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Entries in customer service (15)


IHRSA 2014 Customer Service & Retention track: the service within us

Make sure you are showered and look your best if you are heading to Frank Ancharski’s educational session on Wednesday, March 12, at 9:45 a.m., at the IHRSA 33rd Annual International Convention & Trade Show.

During the 90 minutes, “Unlock the Service Within Us,” part of the Customer Service & Retention track, presenter Frank Ancharski is going to ask those in attendance to look at themself in the mirror. He wants everyone, himself included, to discover their shortcomings in order to become better at what they do.

Of course the mirror isn’t literal. However, he said the self-discovery could be emotional.

For more on this session from the Customer Service & Retention track, read on.


How to Lose—or Keep—Members

© Faysal Farhan - Fotolia.comMany clubs lose members—in spite of themselves––as industry attrition rates clearly show. In this installment of CBI Unbound, Patricia Amend, who’s been a club member and a writer and editor for CBI for many years, offers some pointed suggestions for clubs in an effort to help them keep their most loyal members.

Click here for more.

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Sweat the Small Stuff

By Dr. Michael R. Mantell

Back in 1988, I wrote a book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: P.S. It’s All Small Stuff. What I didn’t realize then was that—while I was right for creating a calm, peaceful, healthy life—NOT sweating the small stuff was wrong for creating a business.  Read on and see what I mean.

If Ken Blanchard, author and business consultant, belonged to your gym, would he be able to call your customer service program an exemplary model that creates what he calls raving fans?

Do you know what I mean by your customer service program?  Do you know what raving fans are? Do we need to talk about the lifeblood of your club, gym, or spa?

It’s good, old-fashioned customer service and yes, in today’s competitive fitness world, with every imaginable alternative—from free outdoor boot camps, to no-contract, no-commitment, low-cost slimmed-down gyms, to free classes at fitness clothing stores—it’s time to do more than just put a smile on front desk personnel, which is there until you turn away.

Consistency, answering the phone, being a great communicator, doing your fitness research, and even tracking the success of Groupon sales may all be necessary, but they are not sufficient when it comes to putting on the full-court press in terms of powerful, business-growing know-how-WOW. 

It’s been said that a good salesperson can sell someone a gym membership, but it’s the quality of every detail, every nuance, every repair in your club that sends your members home feeling thrilled—chatting and posting about how great their gym is, and coming back as raving fans with friends to join their gym.

How do the top-tier pros do it? How do they form these business-boosting relationships? Here is what I’ve found that they do: they sweat the small stuff!

1. Never ever be satisfied with “customer satisfaction.”  If they are satisfied, then you don’t be.  Think instead, “they are just satisfied.” To leap ahead of your competition, you want them to be “ravingly satisfied” and entirely devoted to your gym and the services you offer.  Only by over-offering will this happen.

2. Make your entire focus on your guests—oops, I mean members.  In fact, find out what your members focus on and make their focus your driving force—one that you never ever take your mind off of. Don’t rely on anything short of a well-communicated system and a rock-solid “member is king” organizational culture to insure this unrelenting focus, so that every member of your staff is passionate about “the king’s focus” as well.

3. Ignore the unmistakable power of perception at your own business peril.  If you aren’t obsessed with the smallest details of your gym, someone else reading this will be obsessed with the smallest details of his/her gym. And guess where your guests—ugh, there I go again, I mean members—will be working out next week?  Stained carpet? Burnt out light bulb? Exercise machine computer display acting weird? Toilet not working properly? Weights left lying around instead of properly stacked? Sloppy counter? Old, torn magazines strewn around?  Trainers not consistent in delivering a message of friendliness?  

These telltale signs of “broken windows” are everywhere except at the finest gyms. If you read this and feel defensive, annoyed, bothered that you have to pay attention to “silly details” and pesky, complaining, unhappy, or “just satisfied” members, I suggest the fitness industry will leave you in its dust. If all you care about is sales numbers, you are a relic. 

To become a raving fan of your own gym, fix every “broken window” you can find every day, sweat the small stuff, and you’ll watch not only the numbers grow but the spirit of your gym grow as well. 

Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D., earned his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania after completing his M.S. degree in clinical psychology at Hahnemnann Medical College where he wrote his thesis on the psychological aspects of obesity. He is a writer, speaker, and fitness expert for the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and a regular contributor to the “San Diego Fitness Psychology” column for The Sporting Club in La Jolla, California, where he is a member of the Sports Medicine Team, specializing in fitness psychology.


