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Entries in member experience (32)


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.


4 Reasons Health Clubs Should Invest in CRM Technology

It’s a fact: The primary business of every health club isn’t fitness. It’s maintaining good customer relationships by providing excellent service. 

You can have the best facility, amenities, and programs in the world, but if customers have bad experiences, they won’t stay. And sub-par service certainly won’t help generate referrals or lead to new sales. Au contraire: You’ll lose business and your reputation will suffer. 

The good news: Having a robust customer relationship management (CRM) system can help you improve the most critical aspects of your customer service program, and, thus, your members’ club experience. 

Here are four reasons CRM systems are worth the investment for health clubs. 

1. CRMs Reduce Member and Employee Frustration 

In many operational areas, clubs have grappled with inefficiencies that have frustrated employees and customers alike. In many cases, for example, simple administrative tasks that involved actual paperwork have led to major headaches as a result of human error. 

For a long time, that was the case for Beth Saroka, a 35-year industry veteran, and the owner of Onslow Fitness, in Jacksonville, NC, a 14,000-square-foot club with fitness, group exercise, and personal training offerings, a heated saltwater pool, and other amenities. 

However, in 2011, Saroka acquired ABC Financial software, and, in the process, eliminated “tons” of man-hours required for tasks that no one liked to do. 

“Whether it was a simple credit card update, a change of address, or something more involved, such as a cancellation, my staff would have to stop doing more important things— selling or servicing members—to manually fill out the paperwork,” she said. “Then, assuming it was filled out correctly, someone else had to enter all of that information into a computer. In retrospect, that was a huge waste of our time, and rarely resulted in a ‘wow’ experience for anyone.” 

Now, the CRM component of her ABC system boasts a newer feature called MYiCLUB online, a portal that allows a member to log in at any time and make account changes— even cancellations. Not only is it convenient for members, but it also ensures that the club obtains accurate information. 

Continue reading "4 Reasons Health Clubs Should Invest in CRM Technology."

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3 Ways Wearable Integration Improves Health Club Member Experience

The adoption of wearable fitness trackers is now reaching critical mass, and savvy health club owners and operators are finding ways to integrate this kind of technology into their club to benefit the member experience, contribute to ancillary sales, and boost retention. 

“By integrating wearables into the member experience, it shows the club is taking an innovative approach to fitness,” says Mike Rucker, Ph.D, vice president of technology for Active Wellness. “This is important from a marketing standpoint, because people want to believe they’re getting the latest and greatest.” 

Beyond the marketing benefits, incorporating wearable devices into the club environment can boost the member experience—when done right. Rucker will share his proven wearable integration strategies in the Thursday, June 9 webinar, “Wearables 2.0: Leveraging the Evolution of Digital Health Technology for Fun and Profit.” 

Here are three ways that wearable integration can improve the club member experience. 

1. More Personalized Workouts 

One of the upsides of wearables—particularly heart rate monitors—is they provide data that can be used to create a tailor-made experience for the individual. 

“It levels the playing field with folks with different varieties of fitness and skill levels because heart rate is a good indicator of effort,” Rucker says. “Instead of having a group exercise instructor having to guess the flow of a particular class, through the use of wearables they can figure out perceived or weighted effort of each individual, and that way everyone can get a workout more tailored to their specific ability at that time.” 

2. Additional Member Communication Touch-points   

“Wearables allow folks to be able to track their effort over time, so since most of these integrate into some form of web or mobile presence, it gives them a historic record and they can track progress,” Rucker says. “And it creates another touch-point where the club or group X instructor can interact with that individual.”  

3. Increased Opportunities to Interact with Members 

By using wearables that members can take home with them, club operators enable them to interact with the brand even when they’re not physically there. This practice helps to break down the four walls of the brick-and-mortar club.

“In many instances, these wearables now allow individuals to track their activity outside of whatever they were doing in the club, so that creates an experience where the club is touching the individual outside of the two to three hours they’re in the facility,” Rucker says. 

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CBI: 4 Steps Guaranteed to Infuse Fun into Your Health Club

While some gym-goers are all business, a growing demographic is looking to infuse some excitement into their workouts—and there are many ways club owners can up the fun factor to entertain their members.

