The fitness industry is a relationship business. Here learn how to navigate current member expectations and how to deliver great customer service.
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted procedures and has forever changed what members expect when visiting fitness centers. Because of this, clubs are now navigating new expectations and how to deliver the best customer experience.
On the latest installment of the Thought Leaders roundtable series, panelists discussed how today’s consumers’ expectations are a bit of a paradox.
“Members want seamless entry; they want ease of use,” said Scott Morris, the vice president of operations for Crunch Franchise. “But at the same time, they want us to engage with them. They want to hear from us and I think they want us to hear them. It’s a combination of, on one hand, engaging and on the other, ease of use and ease of access to the gyms.”
Ann Reeder, the general manager of Westlake Athletic Club and panelist, said it’s important for your staff to know the members well enough to know who wants to talk and who simply just wants to say hello and go workout. She noted it’s always important for your staff to be friendly, but knowing members will allow you to deliver the best customer service for that specific person.
A great way to get to know your members is to create various touchpoints during their onboarding.
Khaled Elmasri, the regional director of Texas Family Fitness and panelists, said the day after members sign up, a handwritten note from the general manager or fitness manager goes out with VIP passes. Three days later, a welcome call goes out from the general manager. Ten days later the fitness manager calls to check-in on their experience. Thirty days later, the GM calls again.
Elmasri said in his eyes they have 30 days to give members the best experience possible so they don’t cancel. Fellow panelist Lisa Gorsline, the president of Corpus Christi Athletic Club, echoed this.
“Statistics show that 72% of people who stop using our club are new members,” said Gorsline. “It’s important we engage the new members within the first 90 days. We have to integrate them in the club in the first 90 days or our chances of renewal go down even further. What we try to do is anything we can do to drum up a conversation. Exercise is usually not fun to the deconditioned market, so we try to find ways to make it fun.”
Gorsline added that as operators you’ve got to make your clubs more than a place to come and workout. “We need to make it a community,” she said. “We need to make it comfortable and we need to do things outside of working out so they have a reason to come to our club and have fun.”
Other ways to improve customer experience that were discussed on the panel included:
- Have general managers work a shift at the front desk to see where the club can improve.
- Have training processes in place for staff so everyone is on the same page and delivering the same experience.
- Ask your frontline staff for feedback on how things are going. No one knows your members better than them.
- Use offerings like MXM to survey members.
- Make processes like cancelations as seamless as possible.
All in all, how members feel about your association, how they interact with it and the value they attribute to it is vital. Ensuring you are putting them first will take you far.
“We are in a relationship business with a side of fitness,” said Catherine Porter, the executive director of Carle Health & Fitness Center. “Remember it in that order. People first, then ‘by the way you can come here and workout too.’ There are multiple definitions for value so always be on the pursuit to find what value is for those members and then work to deliver it.
Learn more by watching the full roundtable below.