Industry benchmarks indicate that there has never
been a better time to be involved in the Health & Fitness Industry. Aging baby-boomers focused on their quality of life to include appearance; performance and health are increasing club membership. Their focus on fitness also results in an increased awareness of the benefits of exercise to their children, resulting in an increase of the youth and family membership in our facilities. These are but a couple of examples of positive growth indicators in our business.
As business opportunity increases so does the opportunity for increase in competition. This competition can be in the form of a directly competing facility or a more covert competition, that, in the mind of the prospect seeking maximum value for their discretionary dollars allocated for lifestyle enhancement.
As club owners and operators seek ways in which to enhance the value of their business to consumers many focus on the obvious and traditional, i.e. newer and more equipment, or, newer and more programs. Although it is essential that a club have a cutting-edge physical plant and programming, these types of enhancements can represent an enormous capitol outlay.
The single most critical area that has the potential to impact sales and retention is Customer Service.
The most powerful driver for new member sales is, or should be, member referrals. Obviously, members are more motivated to refer a facility that is satisfying and exceeding their expectations of service, then one in which they feel that they are just "another number."
Members are also more likely to use a facility that proactively telegraphs a message of appreciation to its' members. Studies prove that members who use a club, and enjoy their experience there, don't quit! It is the non-user member who represents the greatest negative contributor to less then desirable member retention.
The unfortunate fact is that in most facilities customer service excellence is discretionary, i.e. inconsistent due to too much dependence on the employee's individual perception of service excellence. This situation exists because there is not a customer service-training program that is systemic in nature and one that involves ALL employees.
Take a moment and complete the following 6 self-rating questions for your facility:
A "No" answer to any of the above questions indicates that there is a need for improvement in your current system.
- Does your facility have established and written core values, and is commitment to service excellence one of them?
- Does your facility have a specific training module for ALL employees on the art of establishing rapport and training on communication skills?
- Does your facility have written standards for customer service excellence customized for each department?
- Are there scheduled all-staff, or minimally inter-departmental, service excellence trainings and evaluations throughout the year?
- Has your staff collectively identified the key areas of frustration or challenge for your members and guests?
- Are there written solutions for these areas of customer frustration and are these solutions in script form so that they form a training template?
Start the season off on the right foot. Making a renewed commitment to customer service excellence now will result in happier members and a healthier bottom-line!
About the Author
Mr. Campetelle is a speaker, trainer, and consultant in the areas of customer service excellence, sales, marketing, personal training, and management systems to professionals in the health and fitness industry worldwide.
You can contact him at P.O. 272, Storrs, CT 06268; (800) 761-9792; (860) 487-5905;
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