It takes a shift of emphasis, which doesn’t start with the numbers. It starts with the PEOPLE! It begins at the leadership level, transfers through the team, and expresses itself in enhanced member satisfaction...
Delivering and ScalingExceptional Member Experiences
Two weeks ago, Jack Thomas, CEO of the Fit Guide, a global independent rating system for premium fitness clubs and studios, said in his opinion piece that the fitness industry has a hospitality problem. As an industry veteran, I couldn’t agree more. In his article Jack suggested five fundamentals things your team could do to improve sales conversions and member retention.
Jack’s made the point that “. . . simple things can have a big impact on the (member) experience.” He also went on to show that among the 250 sites the Fit Guide analyzed, almost 60% of clubs do not achieve these fundamentals. And yet at the Beyond Activ APAC event in Sydney, most operators highlighted the absolute importance of the member experience. So where’s the disconnect?
I would argue that as much as I believe the fitness landscape has dramatically changed post COVID, the consolidation and expansion of portfolios has made it difficult to scale delivery of an enhanced member experience.
The other problem is that we continue to place enormous emphasis on sales, and very little emphasis on member retention. We drive members through the front door, but a lackluster member experience often has them marching out of the back door just as quickly.
We see a similar phenomenon with turnover of our team members, and this is where I believe the problem amplifies. A revolving door of team members almost guarantees an average, at best, member experience. In contrast, if you train, nurture, and retain your team members, and they’re engaged, they’ll more consistently deliver a “five star hospitality experience,” as Jack described. Referrals, membership sales and retention inevitably follow.
So how can we improve team retention and engagement, and in turn the prospect and member experience, at scale?
The “People First, Always” Solution
It takes a shift of emphasis, which doesn’t start with the numbers. It starts with the PEOPLE! It begins at the leadership level, transfers through the team, and expresses itself in enhanced member satisfaction. The byproduct, improved profitability!
This is not a theory, it is founded on over three decades of experience leading large and small fitness and wellness organizations in the U.S. and Australia. I’ve always led these companies with a ‘People First, Always’ mindset and over time this morphed into a formula for fitness business success, which simply begins with mindful leadership, driving team member engagement and in turn delivering a great member experience. The result: long-term, sustainable business success.
I called this the AFFINITY Formula. In an attempt to scale this concept I wrote a book around this formula, called “The Affinity Principle.” The book apparently resonated, and in turn became a bestseller in the U.S.
As the book gained traction and readers shared their own successes and struggles, it became apparent that the biggest challenge came in truly scaling team engagement and the member experience across large portfolios. I had experienced these challenges and knew that creating this momentum and culture in a single site club was relatively easy, but doing it across large chains was tough.
Based on this feedback, I teamed up with my former CIO to build an AI-powered platform to scale the AFFINITY Formula. The system rhythmically surveys team member engagement and member satisfaction metrics, and distills these signals and feedback into a single, powerful lead indicator called the AFFINITY INDEX. This effectively measures the AFFINITY Formula and generates critical insights and actionable intelligence optimizing retention, referrals and growth in any size organization.
Ultimately, delivering an improved hospitality experience is both an art and a science and whether you use a tool like AFFINITY OS™ or a suite of tools to manage the intricacies of today’s fast paced world, scalable, real time solutions are essential to expand your influence over the member experience, beyond your immediate reach.