Boutique gyms are the 2013 health trend to watch, according to the Huffington Post, and people are paying big bucks to join. So what attracts people to these high-priced boutique gyms? Jae Ireland from Livestrong.com writes about the personalized, community-feel where you pay for services you really want and have a customized experience versus the overcrowded, large, & sometimes daunting fitness clubs. Many boutique gyms specialize in getting to know their clients and establishing a relationship. When you walk into an establishment and people say “hello” and they know your name, you feel important and special. Just like at the bar, Cheers, where everyone knows your name. Many boutique gyms follow this protocol and have their clients coming back for more.
Here are some tips to add that personal, boutique feel to your gym:
Tip #1. Start with your reception team. Jeff Ro, Sales Professional in the Health and Fitness industry, states “our frontline staff is a direct representation of our management team and company. It really makes a big difference when you’re being greeted with a warm smile and a simple ‘How are you?’ The last thing you want is for the receptionist to give the cold shoulder and just refer them to the ‘manager on duty’ kind of thing.”
Tip #2. Practice what you preach. Brian Townsend, Fitness Consultant and Former Club Operator, advises managers to set the example and stay on top of employee interaction with customers. Take a walk around your gym and introduce your self to people in the club. Also, introduce fellow members to one another to build relationships between customers.
Tip #3. Encourage employee engagement. Ro informs that his sales reps constantly interact with the members and make it a habit to remember everybody by their first name. Ro quotes, “this literally takes 5-10 minutes from the day but can make the world of difference to our clients, not only are we cementing the sale but we’re building strong relationships so they feel like they ‘belong’ to a community. We try our best to strike up a conversation with a member we recognize just to see how they’re doing and how they’ve liked the gym so far as well.” Townsend’s staff also engages with their customers by making sure all people have met the “first timers” and walked them around to assist with showing where equipment is and help them learn the ins and outs of the facility.
Tip #4. Host events. People love to feel like they are a part of a group. Both Ro & Townsend host events both in-house and outside to engage clients, introduce clients to one another, and build their health community. Some ideas include running groups, themed fun runs for members and their families and friends, weight-loss competitions, and more.
Bottom line is that a happy customer will tell their friends and word-of-mouth referrals are generally a company’s #1 seller. The fitness industry is competitive and a satisfied client is a lifelong member. So put your smile on and start to meet & greet your clients!
Sarah Koszyk is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach at Eating Free, an online adult weight management program. She also provides in-person nutrition coaching at a private practice, MV Nutrition, in San Francisco, CA, where she specializes in sports nutrition and adult and pediatric weight management. She is the founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. a family-based wellness program and blog. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.