June 12, 2009
If you watch sports like most people, you are probably impressed by the extreme athleticism, determination and focus of athletes from around the world. One of our favorite sports to watch and play is Beach Volleyball. We find that this sport can be used as an analogy for business excellence.
In the sport of Beach Volleyball, you only have 2 people. You rely and depend on each other closely. Each player must be a master of both Offense and Defense. Great offense would be the ability to serve ACEs, spike hard for the kills and play smart (ie. look for the open spots or weak links). Great Defense would be the ability to return serves, bump with precision, block aggressively and play with your heart and soul (going for those impossible digs). Since you only have 2 players, a team can’t afford to have one player specialize only in Offense and/or Defense and be extremely weak in the other area – they must be masters of both! The team who reaches 21 points first, wins. But let’s say you’re really good at offense and great at scoring points. Well, all it takes is for you to mess up once, the ball to turnover to the other team, and if you’re not good at defense, your opponent will quickly take over the momentum and win the match. And in contrast, if you’re really great at defense but not so hot at offense, you’ll have a difficult time scoring the points you need to win.
Similarly, winning clubs and training studios must be good at offense and defense. In the fitness industry, offense refers to the ability to sell and defense refers to the ability to maintain members and clients. Great offense refers to Sales (scoring points) – the ability to effectively take incoming phone calls, perform inspiring tours and complimentary sessions, to ask for referrals, to suggestive sell event participation/energy bars/shakes/HR monitors etc, to network in our community, and to effectively advertise/market… Great defense refers to Client Retention (keeping the points you scored) – the ability to keep members/clients happy and returning/renewing customers (Results/Energy/Passion/Relationships/Small Details – (Cleanliness, Efficiency, Accuracy, Amenities), calling back clients who have discontinued/canceled – showing we care.
Larger clubs may be able to afford to have specific individuals specialize in either sales or customer service but still each player on your team needs to embrace the skills of both areas. And for smaller clubs and training studios, because your team will traditionally be smaller, it is imperative that each member on your team understands that they need to develop retention and customer service skills.
In a club or training studio, if you have great sales skills but poor customer service retention, you’ll lose clients as quickly as you sell them. It’s called the revolving door syndrome – 100 new members in each month, 100 members cancel each month – and you never actually get anywhere. And if you’re great at customer retention but poor at sales, you’ll have a difficult time growing your business or hitting sales goals as you lose clients for reasons outside of your control (ie moving, financial etc).
“68% of customers decide to no longer do business with a particular organization because they perceive an attitude of indifference by the employees!”
• Greet all clients warmly and by name. Do clients/members know that you are happy to see them? Ask yourself how many people you know by name and likewise, how many members know you by name.
• Get to know all clients/members – develop a strong relationship so they know you care about them. Make a point of conversing with each member/client by offering a compliment on their consistency or their appearance, inquiring about their workout plans, asking a question, inviting them to a new class, informing and inviting them to an upcoming event…”I’d love for you to join us…It’ll be so much fun!)
• Call members/clients when they don’t show up for workouts – let them know you missed them
• Call clients/members just to talk to them and see how they are doing
• Introduce clients/members to each other and foster an environment where friendships are developed. People will be less likely to leave if they have a lot of friends at the gym.
• Say goodbye to all clients as they leave. Ask them how their workout was. Tell them we can’t wait to see them again.
Manage your Moments of Magic
• Every moment is a potential moment of magic
• Go the extra mile – ask yourself what you can do for a client/member to make it easier, more convenient, require less of their time etc.
• Do your due diligence – Make the extra effort with clients by contacting physicians, coaches, researching information, providing educational materials…
• Call clients/members on their birthday
• Send birthday, holiday, congrats and thinking of you cards
• Inspire clients to participate in Outdoor adventures and events that will create long-lasting lifetime memories
• Do more than clients expect
Managers and Directors can help their team embrace this thought process by going through the following drill at an upcoming staff meeting. First start by discussing the concept and the importance of each team player developing offense and defensive skills. Then split off into various departments (ie Personal Trainers, Sales, Customer Service Reps, Day Care, Group Fitness Instructors) and have each department come up with ways that they can be masters of Offense and Defense in their department. And then regroup and have each department share their thoughts. If you are alone in your own company, do this drill yourself. It will help you stay focused on the two most important aspects of running a successful fitness business – getting new clients/members inspired and keeping them happy and loyal customers.
Summary – It’s not enough to be good at just sales or customer service, you have to be world-class at both to succeed!
Read more on What’s more important – offense or defense?…