How do your daily operations affect member experience and can something as simple as not being able to find a parking space cause a member to cancel?
As part of the TRP 10,000™ study Dr. Melvyn Hillsdon looked at the everyday things that annoyed members about their visits to their club and whether this led them to cancel, see Club hassles and uplifts whitepaper. The research looked at both interpersonal and operational hassles and sought to identify which had the biggest impact on member experience and ultimately retention. Of the top four predictors of cancellation highlighted two were operational:
1. Queueing for equipment
Nobody likes waiting, especially when it’s their precious leisure time at stake, and members who have to queue for machines and find it an annoyance are 28% more likely to cancel than those members who never have to wait to use a piece of equipment.
Many larger gyms have the space and budget to duplicate resistance machines and have lines and lines of cardio equipment, but this isn’t possible for everyone and it isn’t necessarily the best solution for a truly customer focused club.
Speaking to the TRP retention coaches, they say that flooding your gym with machines makes it more difficult to interact with your members; lack of interaction with members is shown to have an adverse effect on your retention rate, see The art of communication whitepaper. They instead suggest viewing a queue for equipment as an opportunity for your staff to engage with a member and offer them an alternative exercise working the same muscle group. 72% of members report learning a new piece of equipment as something they enjoy doing, see Club hassles and uplifts whitepaper.
2. No parking spaces
Your car park is the first touchpoint many of your customers have with your club every time they visit. After a long day at work and a battle through rush hour traffic, the frustration of not being able to park their car is enough to make them turn around and give up! Members who are unable to find a parking space on a regular basis, and get annoyed by this, are 33% more likely to cancel their membership than members who are able to quickly and easily park their car on every visit.
The obvious solution here would be to expand your car park; but that is expensive and requires space and planning permission and is therefore by no means a quick fix.
Why not make it easier for your members to use alternative forms of transport? Tell them where the nearest bus stop is. Make sure there is plenty of safe, covered bicycle storage to try and encourage cycling instead of driving.
Our coaches believe that the key here is managing expectations. You could do this by creating a ‘traffic-light timetable’, highlighting your very busy times in red, moderately busy times in amber and less busy times in green, which is stuck behind reception or on a wall in the gym. This will allow your members to get an understanding of when the gym is likely to be busy and thus when the car park might be full. Not only will this hopefully help take some of the strain off your car parking facilities, it could also help to reduce queueing on the gym floor using the same principle. Be sure to err on the side of caution with this and try to ‘under-offer’ and ‘over-deliver’ by only showing the time periods when your members are very unlikely to have to queue in green.
The study also identified a further six club hassles all of which had a significant effect on the overall member experience:
1. Changing facilities not clean
2. Broken equipment
3. Cancelled classes
4. No towels available
5. Toiletries run out
6. No locker available
Whilst the relationship between these hassles and an increased likeliness of cancellation is not as strong as for ‘queueing for equipment’ or ‘not being able to find a parking space’, they are still reported as being ‘annoying’ by gym members and therefore negatively contribute to their relationship with your club. You should be taking every opportunity which comes your way to make your member experience outstanding.
I want you to take away two key learnings from this piece.
Firstly, you should now appreciate that the operational elements of your club are integral to your retention strategy and that the eight listed in this article are important to your members and you should therefore strive to make them excellent.
Secondly, you should understand the importance of giving your customers a voice, and making sure they have a platform on which to speak.
How do you do this? Net promoter Score® (NPS®).
NPS® is a very simple idea which involves asking your members just one simple question, “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?”, yet the value of the answer can be huge for your club. Members respond to the NPS® question by scoring their likeliness on a scale of 0 – 10, with 0 being not likely at all and 10 being definite. Alongside their score members can leave a comment highlighting the specific problem/problems which is/are affecting their enjoyment of your facility. You can learn more about NPS® and how to successful implement it in your club by watching this month’s webinar here.
Whilst NPS® is more than just a tool for collecting feedback, see here, in this instance it does just that, highlighting your club’s specific issues so that you can make changes based on what your most important stakeholders care about.
You wouldn’t run a marathon with your eyes and ears closed, so why would you run your club this way?