The New Customer Experience

January 26, 2012

By: Sal Corrente
Regional Sales Director

It’s that time of the year. The time of year so many health club operators have been waiting for – ‘the busy season’. For many, it’s the make or break time that you rely on to drive your membership numbers up to a level that provides growth and profitability for the remainder of the year.

There are a number of critically important questions you should be asking yourself as you and your business rise to the occasion of meeting the needs of new clients. First and foremost, you need to challenge yourself to truly understand how prepared your business is to deliver a great initial experience. To do that, ask yourself when was the last time you went through your own new prospect experience or had a secret shopper go through it for you? It is critical for you to understand how your valuable potential new members were treated. How were they greeted? What steps did your staff take to make them feel welcomed in your club? How did your staff build value with the prospect? Be as objective as possible and answer the following question honestly:

If I were someone looking for a health club would I spend my hard earned money with you? Better yet, would I recommend the experience to my friends and neighbors?

If the answer is no, you have some work to do and it starts with being more engaged day to day with your staff. They need to have expectations set. They need to understand exactly what you expect the prospect experience to be. They need to hear what you see as the value of your club versus the competition. They need to receive regular training, so that your approach and belief system is ingrained in them. Remember, it’s your business and you need to be the one to set the bar high for a great initial experience with everyone who walks through your door.

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If the answer is yes, my suggestion and challenge is not to relax. Keep working hard to hone the experience. Engage with a secret shopper program to get continuous feedback. Use that feedback to re-train your staff. Make sure that your entire staff is focused on a great initial experience. Whether it’s a front desk employee, sales person, personal trainer, cleaning and maintenance staff or group exercise instructor, they need to know what role you expect them to play in helping the club gain new members. Ultimately, their jobs depend on your ability to grow your membership base, so they can and should be an important part of the process.

It seems simple and straight forward – every club owner knows that getting new members is the lifeblood of their business. We also all know that this is the time of year when that happens at a higher rate than at any other time. What often separates strong clubs from their competition is the fanatical attention they pay to the details of the new prospect experience. The question for you to be asking yourself is the initial experience in my clubs viewed by my prospects? The answer you get might surprise you AND it will tell you the work that you have to do to make it truly great!