“Welcome to my home” – Retention Training for your Team


15 Oct “Welcome to my home” – Retention Training for your Team

I like to believe that the majority of owners and managers have a good grasp on the importance of providing good service to their members, its impact on retention and, thus, their club’s overall success. Great customer service definitely starts at the top but if it does not reach your members through your front line staff, quality service will never be attained. In light of this, I would like to share a different perspective with you regarding customer service and the impact it has on retention.

A business provides a service or product that has value to its customers. There is an exchange taking place. On the surface, it can be a very simple exchange. But there are often a tremendous number of intangibles that are part of the exchange. These intangibles are very important factors in the customer’s decision about whether to continue with the exchange in the future.

What are you exchanging with your members? State-of-the-art equipment, convenient hours and location, quality instruction, a clean facility … these are the basics of the exchange. However, if a club opened up next door and offered the same for less, you would lose members. This is happening everywhere everyday.

Intangibles are the most valuable part of our business and more importantly, they keep your members from taking their business elsewhere. The old saying that people will easily walk away from a business but not a relationship is very true in the fitness industry.

The intangibles that tie a member to your club are very much relationship based. These include
 Friendships
 Socialization opportunities
 Personal interaction
 A feeling of belonging
 Being wanted and cared for
 Feeling good and secure when they are in the club

I do not know of another industry in which these intangibles are more important and seemingly so easy to deliver. However, without the day in and day out cooperation and support of your entire team, the successful delivery breaks down.

Obviously, some of your staff is more tuned in to good customer service than others so to get everyone on board it takes consistent coaching and training. One coaching method I have seen used with great success is to get your team to think of your club as their home. How would they treat a guest in their home? It goes like this:

If I were to come to your house…
When I came to the door you would welcome me. If you knew me you would use my name. If you did not know me, you would introduce yourself and ask what my name was.
Does this happen at your club?

You would ask, “How are you doing?” If you knew something particular was going on in my life, or I had a certain area of interest, you would ask about it:
How was your vacation?
How are you feeling?
How is your spouse feeling?
How is the knee?
How ‘bout those Tar Heels/Yankee’s/Patriots …
Does this happen at your club?

You would ask, “Is there is anything I can get for you?” In a club setting, this translates into: “Is there anything I can do or show you?”
“Are you sure?”
“If you change your mind, be sure to let me know.”
Does this happen at your club?

I am now in your house, your responsibility for me is not over:
Let’s say I am in the living room, do you stay in the kitchen (this is a club’s back office or fitness desk) and leave me alone while I am visiting? Maybe for a little while, however, at least some of the time you will be with me, your guest.

You would talk to me during my visit:
Maybe small talk:
How’s it going?
Good job!
Nice form!
Cool outfit!
New shoes? How do you like them?
Is that a new haircut? I like to be noticed.
Maybe something more serious:
Have you seen it done this way?
Is it time to get you in for a tune-up?
Are you getting the results you are looking for?
Need a spot?
Or maybe just a nod and a smile. But, you would never fail to acknowledge me!
Does this happen at your club?

My visit is over and I am leaving your house …
You would say goodbye and thank me for coming.
You would ask me to come back real soon so that we could do this again.
Does this happen at your club?

When I have left your house …
Do I feel as though you cared about whether or not I had a good time?
How will I feel about coming back for another visit?
Did I feel welcome?
Do I feel that you were a good host?

Make the “If I were to come to your house …” concept a part of your next staff meeting. The most valuable part of your club is the relationships you and your team build with your members.

Bottom line: We are in the hospitality business. Training your team to think of themselves as hosts and treating your members as guests that are visiting your house will ensure that your members look forward to their visits year after year!

Richard Ekstrom, President of Retention Management
Company Mission: Create a positive impact on a club’s bottom line by improving retention.
He can be reached at 800-951-8048 ext.2 or RichE@RetentionManagement.com.

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