Friday, 20 September 2013

Maintaining Motivation - Health Club Management

Kath Hudson • Journalist • Health Club Management Sept 2013

EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT... Maintaining motivation
Are clubs supporting their members in maintaining good habits, leaving them to motivate themselves — or worse, actually causing them to break good habits?

The health and fitness industry is based on the premise of improving people's health, but how well is the sector doing in supporting good habits and motivation levels? Are we doing all we can, or are we unwittingly causing members to break good habits?
A quick brainstorm in the office showed that everyone had an experience of how their club, or former club, had lost members as a result of not supporting their habits
: changing the time of a popular class, for example, or causing a great instructor to leave by undervaluing them — quibbling over their pay, when an analysis of the loyalty of members within that class would have demonstrated the instructor's worth to the club.
Both scenarios are prime examples of the operator not understanding the needs and goals of its members, and not properly analysing the drivers of retention. But why is this happening?
Is it cultural — an inherent lack of communication between clubs and members? Do clubs not really know their members, instead making decisions based on assumptions? Or, even worse, are changes simply made because they are more convenient for the club?
How do operators rectify the problem, getting to know members well enough to consistently support good habits? How do they find out member goals so they can support and motivate them?
Is it a case of regular member surveys, or driving more interaction between staff and members? Should member forums be used to get feedback? Is social media a reliable barometer? Would having a question of the week on a noticeboard work? Could members be asked a question each time they swipe their card? Or is it just a case of better analysing the data clubs already have?
And how can all the information generated be put to good use? We ask the experts for their thoughts...


The Extraordinary Coaching Co - Owner
“Do clubs do as much as they could to support their members' habits? Short answer: no. It's long been known that one of the main reasons for people leaving clubs is lack of attention on the gym floor, yet still instructors fail to make real connections. A chat at induction is about as good as it gets. If instructors made a point of speaking to members each time they exercised — asking them how they are, what their goals are and giving them some pointers on technique or a challenge to do there and then — what a difference it would make.
The answer? Give staff extra training to give them the confidence to talk to members. Give them strong leadership from the gym manager. Show them how to approach people and very soon it will become automatic. In the studio, group exercise instructors need to create a sense of community and have a robust strategy for keeping in touch with their clients. They need to use social media — form groups, set up forums. And how about a monthly newsletter for their members? Easy to set up and worth its weight in gold. Also, before making any radical changes, clubs need to assess whether they are in the best interests of the members. Ask them, survey them, find out first,'


The Retention People • Operations director
“Health clubs might inadvertently be breaking good habits by making decisions based on assumptions. Knowing your members is of utmost importance, to ensure you're always supporting them in maintaining their positive habits.
This is easier said than done though, and requires regular and meaningful contact using all forms of communication — SMS, email, social media and even snail mail — although none of this can beat in-club interaction between staff and members. If changes are to be made in-club, make sure there's good data to support them. Therefore, if people are disappointed, at least the reason behind it can be explained.
Some ways of getting to know members can be cumbersome. Member forums can result in a one-sided view from only a few vocal members, while large surveys can result in reams of data that's often never used. But clubs that effectively capture and analyse data on a regular basis are having great success. Many clubs are doing this using the Net Promoter Score, which provides members with a way of telling the club exactly what's important to them on a regular basis. It also provides the club with meaningful data in a way that can be easily managed, analysed and responded to."


GG Fit Ltd • Director
“Clubs don't always know their members and so can make decisions based on assumptions, which can lead to them breaking good habits. Serviced clubs need to give an increasingly personalised approach. That's difficult when there are 1,000-plus members, but this is what they should be aiming for.
As soon as people join, it's important to get some information about them and their needs, then use this to help them set goals. Encourage staff to interact with members: have a question of the week that staff can ask, or put it on a noticeboard for members to respond to.
Survey members often: no more than monthly, but no less than quarterly. Keep it simple, with no more than three or four questions. There tends to be most take-up if surveys are done online: Stevenage Leisure saw a 700 per cent increase when it switched its surveys online. And publish the results — members like to see how their comments compare and it leads to better survey take-up. Crucially, deliver on the feedback: even though just publishing results improves retention, it's best to respond to them.
Also, for true feedback, it's interesting to survey ex-members as they leave and 30 days later, as their reasons may change.”


Leisure-net Solutions • Managing director
“What the fitness industry is generally quite good at is setting up systems to get feedback when things go wrong. What it's not so good at is getting systems running and training staff to get ongoing, informal feedback.
There needs to be better staff training to encourage them to speak to members, and staff also need to be empowered to feed this information back to management.
Used on a monthly or quarterly basis, the Net Promoter Score is effective. It allows members to give regular feedback on the positive as well as the negative, and because it's a short survey based around whether they would recommend the club on a scale of 0 to 10, the response rate is high. Happy members are equally as likely to respond as unhappy members.
A bold way of getting feedback would be to offer a guarantee, such as promising to help members achieve their goal in three months or give them their money back, like Premier Inn with its good night guarantee.
Customer forums and focus groups could also be better used, creating a panel of representative members to act as a sounding board for any changes or complaints. This could be done via email or NING, which is like a closed Facebook page.”

This article first appeared in Health Club Management magazine - September 2013

No comments: