Member Satisfaction: It's All in the Name

The fitness industry is booming and new clubs are popping up mere minutes from you. “New” looks good to your members. “Less expensive” looks even better.

Other than slashing your rates and completely replacing every piece of equipment you own, what can you do to keep your current members loyal? With a new club on nearly every corner, you must develop something your cookie-cutter competitors can't: unbelievably high customer service.

How do you do it?

It can be as easy as remembering a member's name.

The opening song from the old sitcom “Cheers” said it best: “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.” It's true; no word sounds sweeter to a person than his or her own name. By learning each and every member's name, you will begin to position your club as the friendliest, most customer-oriented facility in the area. People who belong to your club will have a greater sense of loyalty because they feel comfortable and wanted, a member of the team.

Our club takes it to the extreme. Call us antiquated, but our members do not tote the fancy, laminated key tags proudly advertising the club's logo and bar-coded member number. Instead, when Bill Kelly walks through our front door, he is immediately recognized by the front desk staff-person. She quickly types his name into our check-in system and he's greeted with “Good afternoon, Bill! How are you?” Bill instantly has a feeling of belonging and ownership. We are his health club. We know his name, so he's part of us. Bill Kelly will be a member for life.

Learning hundreds of names is not the easiest task. This is something you and your staff will have to work hard to do. Here are some tips.

Say It Again

For some people, learning a person's name may be as easy as repeating it once or twice. When meeting someone for the first time, immediately say her name: “Hi Melanie, it's nice to meet you.”

Drop her name a few more times during the conversation to seal it in your memory. Each time you see this member in the future, address her by her first name.

Take a Picture

Equip your club with a computerized check-in system that displays a photograph of the member.

Most front-desk systems are designed with this option. If yours isn't, get it. When a member checks into the front desk, his name and personal photograph will pop up onto your computer screen. The visual connection of the face with the name will assist you and your staff in memorizing his identity.

Personal Touch

As official as a bar-coded key tag may look, it may be guilty of taking away from the personal touch of your club and contributing to the “I feel like a number” mentality. Instead of a key tag — or in addition to it — go back to basics with a manual sign-in sheet. Also, station your front-desk personnel in front of the computer to key in each member manually. Staff may have to ask the member for his name initially, but this will only further assist the memorization. (Make sure to remember this person's name so when he leaves the club, he can hear, “Have a good night, Don!”)

Play the Name Game

Make memorizing fun. Host memory contests with other members of your staff such as, “Who can name everybody in the free-weight room?” Play the game with yourself. When walking past a row of treadmills, list everybody's name. Did you miss someone? Immediately find her name by asking another staff person or the member herself.

Lisa Richardson has been a member of the management team of Rodman Health & Fitness (Foxboro, Mass.) since 1998. According to Richardson, the single most important aspect of her job is to provide exceptional customer service to her membership. She may be contacted at fitness@rodmanford.com or (508) 543-7777.


Know Your Names

  1. Repeat a member's name out loud when meeting him or her for the first time. Say it at least two more times during the conversation.
  2. Equip your club with a computerized check-in system that displays both the member's name and photograph.
  3. Manually key in each member's name as he or she checks into your club.
  4. Play name games with your staff.