To help you raise the pleasure quotient at your club, Club Business International spoke to three industry leaders representing brands famous for helping their clients get results while simultaneously having a genuinely entertaining time. 

Here are four steps that are guaranteed to infuse fun into your health club’s programming.  

1. Hire rock stars. Staff with lively, outgoing personalities will connect with members and that alone will make any workout more fun. “The instructor is what really helps to make the experience more fun,” said Jesper Magnusson, the CEO of Les Mills US, one of the world’s leading providers of predesigned, exercise-to-music, group fitness classes. “Given that, it’s critically important that you think about who you’re hiring. Ideally, you want to latch on to rock stars.”

2. Coach your team. Ongoing education is key for all staff and can help them find new ways to invigorate members. “In-house programs are one way to keep your staff loyal to your brand because, when you invest in them, the more vested they are in your company,” Donna Cyrus, the senior vice president of programming for Crunch Fitness, the club company that’s renowned for its novel, fun-based approach to fitness, told CBI. “And the more loyal you are to them, the more loyal they’ll be to your members.”

3. Balance change with consistency. Variation is exciting, but too much change can make learning difficult and frustrating for members. “At Les Mills, we provide consistency, coupled with variation. We refresh movements and music every three months,” Magnusson said. “Overall, we’ve found the best practice is to start with the purest form of a workout to give participants an opportunity to master the moves. This helps them feel confident and competent. Then, to keep their attention, we introduce some new elements every three to four weeks.”

4. Encourage staff to get creative. “Think outside the box,” Kass Martin, an education specialist for Zumba Fitness, LLC, the global group-exercise phenomenon based in Hallandale, FL, told CBI. “Make workouts more entertaining if you want to make them more fun.” The possibilities range from themed classes, to the names of programs, to the accessories used, to the physical environment in which activities take place. “In his Miami studio, Alberto ‘Beto’ Perez, the creator of Zumba, has a platform stage that’s adorned with lights that flash with every neon color you can imagine,” Martin said. “They flash in time with the music.”

Read the full “Put the Fun Into Fitness” article in the December issue of CBI.


Build Your Member Experience & Retention Will Follow

Retention is a team effort – one that involves the entire club staff and starts the minute the member joins.

Join us for an IHRSA webinar that will help you:

  • Learn how to structure an Integration Team
  • Create a systemized approach for onboarding new and existing members
  • Learn how to partner with key departments to assist in retention
  • Introduce member perks to help establish a consistent habit
  • Learn how to create measurable retention outcomes

You and your staff can participate in this webinar for just $39 ($79 for non-members) or subscribe to 6 consecutive webinars for only $99! (IHRSA members only).

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IHRSA webinar: sell experience vs. price

Jason Reinhardt truly believes that you can’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to sales. One just never knows who is going to buy a membership and who is only looking for a free day at the gym.

Because of this Reinhardt - who is hosting IHRSA’s next webinar, “Increase Sales by Selling the Experience vs. the Price” on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2 to 3 p.m. EST – makes sure his staff gets to know the prospective member who comes in to learn more about his facility.

Read on to see what Reinhardt will talk about in the next IHRSA webinar.


Group ex classes keep members engaged, around longer

Group exercise is huge. Anyone who has stepped in a club in the past couple years can see that. 

Now that there is a good sample size to see what the effects of more classes, more variety, and specialized classes in a group format are, club owners and manager are starting to realize the importance.

Any good club manager is sure to check out his or her clubs’ group exercise participation, percentage of members who take part, and what are the retention rates of those who enroll in classes. 

Last week IHRSA provided its members with some new numbers to check out, in IHRSA Member Retention Report, Volume 2, Number 2. And the facts show clubs exactly what they have been seeing inside their own walls—88% of group exercise members retained their membership compared to 82% of gym-only members. The risk of cancelling was 56% higher in gym-only members compared to group exercisers.

See what IHRSA members think.


Questionnaires among ways to get member feedback

Feedback is important. How else do you know if you are doing a good job, or if the club offers everything your members want?

That is why IHRSA tries to offer up as many hints, ideas and fellow members' programs that work for them.

This week Simon Gale, Colleen Braun and Michael Hoeber Jenkins chime in on what works at their respective clubs.

