The most successful gym and fitness business owners understand that gaining a new member is just the beginning. Over time, your members become much more valuable to your business the longer they stay at your gym. So what do you need to do to improve your member retention? You probably already know the answer … Continue reading
Imagine for a moment that you just found out that Chuck Norris is in your city shooting some scenes for his next movie. And you’ve just been notified that he would like to visit your school tomorrow to get in a little training after a long day on the set.
He knows he can’t be anonymous, but he just wants to get in some training with your advanced adult class. Continue reading
Facebook, websites, mobile marketing and every other “high-tech” tool out there doesn’t compare to what I’m revealing to you today.
But first, a story …
Do you remember the TV show “Cheers”? The classic “Norm!” said by all as one of the regulars walked into the bar is a great example of member culture. The Cheers song “Where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came …” is what every Fitness business should strive for.
Now the beer, pretzels, and chicken wings may not resonate with the Fitness industry, but that concept of everyone meeting others and just having a great time is definitely needed.
Upon entering a Sushi or Japanese restaurant, you may be greeted by the chefs with the expression “irasshaimase”, which means “Welcome, please come in”. It is one of the reasons I love going out for sushi … and I eat a lot of it!
Whether you’re a Personal Trainer, a Fitness club operator, or a Yoga studio manager, you want to create that same special feeling when people enter your business doors, or even walk into a class that is being taught.
The Lemonade Shirts
I once had a wonderful experience at a Marriott Hotel — they lost 2 of my shirts. The overall experience was so positive that I found myself telling the story in a tough sales meeting.
I was visiting a dissatisfied customer, trying to retain the business. The supplier I represented had not paid attention to this customer”s needs, leading to service and quality problems. The customer had lined up an alternative source of supply; it was the 11th hour and our top management had decided to try to save the business. They flew in the VP of marketing and the manager of plants. We faced an extremely difficult selling situation.
I opened the meeting by telling the customer’s President the story of the Lemonade shirts.
If your goal is to satisfy your customers, then stop reading now, this will be a waste of time. I want to teach you how to WOW your customers, and create an exceptional, over-the-top experience. WOW is a word you say when you have experienced something remarkable and unexpected, when you under promise and over deliver.
Here are three secrets to creating exceptional service:
Life is full of contradictions. Imagine you are a prospective client (close your eyes … now open them again, how else will you read?…). A Martial Arts ad you read states, “Come and visit the area’s highest quality, family Martial Arts school.”
So you decide to visit since you have always wanted to re-join Martial Arts (something you did as a kid).
You walk into the school, the front desk is a mess, the receptionist is wearing casual street clothes. You wander around the lobby for a while, you have yet to be greeted or acknowledged. You see pictures of students on the wall, trophies in the corner that are caked with dust, and a few posters with Martial Artists on the wall. There is a class in session. Kids are talking to each other, some are sitting down, and the Instructor is working with a few students on the far side.
You have still have not been acknowledged, so you continue down the hallway and step into the restroom. There is a splash of liquid on the ground (yellow in color, albeit), toilet paper strewn about the trash can, and a horrid floor; you decide that you can wait until you get home.
You are greeted at the front desk by a kind, gently woman. She answers your questions and gives you a flyer. You walk out the door with some information; and a slight disappointment.
On your way home, you drop in to Starbucks to get your favorite, Salted Iced Mocha. The floor is clean (as you expected), the drink preparation area looks well run, the restroom is immaculate.
Why was the Martial Arts school unclean and unprofessional?
Why is it not up to the high standard of cleaning and professionalism standards that you would find at Starbucks or McDonalds every day?
No matter the size of your business, you will undoubtedly face an unhappy member from time to time. Your ability to effectively resolve that conflict is an important part of keeping your business strong and successful.
Here are 10 tips to help you transform disgruntled members into satisfied members. Read through the tips, then share them with your staff.
I feel that the greatest strengths that any Martial Arts school can have is the quality of instruction that they offer to their students.
Let’s face it, an instructor is only as good as their last class – meaning that whatever perspective a student had when they left their last class, is the way they now feel about your school.
It only takes a few “bad” classes before a student starts to lose enthusiasm for your program. I always tell my instructors that a student should leave our classes with the same feeling as if they just left Disney World. Our classes should be the most exciting part of a student’s day. If we do a great job on the floor, a student should always leave wanting more!
Teaching a high-energy class is only part of accomplishing this goal. Giving the student a feeling that we also have a personal interest in their success, making them feel a connection through the student-instructor relationship, and frankly that we even know that they exist, will bring to them a sense of confidence in us as their instructors, a feeling of connection, and a willingness to give us their best performance. This can only be accomplished by the willingness of the owners and instructors to have an open mind, understanding that there is always the need to continue to learn and improve their instruction, and to give their students their best performance.
Learning to build a rapport with your students should be part of every school’s plan in providing super customer service. Paying attention to detail in class management with drills for skills, mat chats, A/B days, and high-energy classes is only part of the equation to insure that a student can’t wait to come back for their next class.
By constantly trying to find ways to build better rapport with your students, you will find that your student’s level of interest will increase leading to better performance in their technique, developing more confidence in themselves, and improving their retention.
The Three Contacts Method
There are three ways that we should make contact with each of our students in each class that they attended:
The first is by using the one word that everyone loves to hear the most … their name. Make sure your instructors know every name of all of your students, and that they use each student’s name in their class. As they are giving their one-second compliments, have them simply use the student’s name. “Good job Timmy!”, “Nice kicks Sarah!”, “Looking good Chelsea!”. Use these one-second compliments and call the student’s names at any time they are performing in the class. This acknowledgement will motivate them to try even harder, giving you 100% effort and making them feel that you care enough to notice their performance.
The next contact is by using a physical pat on the shoulder (only the shoulders!) to show that you are noticing or acknowledging them. This can be done when an instructor is walking the lines and giving them a one-second compliment or simply when an instructor is walking by a student in the school. A pat on the shoulders as you say “How are you today?”, “You were great in class today!”, or “Wow, your kicks were awesome in class!” will go a long way to let your students know that you are aware of their performance and make them feel rewarded.
Finally, eye contact is very important in building rapport when speaking to any group of people. Making eye contact with someone when speaking to a group, even if it is for just for a second, will make a powerful connection between you and that member of your audience and will help keep the interest of the participant in what you are saying. When addressing a group, train yourself to make eye contact with as many people as possible, scan the entire room and remember when making eye contact with people in the back of the audience, you appear to be looking at more of the entire group. Making eye contact will insure that the participants feel that you are talking to them, that they are a part of what you are saying, and that you care.
Barry Van Over is the president of Martial Arts Management Group. Through his consulting and services company, Barry has helped hundreds of Martial Arts school owners maximize their profits and reach their business goals. The success of Martial Arts Management Group has allowed Barry to form one of the world’s largest organizations of studios, Premier Martial Arts, which has locations throughout the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.
Read Barry’s articles on retention and student membership agreements HERE.