The Retention Program No One Knows About

 Colleen Kennedy, our trusty resource and director of membership at the Houstonian Club in Houston, Texas, is addressing an important topic today on CBI Unbound: Member Appreciation. The Houstonian Club offers members exceptional service, luxurious amenities, and top-knotch equipment and training, however, they also make sure that every member feels like they're part of something more. The Houstonian Cares program does just that.



 “A birthday so grand – the best one yet.

Oh! I think my eyes are wet.”

-from a member after celebrating her 80th birthday

With so much competition for member revenue and high quality employees, health and fitness clubs must find unique ways to differentiate themselves in order to become leaders in their fields. At The Houstonian Club, we have developed a special program where retention is the by-product, but was never the goal: Houstonian Cares.

The Program

All club members have a variety of pivotal points and occurrences in their lives; usually positive, but unfortunately, occasionally negative. When our members have special days or special needs, our club acknowledges and responds. For example, a basket full of baby gifts will be delivered to a newborn’s home. In times of need, meals are delivered where and when appropriate. Staff members visit club members in hospitals, attend funerals and send balloons in celebration. We provide massage therapists and kitchen chefs to support our team of members in the nation’s largest annual multiple sclerosis fund-raising bike ride.

The Operations

Few know about Houstonian Cares because we do not publicize the program. But over the years, by word of mouth and experience, club members have learned that, when positive and negative events happen in their friends’ lives, the club will respond when someone brings us the information. We have a designated Service Manager in our Membership Department who is charged with administration of the Houstonian Cares program. The most important concern is the privacy of our members, and our management team met with legal counsel before initiating the program to understand how we can let members know we care without violating their privacy. We never disclose private information. Instead, we simply customize a gift, meal or flowers to show our concern for their circumstances.

The Results

Can The Houstonian Club’s annual 96.54% retention rate be specifically tied to our Houstonian Cares program? Of course not.  But certainly the program is part of the club’s vision and mission statements. The joyous e-mails, tearful phone calls, and emotional letters we receive attest to the fact that publicized or not, the Houstonian Cares program is well appreciated and very worthwhile. Plus, the program has had an additional benefit in the bonding between club ownership and staff. Imagine how good employees feel when they know that their employer demonstrably goes the extra mile in caring for and about its customers.

The Houstonian Club is not inexpensive, in terms of initiation fees and monthly dues, and we attract a clientele looking for something special, beyond programs, facilities and staff.  Houstonian Cares offers our members that extra something – a caring atmosphere that demonstrates more than merely an appreciation for membership dollars.


The Keys to Building Community

By Jon Feld

In a recent post, I mused (briefly) about the choices IHRSA makes for its International Convention & Trade Show keynote speakers. While I mentioned my discussions with CEO Tony Hsieh, author of Delivering Happiness, I never really delved into my thoughts about why he was uniquely qualified to present at the event.

In comparing the ways in which Zappos and clubs serve their customers, Hsieh  says, “In a lot of ways, we built our brand around customer service through the phone. With the face-to-face contact that clubs enjoy, you have a bigger advantage in creating a personal, emotional connection than through telephone or e-mail.”

In that previous post, I discussed the passion most entrepreneurs share for what they do and for those they serve. Hsieh takes it a step further with Delivering Happiness. Certainly, creating the best possible experiences for customers is the driving force behind what Zappos does and what club operators seek to achieve. But Hsieh’s vision has taken root and he’s beginning to achieve what we in the club industry already have: a community growing around his service ideals.

One point he makes in the book is that you need to have the mindset that you will “seek to change the world.” And that point has taken life beyond his pages. The Delivering Happiness Movement has raised funds for charity and more. “We wanted the book to be the spark that caused Delivering Happiness to take on a life of its own,” Hsieh related. “We’ve heard that there are physical communities around the world and we want to continue to build out multiple communities online.”

In my view, that’s the strongest link Hsieh has to the club industry: He’s found a way to spread the gospel and have a positive impact on lives outside his business. It’s a goal we’ve spoken to with regard to reaching the deconditioned and other markets for several years now. To that end, his presentation may unlock some secrets to building community that we can put to work for the long term.

Check out the full interview with Tony Hsieh in the March issue of CBI , available next week.

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