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Create a Five-Star Locker Room Experience with These 4 Tips

Locker rooms are one of the most relaxing and rewarding areas of your club. At the same time, they’re a labor-intensive challenge for you and your staff—and that’s putting it mildly. Once simple, utilitarian changing rooms, they’ve evolved into a defining part of most clubs, the room that members tend to visit first ... and last ... and, often, in between.

Village Health Club, Ocotillo, Chandler, AZ

“Our research indicates that members want their locker room to be a place where they can escape and relax for 30 minutes,” said Alan Leach, the area general manager and head of sales and marketing for the West Wood Clubs, a group of three premium facilities in Dublin, Ireland. “It should be an experience—like staying at a Ritz-Carlton. Our members expect these spaces to be something special.”

Creating a five-star locker room involves much more than keeping the floors clean or stocking enough towels; these mundane housekeeping tasks must, of course, be performed diligently, over and over again. But a closer look reveals that a number of other factors play a seminal role. Among them: a club mission and culture that emphasize consistent attention, a sophisticated tracking system, solid communication among staff, accurate measurement of results, and employee accountability.

1. Train All Staff to Take Pride in Locker Room Upkeep

As in any service organization, clubs must commit to, emphasize, and own the pursuit of customer satisfaction—starting at the top. Because locker rooms are an integral part of a member’s interaction with the club, the entire staff—not just the housekeeping and maintenance teams—must recognize that their upkeep and operation are ongoing group responsibilities.

“When hiring staff, we clearly communicate the importance of maintaining a clean, organized, and well-stocked locker room,” said Ken Brendel, a regional general manager for Active Wellness, LLC, based in Sausalito, CA. In all, the company oversees some 120 locker rooms at the 60 corporate and community fitness facilities it manages. “Every manager and team member is expected to maintain these areas by doing such things as closing locker doors, picking up dirty towels, and wiping down countertops, as part of their everyday duties.”

Active Sports Club, Petaluma, CA

2. Diligently Track and Communicate Tasks, Issues

Due to the need for repetitive tasks, along with regular attention, savvy clubs use a variety of paper and/or software systems—e.g., daily checklists, service logs, and preventative-maintenance databases—to stay on top of things. The West Wood Clubs, which serve a total of approximately 22,500 members, utilize the Club Vitals software program, for instance, which allows staff to take note of issues, track responses, and document solutions.

“After logging a problem, the maintenance team is immediately alerted, on walkie-talkies, about the need to inspect the situation,” Leach said. “If it’s something that can be fixed—it takes precedence over everything else.”

At Ocotillo Village, a Village Health Clubs & Spas facility, weekly inspections are conducted of spa heaters, steam generators, chemical feeders, and laundry equipment to identify deterioration, gauge life expectancy, and plan for timely replacements. Quarterly preventative-maintenance service is conducted on larger equipment.

3. Seek Out Client Input—Then Act Upon It

In a service business, a customer’s perception represents reality for a company, so it’s important to seek out, and act upon, client input. Although many clubs report that members frequently volunteer comments about locker rooms, a formal evaluation process seeks feedback from everyone and demonstrates management’s receptivity.

At the West Wood Clubs, two member-satisfaction monitors—the Medallia and Listen 360 Net Promoter Score software programs—have alerted the staff to, among other things, the critical importance of keeping the rooms spotless.

West Wood Club, Clontarf Road, Dublin, Ireland

“With the Net Promoter Score, we became aware that our locker facilities were an issue,” Leach said. “And, even so, members were spending, on average, 40% of their time in the club in the locker rooms and spas. They regarded it as their ‘treat’ at the end of a workout.”

4. Remember You Can’t Please Everyone

A final thought: Each club operator that CBI spoke to conceded that pleasing everyone was nearly impossible. “Some people love the new soaps, and some hate them; some like the remodel, and some don’t,” said Kevin Schofield, the operations director at the Village Health Clubs & Spas’ Camelback Village location. “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please everybody all of the time.”

Joe Melendez, the operations director at Village Health Club & Spas’ Ocotillo Village facility, agreed. “Since members have their own tastes and preferences, one of our challenges is finding just the right fit for most of them, while still contributing to that individual experience.”

Read the full article on locker room experience in the July issue of CBI.

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