In the world of group and personal training, it’s easy to get caught up in the process. Having the latest functional tools, the best trainers and programs, and a great facility used to make you stand out, but it’s simply not enough anymore. Tom Knighton, the executive vice president of Conversant, has said, “Customer experience is the next competitive battleground. It’s where business is going to be won or lost.”
Some businesses understand this concept well. As an example, Starbucks isn’t a success because they have the best coffee. Sure, they work to offer high-quality products, but other coffee shops do as well. They’re successful because they work tirelessly to craft the best customer experience. Everything that happens from the time a customer walks in and is greeted by the staff is practiced and consistent. The Starbucks atmosphere was created to establish a friendly and welcoming environment. Through their success they have changed the mindset of coffee customers worldwide from a coffee shop being a place to buy a cup of coffee to a place to experience a good cup of coffee. We have now entered the customer experience battlefield in our clubs.
In recent years, we could differentiate our businesses by having a few things like turf, kettlebells, team and small group training. If a club had these things, they stood out. Now, when prospects come to clubs, they expect it because everyone else has it. What once made a club truly unique has now become the prevailing model. Yes, you want your staff and programs to be the best, but does the customer really understand your trainers and programs are better? And are they? Do your trainers really have a “super lunge” that guarantees better results than the trainers down the road don’t know about? Other competitors in your market may also have quality trainers and programs that are effective, so we need to differentiate ourselves through the experience.
Many things like the quality of your programming is part of the experience, but it starts way before the first lunge. How are the members and prospects greeted when they enter the club? Is the front desk clean and inviting? Do you have convenience items like bins with sticks of gum and hair ties at the front desk? Look at premium hotels. They go to great lengths to create an amazing customer experience — why shouldn’t you? In the team and small group training programs, are your coaches consistent in how they greet the members, explain and coach the workouts, do the high five at the end, and thank them for their business when they leave? Also, is the programming consistent no matter which trainer happens to be coaching that day?
These are all things that need to be addressed to provide the highest quality customer experience. So, don’t worry so much about developing that next secret exercise and focus more on the experience you provide, and win the battle!
Tony Chemer is the vice president of sales at Alloy.