"Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game." - Tony Alessandra
There’s a saying that goes something like this, “How many times are you going to bang your head against the wall before you realize it hurts?” When I think of customer service within the health and fitness industry, that saying comes to mind.
I find it fascinating that an industry that relies on it’s customers for success, still doesn’t “get” the retention part, i.e. customer service.
When I bring a new trainer in to the fold, the most important part of my employee training is customer service. I tell them, “No customer service, no customers. No customers, no job”.
It is not unusual to hear people in the industry talk about how many new members they signed up, but how often do you hear them discuss how many members they lost? My hunch is not very often. I’d surmise that it’s got something to do with monthly payments that keep coming in from folks that are no-shows. So it’s no loss to the facility, right? Wrong.
As our industry becomes more and more competitive you’re going to see success within clubs and studios that focus more on customer service and less on fancy accoutrements. When people come to my facility, it isn’t unusual to hear them say, “Yeah, once I signed a contract, not one person that worked there paid attention to me. They didn’t care if I ever came back again!” Guess what? Those people are leaving those clubs and seeking out an alternative, they’re seeking a club with customer service. Once they find the right club, these folks tell their friends and so on and so on and so on.
So ask yourself, do you value a potential member only until the contract is signed? For those of you that don’t have memberships, think about your training clients; have you become so comfortable and certain of their commitment to your facility that you have reduced your commitment to them?
Here’s what we know. A happy member/client is likely to stick around, further, he or she is likely to bring in family and friends. Think about this for a moment, when you go to a restaurant with great service (even if the food is marginal) you tell friends and family right? But if you go to a place where the food is great but the service is bad, you’re not likely to go back much less tell others about it, right? Transfer that analogy to your business. Great customer service is key!
It comes down to making every single person that walks through your door feel valued. There’s not a person in the world that doesn’t like to be recognized and made to feel important. When your members walk through your door, do you have someone there to greet them by name (and if they don’t know their name, they should ask!). Just as important as a greeter is the rest of your staff. Do they make an effort to learn the names of members or clients even if they don’t train them? If they don’t, they should. Is your staff trained to help out a member if he or she looks like they’re lost or struggling with using a piece of equipment? If they don’t they should. If there’s a problem with a member are you quick to take care of it? If not, you should.
Every member/client that becomes part of your facility should be treated the same from the time they sign up until for whatever reason they move on. Your clients ARE the reason you’re in business, don’t take it for granted or one day you may find yourself forced to learn about customer service when you’re forced to work for someone else.
Some reading suggestions:
"Up Your Service" by Ron Kaufman
"The Edge Up" – Customer Service for Small Businesses by June Van Klaveren
"Customer Service" for Dummies by Keith Bailey and Karen Leland
"Raving Fans" by Ken Blanchard
Nicki Anderson has owned and operated the award winning Reality Fitness, Inc. since 1992. Nicki is the author of Reality Fitness; Inspiration for Your Health and Well-being and numerous other publications and articles. Nicki is the health and fitness columnist for Chicago Suburban Newspapers and the family fitness columnist for eDiets. Contact Nicki at email@example.com or visit, www.realityfitness.com