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Supplier Voice

What Job Is She Trying To Get Done?


The “Jobs” theory is a concept developed by Clayton Christensen at Harvard Business School. It has been so successful in identifying innovative ways to address customer needs that there are now hundreds of articles, dozens of books and many companies that specialize in helping to identify the JTBD “job to be done.” It starts with this: No one buys a product or a service. They only HIRE a product or a service to do a job better, faster or cheaper than they can do themselves.

Carla is a 45-year-old nurse who is 30 pounds over weight. She works four 12-hour shifts each week and she is on her feet for the entire shift. She just walked into the doors of your club. What job is she trying to get done and why should she hire you? Typically the first thing we think is that she is hiring us to help with the “lose weight” job. Maybe. But it could be just as likely that it is the “I need to have enough energy at the end of my 12 hour shifts to serve my patients better” job.

Identifying the right JTBD from the beginning is what Christensen calls “The Big Hire.” I am hiring my health club for the “Hit a golf ball further than my friends” job.

There is also “The Little Hire.” The Little Hire is whether I actually use the product I bought. The Little Hire determines if the tool is worthy of getting the job done that I hired it to do. If it is not worthy of the JTBD, then that product or service gets fired. When someone cancels their membership they are simply firing the company they previously hired. And they replace it with something else.

This is where it gets trickier. I might replace my health club with going to a poker room if the JTBD was the “get out and be around people” job. I might replace my club with a bicycle if the JTBD was the “non intimidating exercise” job. If the JTBD was “clear my head after work” and I find that it becomes harder and harder to do in the gym, then I just might replace my club with a glass of wine, the couch and the evening news.

Start looking at some of your longest term and happiest members. Talk to them and see which JTBDs you are naturally fulfilling well. If you discover that you have a large cohort of members that all seem to be getting a similar job done, you just might find a unique marketing opportunity. By the same token, if you discover another group for whom you consistently get the Big Hire but are subsequently fired soon thereafter, you just might discover a programming opportunity.

Learn as much as you can about JTBD and start using it to innovate new ways to program, market and operate.


It’s fair to say that Blair McHaney is obsessed with how companies build loyalty. Through years of consulting and 34 years of ground-level operational experience, McHaney understands how companies execute on loyalty strategies. He is currently president of ClubWorks, Medallia’s partner specializing in Operational Customer Experience Management for the fitness industry. For more information email blair@medallia.com, visit www.mxmetrics.com or call 509-630-7307.

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