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Entries in member experience (31)

Wednesday
Jun282017

How Your Gym’s Cancellation Policy Impacts the Member Experience

This post is an IHRSA Institute preview.

Today’s health club market is in a state of constant flux. It seems like every week there’s a new workout trend or must-have fitness technology, and it’s near impossible for independent clubs to keep up.  

On the bright side, your club is poised to deliver a competitive advantage that will never go out of style: a phenomenal member experience.

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Wednesday
Apr192017

At L’Usine Club, Design and Customer Service Go Hand-in-Hand 

L’Usine Club isn’t your average health club chain.

The company, which has two facilities in Paris, one in Brussels, and one in Geneva, prides itself on providing exceptional and meticulous customer service. Its highly trained staff (outfitted by Armani), premium sound system (installed by Devialet), and sleek facilities (designed by a team of architects) have attracted several global celebrities to stop in for a workout.

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Wednesday
Feb222017

What Do Members Expect from a Health Club?

When someone buys a membership to your health club, it’s crucial to meet—and ideally exceed—their expectations in order to keep them as a long-term, satisfied club member. 

Nobody knows more about health club member expectations, behavior, and retention than John McCarthy, the former executive director of IHRSA, who has authored several IHRSA publications on these topics. In particular, IHRSA’s Guide to Membership Retention: Industry Lessons on What – and What Not – To Do, which was sponsored by TechnoGym and was published exactly 10 years ago, is still incredibly relevant and valuable for any club operator, whether new or seasoned.

Here are some key excerpts from this guide...

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Wednesday
Jan252017

Health Club Member Experience Is the New Customer Service

In today’s increasingly internet- and device-addicted world, the customer experience matters more than ever—especially when it comes to health clubs.

“Fitness is no longer simply about the physical—today, it's more about how we make people feel about themselves,” says Jarod Cogswell, founder of FIT Academy and Enterprise Athlete. “Our customer service systems must reflect our sincere support, quality care, and immense desire for a relationship with our members and clients.”

Continue reading "Health Club Member Experience Is the New Customer Service."

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Monday
Dec192016

3 Simple Strategies for the Post-New Year Workout Rush

The New Year always brings a flood of new health club members. To help you retain them without overworking your staff or elbowing aside your most loyal members, we offer this trio of New Year's resolutions. 

1. Remind yourself that this is a good problem to have.

Considering how much time, energy, and resources a health club owner devotes to adding new memberships, the idea of fretting over too many new members seems crazy. And on some level, it is.

"We change our mindset and don't look at it as 'dealing with it' but as, 'this is awesome,' and we encourage it," said Maria Miller, regional programs manager for Merritt Athletic Clubs in Maryland.

Continue reading "3 Simple Strategies for the Post-New Year Workout Rush."

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Tuesday
Nov012016

Best Practices: 4 Ways to Solicit Health Club Member Feedback

The following post was written by Christine Thalwitz for our Best Practices series.

Question: Knowing the importance of listening to members, how should I solicit feedback to improve customer service?

To have a complete picture of your members’ expectations and perceptions, it’s important to make use of feedback.

1. Customer-initiated Communication

Open-ended, customer-driven systems, such as suggestion boxes, Q&A boards, and “open-door” policies are valuable because they allow members to share their thoughts spontaneously, especially when there’s an acute need to respond to them. Of course, it’s also important to make sure that your team members “own” any complaint they hear.

2. Company-prompted Contact 

Focus groups, surveys, and member advisory committees can yield highly focused information that can help you make better strategic decisions. And you can time these interactions to measure particular aspects of various products or services.

3. Unarticulated Feedback 

Also pay attention to your members’ body language, which can express volumes. Sometimes, a warm greeting or a simple apology for an inconvenience may be all that’s needed to smooth things over. It’s also valuable to track other ways that members “vote with their feet,” such as program participation and club attendance.

4. Conversations Outside the Club 

Of course, social media has made it easier than ever for customers to share their opinions. In addition to creating your own presence online, monitor other channels that your customers frequent. Whenever you encounter complaints, consider it an opportunity to respond positively and publicly.

Christine Thalwitz
Vice President of Marketing
ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers
Charlottesville, VA

Monday
Oct172016

Health Club Member Retention Is a Team Effort

The average health club has an annual attrition rate of 28.6%, according to the upcoming edition of IHRSA’s Profiles of Success.

Some attrition is inevitable, of course. Members relocate, change jobs, etc. However, chances are your club is losing at least a few members each month that you could retain with some additional effort on the part of your team. And by “team,” we mean every single employee. Each one contributes—either positively or negatively—to each of your club members’ long-term satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, with their experience at your facility.

Consider the following, which is excerpted from IHRSA’s Guide to Membership Retention, written by former IHRSA executive director John McCarthy:

Few clubs attach compensation opportunities to improvements in membership retention.

The message that almost every club’s compensation plan sends to its staff is that membership acquisition is more important than membership retention.

One of the ironies of contemporary club management is that almost every club manager gives lip service to membership retention, yet relatively few put hard cash on the line. Even more alarming is that whereas every club manager assigns two to five people to sell club memberships, and each of these people is accountable for a monthly sales quota that is the basis of their compensation, there is no equivalent allocation of responsibility, accountability or compensation for membership retention.

At many clubs if one were to ask who is responsible for membership retention, the answer would be: “Everyone.” Yet, as we know, whenever “everyone” is responsible for something, it means, in effect, that “no one” is responsible.

If membership retention is as important as everyone affirms, and if it is measurable, and if it is a responsibility that can be allocated, then there is no reason not to provide financial incentives to those who are accountable for improvements in this arena. 

