Friday, 31 January 2014

The 80:20 principle of gyms

The Pareto Principle, or 80:20 rule, can be applied to a lot of life and business situations, and it's a great lens through which to look at health clubs…

The principle is most easily explained with a few examples. You wear around 20% of your clothes around 80% of the time. You spend 80% of your social time with 20% of your friends. And in business, 80% of your revenue often comes from 20% of your clients. The split is not always 80:20, it can be 70:30, but is sometimes 90:10 or more extreme. For this post, we’ll stick to the 80:20 split for simplicity.

Try these for size – do any of them sound familiar for your club?

  • 20% of the staff do 80% of the work
  • 20% of members make 80% of the noise (whether that noise is a complaint, or just grunting in the free weights area)
  • That same 20% take up 80% of the instructors’ time
  • 20% of members visit 80% of the time (4+ times a week)
  • 80% of members visit 20% of the time (around once a week)

These last two may be questionable (or need to be more flexible), but the point is that we often focus on the members making the noise, or the ones who are visiting regularly. They’re not necessarily the same 20%, but in both cases, they’re often the ones who are least likely to leave.

And the point is that they are also the ones who take up the most resource; usually instructors’ time. We’re not saying you should ignore them, but it is very easy for staff to always talk to these regular members, to the detriment of the members who need some help.

Good gym instructors always try to spend less time with their regular members - they step out of the comfort zone, and greet more new or unfamiliar members. This gets better results (for everyone) and makes for a much more interesting day.

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