Will your health club thrive, or will it join others that have faltered along the way? The competition for new members is intense.
We have had the opportunity to work with several clubs recently that have found their clubs faltering. They have all had a similar set of circumstances and all had fallen into the same rut of doing business.
For you owners that might feel stymied, you know what I mean. Here are some ideas to make sure your club grows and prospers:
1. Find a Niche
For any independent health club, it is best to find a niche. A health club with limited resources can efficiently serve niche markets. This entails sticking to what you do best, and becoming an expert in that field. Realize that it is not possible to be all things to all people.
Don't try and be a smaller version of your competition.
By concentrating on a more narrow market niche, you may be able to avoid a head-on collision with bigger clubs. If you are a small club offering everything from nursery to group exercise, the entry of big box clubs in your area can spell the end for your club. However, you can try to limit your offering and be the best club for this segment of the market.
Following some fairly basic rules, but with daily discipline, can be the difference between success and failure in running a health club.
"Make sure that your club takes maximum advantage of those areas that represent the strengths of small operations."
2. Think Big
One of the more common question we hear from health club owners is "How can I compete with my big competitors?" Independently operated health clubs have inherent advantages over big operations, including flexibility, ability to respond quickly, able to provide a more personalized service. Make sure that your club takes maximum advantage of those areas that represent the strengths of small operations.
3. Differentiate, Differentiate, Differentiate
Present the benefits of your club to your members and guests, highlighting the unique solutions your club offers to their problems. Avoid doing what every other club is doing; rarely do imitators succeed in the market (besides, how do you know the other guy is having success)…package your club distinctly. Establish your own unique selling position.
"Always aim for quality."
4. Never Forget
First Impression Counts
The idea is to bring the club guest up to your level of enthusiasm
passion, belief, and conviction. Strive for quality the first time around. You often do not have a second chance to make a good first impression. This entails a well-laid out club, courteous staff, and personable voice over the phone, etc. Everyone you come in touch with is potentially a member or a referral to another member because they are either impressed with you as a person or impressed with your skill at providing a specific service in your club. Make sure that you are always professional in your ways and knowledgeable about your club.
5. Build a Good Reputation
Your health club success hinges on its reputation. It is imperative that you build a good reputation for the quality of your club and support services. Remember that two things will always point you in the right direction for success: quality facility and superior service. Always aim for quality.
6. Continuous Improvement
You've heard this before, right? You either get better or you get worse. Health Club owners can't be rigid in their ways of thinking in their desire to provide the best club. You risk being left behind by the fast-paced competition if you cling to the "this is how we've always done it" kind of thinking. The health club environment today demands that you need to come up with new solutions
7. Listen To Your Members
Be market driven: listen and react to your member's needs. Members need to feel that they are important to you… because they are! When you focus on your members and gain their trust, they will not only recommend you but they will also remain loyal to you. Remember, personal recommendation and word-of-mouth are the least costly yet most effective marketing strategy for your club.
"The owners who succeed in the health club business are far-sighted and can accept things as they are and deal with them acordingly."
8. Have a Plan Of Action For Success
A health club owner should understand the power of planning. A plan of action helps you increase your chances of succeeding and can help you define your club concepts, estimate costs, predict sales and control your risks. It tells you where you are going and how to get there. Going into the health club business without a plan of action is like taking a trip without a road map.
Innovate your offerings constantly, keeping pace with technological changes. Use change as a springboard to improve your club, procedures or reputation. Innovation should also cover your operations from pricing, promotion, member service, etc. Keep your eyes open for new ways of doing things, and apply those that can improve the quality of your club and efficiency of your operations.
10. Work Smart
As a health club owner, you need to possess self-confidence, plus a never-ending sense of urgency to develop your ideas. We have seen it over and over that the owners who succeed in the health club business are far-sighted and can accept things as they are and deal with them accordingly.
They know how to manage their time, realizing the importance of balance in their lives. These owners are oftentimes quick to change directions when they see their plans are not working. More importantly, they recognize their weak points and move on to nurture alliances and acquire the skills they need to put their club on the right track.
They realize the importance of working smart, knowing that it is not the quantity of work you do, but what you do and how well you do it.
Now, go make your health club a success.
About Jim Thomas
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