Accountability continues to be the missing link in the way most clubs approach this issue. In this respect, membership retention stands in the sharpest possible contrast to the way in which most clubs approach membership acquisition in which accountability is standard practice.

The bottom line with respect to membership retention is ownership. Who owns this opportunity/challenge? Until someone senior in the organization takes ownership of this opportunity, and until compensation opportunities are attached to it, and until budgets reflect a commitment to success in this arena, creative solutions and significant improvements will continue to be unlikely.

The front desk is on the front line for combating attrition.

A friendly, welcoming, hospitable and efficient front desk is an important piece of the membership retention puzzle. Conversely, a cold, unfriendly, unwelcoming or hostile front desk can be a major factor in accelerating membership attrition.

Whereas a warm and welcoming front desk is no guarantee of rising retention rates, a cold, impersonal and hostile front desk is almost certainly a leading indicator of a club that is destined to have higher membership attrition. If there is any single litmus test for the personality of a club and, in particular, for the personality of a club’s general manager, it is the hospitality (or lack thereof) of the club’s front desk.

Continue Reading "Health Club Member Retention Is a Team Effort."

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Wednesday
Jul062016

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.

Continue reading "Create a Five-Star Locker Room Experience with These 4 Tips."

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Thursday
Jun302016

Top 3 Strategies to Improve Your Health Club’s Group Exercise Experience

Perhaps the biggest takeaway for health clubs from the increasing prevalence of boutique fitness studios is that the market is hungry for personalized group exercise experiences. 

Unfortunately, the group X program is frequently an overlooked aspect of running a successful fitness facility. But, when managed properly it can increase revenue, referrals, and member retention, making it a key element to the club’s overall success. 

Marisa Hoff, general manager for Stevenson Fitness in Oak Park, CA, will teach health club owners and operators strategies to make the most out of their group X program in IHRSA’s Thursday, July 14 webinar, "Engage & Retain with Innovative Group X Programs." 

Here are Hoff’s top three things club owners should do to improve their group X experience. 

1. Provide Ongoing Member Experience Training for Staff 

Of course, all great group X programs are contingent on hiring great staff—but the work doesn’t stop there. 

“You need to continue to work with them to ensure they’re doing everything they can to create a memorable experience in the classroom,” Hoff says. “During the webinar, I’ll offer lots of tips and tools owners can use to train their staff to do so.” 

2. Make Each Group X Format a Unique Experience 

Many of your club’s group X classes may take place in the same room, but that doesn’t mean they should look or feel the same. Differentiating between classes in this way helps to create a sense of community among members, which the club can foster using social media groups. 

“At Stevenson Fitness, we try to create communities in each format, and one way to do that is to create smaller social media groups” Hoff says. “We also make each format its own special experience; for Zoomba we dim the lights, boot camp is about the grid. We use lighting and different techniques, like candles, to make each format feel totally different from the next so it’s not just one big empty classroom.” 

3. Listen to What Your Members Are Telling You 

“Always listen to your members and engage with them to get their opinion and feedback on a regular basis,” she says. “What owners think members want and like isn’t necessarily the case—you have to continue to survey; that will allow you to keep your programming fresh and cater to the needs of the members.” 

Hoff’s webinar will go in-depth on each of these elements and more. The webinar’s learning objectives include: 

  • Identify the key factors to look for when hiring and interviewing potential instructors.
  • Explore the importance of the group exercise manager's role and the primary responsibilities for that position.
  • Gain insight into how to best design a studio or classroom.
  • Discover important elements for schedule design and balance.
  • Obtain tips on how to design systems in order to maximize the role of the instructor in increasing member engagement.  

“Attendees will leave with some very tangible practices for what to do from hiring to making sure you’re doing ongoing training with your staff,” she says. “I’ll also share actionable strategies that we use at Stevenson Fitness to create a memorable class experience with group X and make sure we keep our programming fresh and innovative. People will come away with tangible strategies they can implement right away—they’re not expensive and the're easy to implement.”

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Wednesday
Jun152016

4 Steps to Deliver a Service Culture in Your Health Club

Over the last decade, the number of health club member experience survey tools have proliferated. But, no matter which results you choose to examine, the same five terms keep popping up among respondents who are loyal to a club: 

  • Friendly staff
  • Plenty of equipment
  • Variety of classes/programs
  • Clean facility
  • Good customer service  

“Particularly in the health and fitness industry, we can find individuals to perform most of the specific job duties required—that talent is out there,” says Brent Darden, CEO of Brent Darden Consulting. “We all know how important it is to hire positive people who enjoy customer service and embrace that challenge, and the greatest reason people don’t do that is they don’t have a system in place to make sure it’s happening.” 

Darden will explain how health club owners and operators can such a system in his Thursday, August 4 IHRSA Institute session, “Member Retention, Experience & Engagement.”

Here some of are Darden’s steps to delivering a service culture:

  1. Make customer service a central part of your club’s core value system
  2. Recruit talent based on their ability to deliver service. (This is much more important than any technology training they might have.)
  3. Provide onboarding education and continuing education for employees so they understand and are constantly reminded about the importance of the member experience and how to make it happen.
  4. Set up a reward and recognition system that is specifically tailored to recognizing people that are delivering on those customer experience values. 

In his session, Darden will also help attendees learn how your organization can become more customer-centric and succeed at building member loyalty; discover the importance of utilizing Net Promoter Scores® and member feedback to deliver great customer experiences and gain the competitive advantage; and develop strategies to help your staff engage and retain members and explore practical approaches to deliver a service culture.

Learn more about the IHRSA Institute, August 2-5 in Chapel Hill, NC.