Monday, 22 December 2008

How to survive the crunch – focus less on sales

I was pleased to see the article on the credit crunch in December’s Health Club Management magazine, but disappointed to read so much about sales and so little about retention. I think it is a dull reflection of the industry that so many operators are focusing on new sales offers during the financial crisis.

While new joining offers will encourage more people into the gym and move towards Fred Turok’s vision of 1 million more people exercising, I think these credit crunch deals are really trying to win over members from other clubs, and the more this happens, the more the industry will suffer.
When times are tight, it’s much easier (and cost effective) to cut back on gym membership than utility bills, so we must demonstrate value for money and really good service.

The only chain in the December article mentioning a strategy for existing members or soon to be ex-members is énergie. Hooray for them for thinking about existing members during the crunch.

Focus on your existing customers becomes as important as new sales in times like these (if not more so). Your clients should always be your best sales channel, and you should do everything you can to retain them. All staff must be involved in your retention policy, empowered to make decisions, and measured on results. This could easily lead to better job satisfaction or even better pay for fitness instructors, another big concern of mine.

2009 is going to be an evolutionary year in the fitness industry. Many of us will be watching the development of the budget club closely, and I think that membership trends could look very different. I look forward to the HCM retention features in April and July 09, and I believe that the successful clubs in 2009 will be those who channel as much into retention as they do into sales.

Letter to Health Club Management magazine 22/12/2008

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Cold Winter Runnings

Boy, was it cold out there today! Max motivation needed, more than ever, I thought before I set off…

So first I mapped out a new route on googlemaps; a change is as good as a rest. No double loop around Highgate Woods today, but a new run along the disused railway track and up to Ali Pali park for some wonderful views of London. The distance looked like just over 5k, so next I needed a 30 minute playlist.

Here’s a very easy, and really motivating playlist for 30 mins. Muse – Black Holes & Revelations, but take out tracks 5, 6, 8 and 10. You’ll be left with an incredibly uplifting, shouty soundtrack which will keep you going uphill as long as you need, particularly at the end with Knights of Cydonia. Come on!

Howies NBL base layer on to keep me warm, chin up, and off I went. Felt great all the way round, grinning at passers by, particularly other runners, and soon had the sleeves rolled up. Started to struggle on the way back up towards Muswell Hill, but Bellamy’s guitar kept me going.

The combination of a new route and a 30 min playlist was a really good one… Best speed since August, and a new route to share next time I’m out with friends. Time for a hot bath now.