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How to Fix Poor Member Experience

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poor member experience

Poor member experience leads to a host of negative consequences. Here, gain strategies for improving the member experience by investing in staff engagement.

Member experience is one of the key drivers of success for health clubs. If your member experience isn’t up to snuff, the result is poor member acquisition, low retention — and conversely, high attrition — few referrals, and other negative consequences.

So, how can you turn member experience at your club around if you’re getting negative feedback either in-person, in online reviews or through your Net Promoter Scores? 

Club leaders recently tackled this very issue at the 2022 Club Solutions Leadership Summit in Palm Beach, Florida, during the roundtable “Get Staff Engaged in Member Experience First.” Led by moderator Blair McHaney, the CEO of MXM, attendees were tasked with tackling a case study revolving around a club with poor customer reviews, mainly stemming from staff who were not engaged or viewed as unfriendly. 

poor member experience

To fix this issue, attendees were asked to come up with ideas to engage staff through the following tactics:  

  • Rewards: These are to be used ad hoc when you catch people doing things right.
  • Awards: These are more formalized, scheduled and have a transparent process for achieving the award.
  • Recognition: These are also ad hoc and used when you catch people doing things right. The difference is that there is no tangible gift associated with the recognition. It can be done publicly or privately.
  • Incentives: Money given to accomplish something.

By using these tactics, the idea is they will engage staff and ultimately lead to an improved member experience. 

Below are the top takeaways from the group discussions within this framework: 

Reward Tactics

  • Find out what gifts or rewards employee value. Amy Bueme, the co-owner of Catalyst Fitness, gives unique gifts — such as a brand of popular hair ties — to staff she knows they love. 
  • Provide gift cards, concert tickets/experiences, dinners or breakfasts to employees who exhibit a job well done. 
  • Pay for a continuing education course or certification. 

Award Tactics

  • Joe Cirulli, the owner of Gainesville Health & Fitness (GHF), has created a number of awards that recognize staff for going above and beyond, including the Rock All Star program and Inspire Awards. For example, the Inspire Awards are given to GFH staff who are truly inspirational to members and staff.
  • Create awards that are KPI driven on the team or department level — for example an award to the highest net promoter scoring department. 
  • Develop annual awards tied to core values. 

Recognition Tactics 

  • In email or using other internal feedback measures, “shout out” employees who have received positive member feedback. 
  • Recognize great employees on social media. 
  • Publicly praise employees in meetings. 

Incentive Tactics 

  • Create moments or events for recognition and fun. For example, Rodney Steven II, the owner of Genesis Health Clubs, takes top-performing staff on leadership retreats to exclusive locations like Cabo to reward them for a job well done. 
  • Design bonuses around positive member feedback. 
  • Remember to encourage the right behavior, and to be careful of tying money to things that could lead to shady/unwanted behavior.  

Ultimately, taking care of and engaging your team will ensure they do the same to your members. Fixing poor member experience starts with staff, and goes from there. 


Interested in attending a future Summit where you can discuss ideas like these to implement at your business? Fill out an interest form on peakemediaevents.com/summit to learn more about attending the 2023 Club Solutions Leadership Summit in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, May 24-26 at the stunning Terranea Resort.

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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