By Yvan Miklin
President and CEO at Aquila/On-Site Health & Fitness Management
June 17, 2019
The boutique fitness center movement gets a lot of things right when it comes to customer service and the explosive growth of the movement in the most recent surveys is proof that members agree. Taking a cue from boutique studios, here are a few ways every fitness center can improve relationships, member retention and referrals.
1. Create an experience
Millennials especially are engrossed in daily health pursuits and place a much higher value on experiences than on equipment. Leverage technology to provide an experience for your members that includes regular, meaningful communication even when they’re not working out. Personalized email and app messaging draws members into your gym community, keeps them goal-focused and keeps your facility top of mind.
Some boutique facilities have also discovered the power of event planning. From employee appreciation events to adult birthday parties and pop-up workouts, health-conscious consumers want non-traditional options that include a little sweat.
As with any programming, it’s an acute eye for detail that provides a memorable and positive customer experience, so make sure you’re providing quality events and communications that improve member relationships and fitness center credibility.
2. Tailor to fit your population
The latest IHRSA report reveals that Generation Z and Millennials are the top consumers of boutique offerings such as High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), yoga and boot camp training. That speaks to the younger crowd’s propensity to seek out experiences and connection with others rather than solo workouts on machines.
Taking it a step further, many members age 34 and younger find value in “suffering” with friends, creating memories of shared workouts and training experiences that challenge them physically and push them to their limits.
Past the mid-30s, members generally use their gym time to work on goals in solitude. They prefer treadmills or ellipticals and will spend 30 minutes to an hour on one machine or in a low-impact class like yoga or aquatics training.
3. Fit this to your customer service
With these facts in mind, you have to
- Know your members
- Ask them what they want
- Give them what they want
Throughout the process of asking for member feedback via surveys and suggestion boxes, it’s important to enlist trainers to promote participation and encourage members to be heard. That extra effort generates more complete member feedback and increases member satisfaction.
Everyone wants to be heard and provide input and the more that happens and results in action, the more ownership and loyalty your members will feel toward your facility.