Picture this - you’re planning your well-deserved vacation and looking forward to finally traveling again post-pandemic. You’ve got your destination picked out, activities planned, and restaurant tables booked. But there’s one thing missing- your hotel reservation.
You’ve narrowed it down to two options. Both hotels are pretty similar in terms of quality of rooms and location. One is a chain and the other is a stand-alone business. You trust the consistency of the chain, having stayed there before, although it’s nothing special. You know the beds are fine (not great), the small pool is sufficient (when there aren’t screaming children present) and the lack of room service doesn’t really bother you.
Your second option is a little pricier- and you can see why. A friendly staff is eager to greet and serve you, a stunning pool and hot tub are pristinely clean, and a state of the art fitness center awaits you. You can tell this stay is much more than just a place to sleep at night.
So, which do you choose?
This is exactly what your members experience as they decide between your club and another chain gym. What sets you apart from your competition lies within your programming as well as your Services & Amenities. These extra features give your members a luxurious experience that keeps them coming back for more.
Unless you live in a very small, isolated town, your gym will not be the only place to exercise in your community. There are many ways to stand out from the competition as a business owner. For gyms though, all else being equal, it’s your offering of amenities that really can take your gym over the edge. If Gym A down the street has all the same offerings as your gym, PLUS cucumber water, hot towels in the bathroom, and a smoothie bar, you can bet they will choose Gym A and you won’t know what you’re doing wrong.
If you can provide a few extras to your members, the return on investment can be huge. Not only will you be setting yourself apart from the competition, but your members will be more inclined to come in more often, invite their friends and stay with you longer. By providing things that make the gym-going experience more comfortable, you remove or deeply detract from the main barrier most people have from exercising: discomfort.
While diehard workout fans thrive in the challenge and pain of pushing their bodies to the limits, most average people would be more inclined to get a workout in if it was fun and relatively pain-free. Having classes such as yoga, pilates, and amenities such as a pool and steam room, all offer the more laid back gym goer enticements that will bring them back in. Reaching the average person and making them a gym-lover is the ideal scenario for a fitness club, as there are many more average folks who don’t obsess over their delts than those that can’t imagine going a day without squats.
Exercising is not easy to get people in the habit of, but by making it comfortable and exciting with little rewards peppered into the experience, you remove some of the challenge of just getting people to come into the gym, and coming back again.
It can be challenging to understand what offerings your particular community members will be drawn to, and making these types of decisions blindly can lead to a lot of wasted time and money. So how do you find out what people want? Most operators think they have the best gym in town, with the best trainers and the best equipment. Most operators do not actually know if they are the best in town because they have no real data from members or their community to support their claims.
So start thinking about what your members want and then how you can deliver it to them. There are two examples listed below, and ultimately what should be driving these changes is your desire to be a more profitable club. You need more memberships, you want longer commitments from the memberships you currently have, consider enhancing your Services & Amenities.
2. Be competitive in your market - what are your competitors doing?
Here are three great resources for you to check out once you're finished here:
It’s not new information that fitness classes are what keep members coming back. In fact, IHRSA data shows that the cancellation of members who exercise in groups was 44% lower when compared to those who only use equipment.
The way you manage your fitness classes can make a huge difference in your member retention. But it isn’t only to do with what classes you provide or who your trainers are. It starts all the way at the beginning with your members signing up for and scheduling classes.
For your services to shine, your operations must be seamless. Click here or the photo to hear from Calen Williams, Customer Success Expert, as to how you can utilize feedback to improve your scheduling process.
When approaching how your Club can leverage Services & Amenities, it's helpful to think about them in a separate "bucket" from your fitness programming- the exercise programs you charge for. These additional features are a separate aspect of your gym and shouldn’t necessarily be mixed into your programming operations.
Services & Amenities make your club nice, welcoming and create alignment for your brand while standing apart from the core programming that people come for. But, with both, you must aim to make them highly aligned to your core mission, purpose and values - your brand value proposition.
But take caution when exploring how you can heighten your Member’s Experience. If you aren’t careful, you can actually detract from their happiness and even harm their exercise habits.
You can prevent this by making sure that the Services & Amenities you implement are ones that you can do really well. Don't just judge whether the Service or Amenity fits your brand; does the way you can deliver it support your brand?
Also, avoid making these features a stumbling block that would get in the way of people developing exercise habits. Remember, your members are returning to your club for the amazing programming you have set in place to aid them in creating healthy exercise habits that will improve their lives. They aren’t coming back for your whirlpool or sauna- that’s just an added benefit.
As with all your operational functions, the services and amenities you offer will evolve over time- use the framework as a decision matrix for choosing which to offer and to help you think about how to introduce and deliver new offerings in a way that aligns to your brand. Right now, Blair is really interested in adding more recuperation centered services and amenities. As he brings them in, he and the team will consider how to provide them in a way that is really consistent with his club's core mission, purpose and values.
This framework can now act as the jumping off point for what Services & Amenities you can begin to implement in your own club and how you can deliver it to support your brand.
Personal Note: A great Member Experience promotes growth, and it promotes sustained growth. What you can learn from your members is invaluable pieces of data that should factor into many of the decisions you make as a Club Operator.
Consider a trial period with us at MXMetrics. We pride ourselves in the fact that nearly our entire team has worked in many functions within fitness facilities. That experience can help you take your member feedback and make it actionable through 1-1 trainings, team trainings and "play" development.
You want to keep your members happy while staying ahead of your competitors, let's talk. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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