When owning or running a club, there are some things that you can’t control (such as car parking/ new competition and council road works) and most things that you can. Worrying about what is outside your circle of influence will not get you anywhere, but focusing on those things that you can control sets great health clubs apart from normal ones. And there is a simple formula that can be applied to almost any health club around the world that can greatly affect the outcome of its success and as basic as it sounds, it’s offering a facility that is Clean, Safe and Friendly.
This might seem obvious, but is often overlooked by many clubs around the globe. Not having dust accumulate on your machines or rubbish on your floor is one thing, but the whole clean `feel’ of the club from the posters that you put on your walls, the state of the carpet and ceiling, ripped upholstery, chipped paint from equipment, the staff uniforms and presentation and the uncluttered layout of the facility are other things to consideration when making your club clean.
A safe environment- from the equipment to the prescription of exercise, is a unique selling point that our industry has. The skills and expertise of trainers should fast track customers to results without injury. In today’s day and age, with the influx of high intensity training and cross fit boxes opening up every week, clubs need to be extra vigilant to prevent injury as not only does this affect your reputation, but it also protects your revenue for those members that stop paying due to not exercising. Smart operators use technology and tracking tools to gain strong feedback (both in real time and historical) to better advise and coach for results.
For example if you are pushing someone in a HIT training session to 90% intensity, but have no way of knowing what that is then that can be seen as almost reckless. In addition to this, do you or your staff have the confidence to be able to correct bad form in your club? If someone is doing a lat pull down wrong will you go up to them and help correct it? Often some clubs take the view that this crosses to the realms of `personal training’, however in reality it sends a message to other members in the club that this is a facility that does not care about safety and subsequently results. As the old adage goes `an activity done 90% correct could be 100% wrong’.
Many clubs `claim’ that they are the `friendliest’ club in town but fail to say hello and good bye to every member who walks in and out of the gym. The health club industry needs to take a leaf out of the book of the hospitality industry where their main focus is to serve and greet customers. Of course in America where a lot of earnings are made through tips, there is no wonder the service is often tremendous, but it shouldn’t stop there. When was the last time that you were truly `happy’ with great service? Do you and your staff have the ability to start a conversation with any customer irrespective whether it’s the first time you have met them? Knowing your members names is one thing, knowing and remembering what interests them is another.
Technology can once again amplify this offering as you can easily use the technology of your membership management system to take notes on conversations so that you don’t have to remember every single name off heart. Body language and eye contact is an easy communication strategy to provide a friendly atmosphere. When you and your staff walk through the gym do they achieve eye contact with every single person that they pass? If not, try it and you will change the atmosphere in a matter of days.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication and often the simple things in life are the cheapest and most effective. Sometimes mission statements can be very complicated and hard to remember, however if you and your staff stand by a belief of being clean, safe and friendly then everything you do should centre around supporting this philosophy. You may not have the newest equipment with the expensive-to-run swimming pools, but if you are clean, safe and friendly then members should have no reason to look anywhere else.
Dave Wright is the CEO of CFM & MYZONE, a global company with over 300 staff that have served the international fitness community for over 23 years; focusing on either getting new members and/or keeping existing ones. Dave is also the owner of 11 health clubs across two continents, a board director of ukactive, founder of IOU (Independent Operators Unite), an IHRSA presenter and the creator of MYZONE. He may be contacted on Dave.Wright@cfm.net