Q: How does your club solicit feedback from members about their club experience, and how is the feedback used?

A: We solicit feedback from our members via an annual club survey that we send out in January. We email it to members and also make it available at the front desk. The survey asks what new equipment, facility changes and new programming the client would like to see. We charge an enhancement fee each year and implement the most-requested changes. This usually includes adding new pieces of the latest equipment or improving a particular area of the club. Members are very happy with the changes and can clearly see that the money is used for their benefit.

Michael Hoeber Jenkins
Body Kinetics, LLC
Mill Valley & Novato, California

We randomly distribute a brief questionnaire asking members about their experience at the club and asking for ways in which we could improve. We also try to connect face to face and talk to our clients personally on a regular basis as they work out, participate in classes, etc. In addition, we hold a weekly conference call and review the thoughts, ideas and feedback with our staff. We then communicate changes and solutions through our monthly newsletter. I have also considered developing a club member advisory board, but have yet to do that.

Colleen Braun
Anytime Fitness  
Madelia & Springfield, Minnesota

Due to the relationships our desk staff has made with our customers, feedback tends to be given directly to them and passed on to management. We also make a point of getting out from behind the desk and interacting with customers in the lobby. Being a tennis club, we have had great success with "parent weeks" where the parents come down onto the courts and are a part of their child's lesson. We answer any questions/concerns they have about their child's progress. By getting feedback and dealing with it head on, we avoid any end of season complaints that may result in a child quitting.

Simon Gale
General Manager & Director of Instruction
Yonkers Tennis Center
Yonkers, New York



Getting feedback from members is imperative to improving

If you don't know your members aren't happy then how are you supposed to fix it?

That is one great thing about getting feedback and suggestions. Whether they are in person, through Facebook, a form on your website, e-mail or an old-fashioned suggestion box, all forms work.

The key is, however, is taking them into consideration, as a management team.

This week's Best Practices talks to three experts and gets their ... um, feedback ...  on what works best.

 Q: How does your club solicit feedback from members about any/all aspects of their club experience, and how is that feedback used?

A: WoW uses an online customer support system, whereby members can open help-tickets for any questions or issues they may encounter. The system is branded WoW but runs via software called Zendesk. Internally and to members, it is referred to as Contact Us. Contact Us tickets can be opened via kiosks located at each club and also accessed online. WoW has a dedicated team of four individuals who read each ticket. Tickets are answered within 72 hours. We have a manager who tracks “issues and trends” and reviews recurring topics with department directors or in corporate team meetings.

Stephen Roma
WoW Workout World
Brick, N.J.


A: Communication with members is innate to our philosophy of treating the whole person. We solicit, listen and respond to feedback in a multitude of ways, both formal and informal. Comment cards are available at all desks and all comments are reviewed each week by the management team. From our front desk staff to our membership team, exercise specialists to waitstaff in the restaurant, we routinely ask our members about their experience and how we can make it better. We always take their comments seriously and look for ways to effectively address concerns and celebrate and build on what is working.

Ruth Stricker
The Marsh
Minnetonka, Minn.

Our members give us feedback through Facebook, via suggestion forms, to department heads and directly to me. I work six days a week, 10 hours a day, and members often come up to me and give me their input - even when I'm working out. We then discuss each issue during our weekly staff meetings and decide what needs to be done, if anything. Sometimes members request the strangest things. In the end, it’s up to me to decide whether their request will be fulfilled.

John Chen
General Manager/ Vice President
Fitness Factory
Kaohsiung, Taiwan 





The Threat of ‘Ubiquitous’ Fitness

Hossein NoshirvaniThe world of commercial exercise is changing—in part because of low-cost clubs; in part because of the proliferation of niche studios; in part because of online exercise offerings; and, in part, suggests Hossein Noshirvani, a regular CBI Unbound guest contributor, because of wearable fitness technology. ON World, a technology research firm, estimates that 250 million such devices will be shipped, worldwide, by 2017. What does it portend for health clubs when sound information about nutrition, exercise, and healthy lifestyle behaviors, and the means to easily track one’s personal progress, become available—virtually for free? Noshirvani, the cofounder and executive vice president of Motionsoft, Inc., has some thought-provoking ideas on the subject. Read on—

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