Summer is finally here, and while many of us are thinking about how to spend some well-deserved time off playing in the sun, now also is a good time to take stock of your service model.
Chances are, you have been running your team hard and lean over the past few months, doing your best to keep costs down and revenues stable or climbing. All of this can lead to a kind of fatigue among team members that's noticeable only when you happen to hear one of your trusted people say something really wrong to a frustrated member.
Service training via workshops and seminars is good but not always feasible. Even though outsourced workshops are great at getting people re-engaged for delivering great service in the near term, those lessons tend to get “shelved” in favor of more urgent issues. And vacation schedules make it difficult to schedule training during the summer.
So, here are suggestions for inexpensive but effective ways to give your service a boost and keep it going just by adding a few creative twists:
- Keep the club clean
We should always do this, but sometimes we let it slip. If you walk through the club several times a day, straightening weights or pulling out a vacuum and a dust cloth as needed, your team will pick up on it and do their best to keep you from finding their deficiencies. Better yet, consider scheduling a service day — an entire day devoted to cleaning and making minor but noticeable facility repairs right in front of the members. Members love seeing the entire team (managers included) coming out in jeans with dust rags, cleaning solutions and vacuum cleaners to make their club shine.
- Focus on the little things
Paying special attention to blemishes on walls, cracks in upholstery and areas that could use a fresh coat of paint will help your team take more pride in the way the facility looks. Members will be happy to see their club getting a facelift, and they may take more pride in the facility and treat it more as they would their own homes. Many may start putting their weights and small equipment away and may be more careful about putting hands on mirrors or black-soled shoes on a white wall.
- Recognize service excellence
Create a quarterly recognition reward to celebrate team members who give great service to both members and other employees. Consider replacing comment card boxes with “shout-out” boxes to encourage members to recognize their favorite service providers in the club. Results can be tallied to give out quarterly rewards and prizes. Members love to recognize their favorite service providers and instructors, and team members will feel a new urgency to go above and beyond the call of duty for the members.
- Create “magic moments.”
Consider brainstorming with your management team about fun things to do for your members that will make them feel special. One day you could offer water and orange slices after group exercise classes. Another day you could offer complimentary coffee or hot tea in the morning. You could do a club trivia day where members win club-branded water bottles or T-shirts. Team members really enjoy stepping up the service on these days, and members relish the extra attention.
- Add a great story time to team meetings
Leave a little time in every meeting for team members to tell stories about how one of their peers made a member's day. In just 5 to 10 minutes per meeting, these stories can refresh an employee's commitment to taking care of members and may even inspire them to action. Team members also quickly become used to the manager asking for these stories and may begin to go out of their way to help club members and get recognized by a teammate.
Small actions like these can have a viral effect on a club's culture. These small but meaningful activities can go on at any time and be initiated by almost anyone on the team. We know that great service equates to great value, which means greater retention. So get creative and ramp up your service in multiple ways. When members feel that the team cares about them — that they indeed matter — the club is rewarded with member loyalty. And that's true at any time of year.
Amanda Harris is vice president of fitness and wellness at ACAC Fitness Centers in Virginia. She also is a management development specialist with more than 15 years of industry experience, including 13 years as a personal trainer.