How many readers can identify with one or more of the 15 items listed in the Reality Check chart (at right)? Clubs with these characteristics tend to sell on price as opposed to selling on value. These clubs also tend to have a weak customer relationship management (CRM) program. This means that the club does not have a cost-effective member-centric focus or plan. Once that new member comes through the front door, there is no formal mechanism in place to keep him or her from leaving through the back door. The club tends to react after it receives the member's cancellation notification.

If you can identify with this, keep reading. However, if you want to make sure that your club never gets on this list, please read on as well. The Member Integration Layering Process (MILP) may be a potential option for your organization to get off and or stay off this list.

WHAT IS MILP?

The MILP, a subcomponent of SYSTEM 17 (see the October 2003 Focus On Personal Training) is designed to assist club operators in establishing, developing and implementing a CRM culture within the club. MILP is based on the assumption that each club member's experience should be consistently positive, intentional, differentiated and valuable. Under this system, each department works together in a cooperative, interactive way so that each member's experience is synergistically managed by the club. The interdepartmental effort is only as good as the quality of the staff. However, staff “buy-in” is only as good as staff leadership. Under MILP, your members' positive experience starts at the front desk when they enter your club and ends at some point in time long after they have left your club.

YOUR OPERATIONS AND MILP

Do you have an evaluation tool that tells you what aspects of your organization are not connecting with your membership? Do you know where your CRM breakdowns are occurring? Right now within your club, who is your “gate-keeper”? Who is the person, department or team that makes sure that your club connects with the low usage and non-usage members? Who is making sure that frequent users remain frequent users? And more important, who makes sure that your new members become frequent users and not become industry “drop-out” statistics? Are you using any CRM software to support your member integration process/program?

The layering or overlapping affect of the MILP will 1) facilitate the establishment of member goals, 2) facilitate the identification of programming options/needs that will support these member goals, and 3) facilitate the modification of programming options as member goals change. If done correctly, the MILP will enable your club to manage-up member wants, needs and interests. As this happens, the members will get their results. If they get their results, why would they leave? If this is the experience you want your members to have, then the MILP is the option for your club.

Bob Esquerre is still working “in the trenches” as the regional fitness director at Mercy HealthPlex in Cincinnati, OH. He can be reached at esquerre1@aol.com.

REALITY CHECK QUESTIONS

  1. We sold 1,510 memberships in 2003. But we lost 1,210 members in 2003. Net gain=300 members.
  2. Our clubs sold 2,000 memberships in 2003, but we lost 2,050 memberships. Net result=- 50 memberships.
  3. In the past five years, your club attrition rate has averaged 40%.
  4. Our sales team can sell anything to anybody. But once they're in our buildings, we can't keep them.
  5. Let's make a deal. The big discount hook. Let's get them, get EFT and hope they don't show up. But keep billing them.
  6. We overpromise at the front end and underdeliver in the back end.
  7. We have “The cheapest prices in town sales mentality.”
  8. We do whatever it takes to sell a membership mentality.
  9. We don't have a consistent and successful way of integrating our new members into our club.
  10. We don't have a consistent and successful way of keeping our existing members engaged and integrated into our club.
  11. We don't have a consistent and successful way of getting our low usage members integrated back into our club.
  12. We don't have a consistent and successful way of keeping our members informed about our club.
  13. Your members have an inconsistent and unintentional experience each time they experience your club.
  14. There is no real competitive point-of-difference between our club and our nearest competitor.
  15. Your staff is not trained in customer relationship management.