The health and fitness industry has been growing significantly in the past few years, and people’s interest in wellness shows no signs of stopping. Gyms, yoga centers and fitness clubs have been multiplying as a consequence, and the space has become quite crowded – and increasingly competitive for operators in the business.
In the past, it was enough for a gym to provide customers with good-quality equipment, competent trainers and a pleasant environment – but today this is not enough anymore. As the competition grows, the quality of the customer service has become a differentiating factor for fitness facilities. But have gyms caught up with the changing customer expectations?
Here are three common mistakes that can make even the most loyal gym affiliate run away, sprinting his or her way to a competing establishment. Are you guilty of any of these?
Your staff is not focused on the customer
Is your staff there to help customers or to work out? Too often staff members at fitness clubs see their job as a paid training session, making it hard for members to find the help they need.
Picture this scene: a potential customer enters a new gym. She looks around for an employee, but isn’t sure who is working there, as no one wears uniforms or nametags. After waiting for a few minutes, she rings the bell on the counter. An employee arrives at the desk. The customer wants to register to a morning dance course, and asks for more information. The employee responds: “All the information is on the website. If you go online, you can click on “register” and register to the course yourself”. Sounds familiar?
To provide good service, it’s not enough to just be there, greet customers “hello” and hand them a sheet with information – or send them to your website. First impressions often determine whether a customer will be back, or won’t – and showing that you don’t know much about your courses, or don’t care to make your customer’s life easier, is bound to make a bad impression. Make sure to train your staff to be present, friendly, helpful, and ready to give customers all the information and support they might need.
Your customers are familiar with overbookings and double bookings
Most active people try to schedule their week so they can get some training incorporated in their busy everyday lives. This means that when they have decided to take a class, have a session with a personal trainer or just exercise at the gym, this is the time they have cleared for that activity.
Too often, due to manual errors -or because of mistakes caused by separate software systems that don’t communicate with each other– appointments get lost, and rooms and trainers get overbooked or double-booked. When this happens, the experience is ruined for the customer who may have to reschedule, or to work out in an overcrowded gym class.
As people’s lives only get busier and time is an increasingly scarce commodity, chances are your customers won’t be forgiving when you waste their time because of organizational mistakes.
Do away with errors by implementing a modern software solution that enables you to see all the information –bookings, availability, pricing, offers, and members- in real time, on one platform. The ideal solution should also be omni-channel, offering bookings from your website and customer app out of the box. It is very important that the online and app bookings are managed by the same system you use in your physical locations. On the one hand, by using one, unified platform you don’t risk mistakes caused by inconsistent data; on the other hand, a single system enables you to display real-time availability of resources on all your touchpoints, which means better service for your customers, and fewer empty slots for you and your trainers.
You believe all members are the same
In the past few years, boutique fitness studios have been eroding the market share or big-box gym and fitness club chains – and part of the reason for this trend is the friendlier, more familiar atmosphere in these smaller establishments. SoulCycle, the biggest chain in the USA offering (only!) spinning classes, manages to fill its courses despite being more expensive than its competitors. Its secret? SoulCycle, like many other chains of boutique studios, offers a more personalized fitness experience than traditional gyms, and has managed to build a community of people sharing a passion.
Do you try to create a bond between your customers and your fitness club, or do you treat your customers as if they were all the same?
People increasingly expect personalized experiences from the businesses they patronize, and fitness clubs are no different. Make your loyal customers feel acknowledged and special. Greet them by name, try to remember what classes they like and remark on their progress. Personalization doesn’t only have to rely on your staff’s memory; technology can help. Implement a customer app that is linked to customer subscription information, and send loyal members personalized information and offers. You could for example send a discount on yoga mats to all participants in your hatha yoga courses; alert customers of a new type of course they may be interested in, based on their tastes; or send loyal customers a voucher for a free smoothie on their birthday.
How you do it is up to you, but one thing is certain: if you treat each member the same, and don’t differentiate between the person who attends all your yoga classes and the one who spends all her time lifting weights, you risk losing them both. Get to know them, understand their needs, and make it personal.
As every business knows, it’s six to seven times more expensive to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. Health & fitness is a highly competitive market; don’t let these common mistakes lose you customers, and erode your profits. Read our e-book “5 factors to consider when selecting the best reservation software” to discover how the right booking system can help you improve your customer service, and increase retention.