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Entries in member experience (32)


Revisiting Club Design

Hervey Lavoie and Fred Hoffman discuss revisiting club design and how your members will react´╗┐:

Q: “How often should we revisit our club's design and layout? Also, how do members typically respond to changes in the club's layout?”

A: These days we know that “change” is a constant. This means that every club should have a forward looking, 5 year master plan and revisit it at six month intervals. Such an exercise will provide a conceptual framework for regular consideration of opportunities to improve your member experience, freshen your look and sharpen your competitive edge in an increasingly crowded club market.

... member terminations trend lower during construction of facility improvements.

A master plan will envision a sequence of high priority upgrades and allow each package of improvements to be undertaken within the conceptual context of the next wave of improvements. This approach minimizes the chances that next year’s childcare expansion will undo this year’s carpet replacement. Looking beyond current needs will always result in a more effectively allocated budget for capital improvements.

We often see member terminations trend lower during construction of facility improvements. The members want to stick around, see and enjoy the renovations. Member response to change can be influenced by how they are conceived, presented, promoted and executed. Changes need to be characterized as “improvements” and sold to the members as value propositions. Member surveys and advisory boards are effective means of gaining member participation in and support for change.

Mr. Hervey Lavoie, President
Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative
616 East Speer Boulevard; Denver, CO 80203-4213

A: I believe that owners should visit their club’s layout and design on an on-going basis. By talking to managers, staff and members, they will acquire a better understanding of how the club is functioning, and will quickly become aware of any problems or issues that affect the overall member experience.

Members want to feel at home in a club and don’t like unexpected changes to their routine.

But more importantly, a broad vision with long terms goals, careful thought, and an open dialogue with the architects and design team during the club’s planning phase will ensure both an attractive and functional design and layout. The decision to completely overhaul the club will come as a result of changes in programming, advances in equipment design and function, normal ‘wear and tear’, a changing demographic and as member’s needs evolve.

When planning to change the layout of your club, avoid negative reactions from members by communicating in advance what changes will take place and what the benefits will be. Members want to feel at home in a club and don’t like unexpected changes to their routine. (Visualize your reaction to someone rearranging your furniture without your prior knowledge or consent). Help them to adapt by providing progress updates and having staff available to explain and introduce the new layout to them.

Mr. Fred Hoffman, M.Ed., Director of International Services
The Club Synergy Group
Paris, France


Increase Prices Without Killing Retention

Q: We solely rely on cash payment from customers owing to an absence of EFT direct debit system and also because this country is largely a cash based society. We have prepaid monthly membership, which means that the customer has the option every month to bail out of the contract if he seems a discrepancy between the price-value relationship. This, in turn, makes us work very hard in the sense that we're unable to estimate our attrition rates.
How does one determine the right time to increase prices and still uphold the value proposition for the customer?

A: It was not that long ago that the US health club industry felt that the public would not accept EFT payments for membership. We began offering lower dues to members who were willing to try the EFT billing system. Within a short period of time, the majority of members were selecting this option. We continued to offer the cash payment option at a premium price.

  I recommend that you get into a practice of increasing your dues once a year. Let members know they can expect to see an increase in dues, relative to increased costs, each year. You can explain that your club prefers not to solve these increased costs with staff or service reductions.

The best time to do a dues increase is in conjunction with your busiest sales season. In the US, this is typically January when clubs experience a high volume of new memberships as people make New Year's resolutions to take better care of themselves.

My suggestion is that you consider combining these two issues into one solution. I recommend that you revise your membership pricing structure. Increase the cost of your current cash payment membership offer and offer a new EFT membership at the current dues rate. Notify all of the existing members that you are imposing a dues increase but they can choose to avoid this increase if they sign up for EFT billing.

Jill Stevens Kinney, Managing Director
Clubsource Development Partners LLC

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