Wednesday, January 03, 2007

How Can Gold's Change Your Life Today? Improving Customer Service At A Gym Near You

I've paid my membership fee every month to one gym or another for years - and none of them have ever asked me if I was happy. If asked, I'd offer these improvement ideas...

Don't just email me ads for merchandise. Publish an email newsletter with workout tips, science-based exercise physiology pieces, nutrition ideas, motivation tactics.

Turn members into personal training clients by offering training at reduced prices. Heck, offer longtime members one free personal training session a month. During off hours. My gym's empty at 10am, 3pm, and it may even be empty at 9pm.

Feature member training goals, stories, aspirations on your Web site. Start a blog if you need to. Gold's tried something like this - they asked me to write up a testimonial for their "Wall of Fame." That was over a year ago. It's still not up.

Show personal training clients how much you care by arranging personal appearances by local fitness guru, bodybuilder, athlete or sports figures. Gold's tried this too - they recently ran a nationwide contest for members to win a training session with John Cena. Who won? Search me. I never received an email, and there's nothing on their Web site.

Don't offer me discounts on clothing. Use me as a billboard. Set me up with a couple of t-shirts, or a cool gym bag, or a baseball cap. Something that fits. Gold's gave me a t-shirt when I joined. XL. Although they could see I'm a M.

Greet me at the front desk and say "so long, thanks for working out!" when I leave. Front desk staff are the velvet rope people - and your members are the rock stars. Don't let the front desk staff become the Maginot Line. And resist the urge to conduct staff meetings there.

If staff is "on the floor" (i.e., anywhere they can be seen by members), then they should act accordingly. I've seen too many staff at too many gyms sitting in front of computer screens, doing who knows what. At Bally's once, I took a weight off a bench press bar and leaned it against the bench itself, since the rack was all the way across the room and I was going to use the weight again. "We don't lean weights against the machines," a staff person told me. No, I thought, we just stand around being annoying.

Pay attention to what equipment gets used, and what doesn't. Why do all gyms have racks of 100, 200, and 300 lb dumbells? Do the weight manufacturers sell sets and require you to buy what you really don't need? Have you ever seen anyone use these monster weights? Just think what you could put there instead - more useful dumbells, or another flat bench. It might help this kind of thing from happening.

If you're a chain, make it simple for a member in one city to work out at your gym in another city. We don't care if you're wholly owned and operated, or a name-only franchise with its own membership rules. If you're name's on the door, it's your's. I'm still not happy with the way I was treated in Fort Lauderdale earlier this year.

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