The Differentiator: The What, the Why and the How
What is your differentiator? Your value proposition? What is unique about your fitness business? These are all common questions that operators should ask themselves and their teams on a frequent basis.
Consider this: a squat performed within the confines of your fitness facility is the same as a squat performed in your competitor’s – assuming the quality of the movement is the same. A bottled water sold in your fitness center is materialistically the same as one sold in your competitor’s. You offer personal training, small group training, group fitness and team training – your competitor does, too. The product you sell is “fitness.” So is your competitor’s.
That begs the biggest question: Why would a customer pay for your product over your competitor’s?
One could argue that it’s not what you do. A fitness center, regardless of model, should always emphasize quality movement and behavior modification to elicit positive health behaviors that are consistent and effective. This ultimately leads to client results, good experiences and retention — which is imperative to the bottom line. But what you offer is not intrinsically different than what your competitor offers. At the end of the day, what you offer is “physical movement.”
How you offer your product (fitness) compared to your competitor may be a little more fluid and, at times, a little more challenging for everybody on the team to understand. You may sell your personal training services at point of sale, and your competitor may not. You may elect to hold monthly free trial sessions for your programs, whereas your competitor may not. You may only offer 30-minute, one-on-one training, and your competitor offers 45-min and 60-min training sessions.
The way you package your training may be different than your competitors. How you offer your product tends to be more challenging for staff to grasp than what your actual product is. This means that the message to your customer about your product is directly proportional to your staff’s understanding of how you offer it — this impacts the bottom line.
Why you do it is the game changer, and the foundation of why the company exists in the first place. All organizations know what they offer, fewer know how they offer it, even fewer know why they offer it. Knowing the why is crucial. Leaders and staff who know and understand why the company exists, why a certain service is offered, and why a program is developed, makes all the difference when trying to distinguish yourself from your competitor.
Why is that?
Having a clear understanding of the why can allow for a deeper appreciation of the company’s vision, mission and values. This fosters buy-in from staff and allows them the opportunity to evaluate if their core values align with your own. A rooted understanding of why a company exists can cultivate a culture of transparency, trust and communication that support the company’s overall vision. A staff that intimately grasps the why may have a better awareness of how the product is delivered and better appreciate what is being sold.
The culture of a company is the differentiator. A culture that manifests transparency, trust and communication can foster an environment that is inspiring, exciting and driven to help people live out the mission of the company. Having staff completely onboard with the why, the how and what is being sold, can harvest a workplace culture that moves in the same direction, for the same reasons and for the same goals. Ultimately, this impacts the customer and makes all the difference between them purchasing your product or your competitor’s. Culture is king.
Spend time and develop systems to routinely revisit and educate staff about what it is you sell, how you sell it and why you sell it. As operators, we need to engage with our team and model actions that support our mission, vision and values. Staff that intimately believes in your culture and believes in why you exist as a business can be the reason why a customer purchases your product and not your competitor’s.
In a recent Club Solutions article Joe Ciruli wrote, “The only thing that truly separates one business from another is the culture of the company. We can have the greatest facility in the world, but if the staff isn’t right, we will never reach our potential.”
Eddie Davila, MS, ACSM-CEP, EP-C is co-owner/operator of Urban Fitness in Bozeman, Montana. He can be reached at email@example.com, on Instagram (@urbanfitnessmt), Facebook, LinkedIn, or visit www.urbanfitnessmt.com.