In this four-part series, we’re defining the member experience and how it affects your health and fitness club business. We’ve already explored how programming contributes to member experience, and today we’re going to talk about your staff. Check back with the ABC Blog to follow these articles through April.
The success of your club depends on its ability to meet member expectations. They need compelling reasons to pay their monthly dues and spend their valuable time in your facility. What will make them choose your club over other available options? Your people — and the way they connect with club members — are an important part of the answer.
Who Are Your People?
Consider your entire member-facing team. They’re the face of your business, interacting one-on-one on a daily basis and representing your brand. Their relationships with your clients can make or break your business. That’s why it’s so important to choose, train, and enable them thoughtfully. Each smile, conversation, and helpful answer they share contributes to the experience members have in your club.
Building a Team
Your staff members don’t work in isolation. They’re part of a team. Not only do they have to build relationships with club members, but they also have to interact with each other. When you have a strong team, the individual members support each other and their different functions within the club. This cooperative attitude carries over to their interactions with members.
An important aspect of team building is staff training. With high turnover in club staff (including an average of 50% sales team turnover in a given year), taking the time to align your team with company brand and relevant skills, approach, and talking points to reinforce your unique value proposition is key.
Bernie LeCocq, owner of Chicago’s River North Gym, shares with us how a sense of community develops in his gym. He encourages his team to engage with both club members and each other, pointing out that “once our team is built, then they’re ready to start engaging with members.”
This is especially true for those who guide members through the onboarding process. Put them in the shoes of the new member and walk them through the process. Role-play common and challenging questions. Let them shadow your best team members. The more comfortable your staff feels and the better they understand the process, the more empowered they are to meet the needs of your members.
Frictionless Sales and Onboarding
Your staff starts to influence member experience the moment a prospect walks in the door, when a consumer is choosing between your club and the one down the street. By the time a prospect starts a conversation, they’ve already made several decisions that take them one step closer to a sale. This is why it’s so important to have an engaging team in place to greet them and the right technology available to effectively close the sale.
In many ways, finalizing the sale is the easiest part of the process from your team’s perspective. You don’t see the hours people spend exploring and comparing their options. The real challenge is reinforcing to members the reasons why they chose your club. This begins in the traditional onboarding process of learning about the new members’ goals, touring the facility, and offering a personal training session as a gift.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this model, and health clubs have used it successfully for many years. However, a one-size-fits-all strategy can feel impersonal, especially if your staff conducts the process in a robotic, inflexible manner. A better approach is to customize the onboarding process and capitalize on this unique opportunity to create a connection with new members and make them feel welcome in your community.
A Personal Touch
How your staff interacts with customers is a major contributing factor in their decision to continue paying their monthly dues and consider the additional services that boost your bottom line. They can always find a cheaper facility or online workout plan, but they will choose your club if they have an emotional connection with the people who work there. Conversely, members will leave even the best facilities if they feel ignored or don’t perceive that their needs are being met.
The first step in building a genuine staff-member relationship is to discover what the customer wants. It’s impossible to give them what they want, when they want it, and how they want it if you don’t know what they’re hoping to do. Encourage your staff to actively listen to new members to identify their goals. Then they can customize a plan that helps them truly engage with members on a regular, repeating basis to reinforce the value of membership.
With carefully selected technology, you can make this process of creating a positive, meaningful member experience even more effective. Your club management solution is the ideal tool for recording and storing member wants, needs and goals. You can retrieve and manipulate this data to create personalized communications.
Set aside time to research member engagement and look for trends in their service usage. Then create tailored messages and smart recommendations for members. With a few clicks, you can send an email announcing a new class to each member who expressed interest or share video tips about how members can take advantage of everything the club has to offer.
Supporting Your Staff
None of the above is possible without a well-trained team of people who enjoy what they do. It’s easier to smile and engage in friendly conversation with customers when you like coming to work. Showing your staff you respect and value them serves as a model for how you want them to interact with your members.
One of your responsibilities as the boss is to give staff members what they need to perform their jobs. Common feedback from employees is that supervisors don’t respect their time. If you have to call a meeting—and you likely will at some point—make sure it’s necessary. There’s no need to meet in person if you can send the information in an email.
Make sure you have enough people scheduled to keep the club operating efficiently. When drafting weekly schedules, consider not only what the organization needs but also what the staff wants. Lean staffing may look good on the balance books, but it affects your bottom line in other ways. It leads to increased employee turnover, so you spend more of your resources looking for and training new team members. It also reduces the quality of the service you provide your members, which can lead to a drop in membership.
Incorporating employee input is also key. Provide an in-person and anonymous forum for staff to share feedback and suggestions on how to better serve the member base. Strive to use the data you get from integrated staff and member management tools to gain a 360-degree view of the business and automate processes so your staff can concentrate on more important tasks. Find out who runs the classes with the best fill rate, which team member signs up the most prospects, and who sells the greatest number of services at the front desk. Ask them to share their secrets with the rest of the team.
When your people have the data and the tools they need to support your clients, your team can provide a memorable and positive member experience. Find out how our team at ABC Financial and our comprehensive club management solutions can help your business, and put our years of experience in the industry to work.