognize each other all the time too,” said Neubert.

Again, retention at Greenwood Athletic Club lies in the details. Through close attention to customer service, the forging of close member-staff relationships, and constant communication with members, the club has almost guaranteed that high attrition never takes it by surprise.

Neubert stressed the Medallia survey is a huge part of that. “Without a doubt, invest in getting some form of a survey,” she said. “It is the best dollar amount we’ve ever spent.”

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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