By now, you’re either thinking that I’m a shill on Computer Capitol Hill, or I’m buddy-buddy with some sort of Digital Dalai Lama.
I’ll let you make the final verdict on that, but here’s what I can say…
Whether you’re embracing the changing competitive landscape or if you’re rejecting it in favor of “good ol’ fashioned customer service,” the choice is yours.
But if there’s one thing I want you to have fully absorbed over this series, it’s this:
You should be using every technological tool at your disposal to create amazing experiences for your members both inside and outside of the gym, and you better have a good system to do it.
Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough
Your facility (I deeply hope) isn’t aiming to be the Generic Great Value brand in your local health and fitness market. Whoever you serve, you can be sure that their expectations are rising.
Thanks to high-profile brands in our industry like Orange Theory, SoulCycle, Equinox, and dozens of others, people are seeing (and feeling) what a modern, customer-centric experience is like… and shocker, they’re loving it.
If you have been resting on your laurels as the “good enough” convenient option in town, well then you’re just begging to watch a wave of not-so-loyal members migrate to the new kid in town who provides the top-notch experience.
“Great idea, hot shot, except they’ve got millions of dollars and teams over in corporate that make it all possible.”
To that, first I’d say, I’m never offended being called hot shot.
Secondly, believe it or not, you’re not actually at a disadvantage. In fact, you’ve got the upper hand.
Different Is Better Than Better
Your job isn’t to be the Award Winning Best Gym to Ever Exist in the History of Evers. We all know that title belongs to Mark Fisher Fitness. Shout out to my favorite haven’t-been-there-but-love-it-anyway gym.
See, Mark Fisher actually does an amazing job at being better by being different. Let me explain…
If you had a tragic experience with a Unicorn as a child – first, email me every agonizing detail of that story – then you probably won’t pull up Mark’s website and be greeted with tingles of intrigue and hilarious curiosity that end up with you booking a one-way ticket to New York to join the latex-laden “Ninjas” who inhabit that fantastical fitness facility.
…but if you’re of a very different creative conscious configuration, I might have just showed you your new favorite gym. If that’s the case, then I’d say Mark did his job. And better yet, you didn’t even have to set foot in the facility to know beyond a shadow of a doubt if it’s your vibe or not. Praise the power of the Interwebz!
Speaking of which…
People Talk – Give Them Something to Say.
To some degree, you get to control the conversation in your gym. You can hear what members are saying and respond immediately. But what happens to that message once it meanders beyond the four walls within your sphere of influence?
Your gym isn’t Vegas. Stories don’t stay bottled up. Members leave. Members talk.
Don’t leave it to chance.
I guarantee if you ask 100 random gym members from all different types of facilities, “How did your gym help make sure you were successful when you started?” you would get everything from blank stares to laughing fits.
Most gyms collect a credit card and wish the member good luck. If you do more than that, you’re already ahead. But if you take it really seriously and you create an onboarding program that nobody else is doing, your members will take notice.
People want something to share. And if you haven’t noticed by the amount of workout selfies that flood your Instagram feed every day, people are proud to portray themselves as picturesque pillars of health and fitness for their friends and family… and followers.
But people also like telling tall tales of tragedy and all the (factual or fictional) experiences they had after joining your gym. Go check your Yelp… there’s a few in there you’d pay good money to make go away. “You signed next to the annual fee, Brenda! You knew it was coming up…”
Whether you’re trying to have the whole town abuzz with chipper chatter about how absolutely unbelievable their experience has been at your club, or even if you’re just trying to prevent grumpy guests from getting their grief out online and damaging your reputation, use the tools that are available to you.
I’ll make the argument that you’re overestimating how difficult it is to get started creating high-tech, high-touch automated member onboarding experiences. I’d also bet you’re underestimating how impactful it can be on member satisfaction.
Don’t believe me? I’d gladly show you my data from thousands of gym members that show levels of engagement 2,064% above industry average. Yes, really. And yes, you could too.
Whatever you do, just make sure it isn’t more of the same. As Bob Dylan foretold, “change is gonna come.”
You invite members into your facility so they can better themselves.
Are you doing the same for your business?
What’s your system to ensure every member has an amazing onboarding experience at your club? You don’t achieve anything of value without having a clear process and roadmap to get you there. Are you winging it? If so, you can be sure the member and your business are suffering from a lack of structure. Take time to outline what the best experience would be for your member and how you can translate that into an actionable, efficient, measurable system. If you’re not sure how, feel free to reach out and I’m happy to help
***Haven’t read the first article in the series yet? Click here to read The Biggest Mistake with Member Onboarding***
Joe Kerns is the Co-Founder of Member Activator, a turnkey retention company that helps you create loyal long-term members through high-tech, high-touch personalized member onboarding. He holds a Master’s Degree in Exercise Psychology and combines his research and academic background with advanced marketing and digital communication technologies to create highly impactful customer experiences for fitness members.
Click here to take the Member Onboarding Quiz and find out how much better you could be doing with your retention program.