Thursday, October 05, 2006

Improving Your Club

At the risk of turning this blog into the Rick Caro blog, I wanted to create this entry about Rick’s presentation this morning, “Improving Your Club: Making the Right Decisions,” because the information he presented will be very helpful for many of you. I was pleased to see that the room was full—about 70 people in attendance, which for an 8:30 am seminar is a great turnout.

I’ll just note some of the highlights here.

Sales: Rick emphasized the need for sales software that allows you to make notes on people so anyone can pick up the account and handle it should the original salesperson be ill.
He suggested that clubs do more online sales training. Rather than just offering lectures, he urged club owners to test the staff on what they heard—do role playing and videotape it so the staff can watch themselves and can see for themselves where they need to improve.

Member Retention: “We need to know who the ‘fragile’ people are,” Rick said, meaning the people who are on the verge of leaving. “Who can we save if we intervene?” You must know who has never belonged to a club before or who is a reluctant joiner (perhaps the spouse of a very eager joiner who got pulled into the membership) or who is new to town. These are fragile members. They need more hand holding. Figure out what they want out of the club and tell them where and when they can get that. Along with these, clubs need to do a better job of offering starter classes and advertising them to members. Not everyone is a yoga expert and they need to know there will be other beginners in the class with them.

Group Programming: Rick suggested that some clubs don’t change their group programming enough and they continue to schedule classes with low attendance. He suggested talking to the people who participate in poorly attended classes to let them know that you are canceling the class due to low attendance and help them on an individual basis find a class that better meets their needs. One club that Rick worked with canceled a class attended by just two regulars and once the manager talked to the participants, she found out that they didn’t enjoy being the only ones in the class. They were happier when the manager helped them find another class.

Member Research: Not enough clubs know enough about their members, Rick said. Clubs should be collecting information about their members when they first join and they should continue to do so. That way, they can tailor e-mails to these individuals. He suggested doing annual surveys and doing a mini survey or focus group with members prior to changing any programs or renovating.

Staff/Team Development: “We have a bunch of stars in our clubs, but they don’t know it,” Rick said. “If you have plans for them, let them know and chart it out for them.” A club owner who wants an individual to move into the GM position in a few years must communicate that to the individual and offer him or her suggestions on classes they should take, responsibilities they should take on in order to make the promotion happen. That gives the employee a plan and a goal to work towards.

Expense Management: Rick said clubs need to get lean and mean. They should find expenses hidden from members and look at how to lower those—expenses such as health care expenses, insurance costs, alarm system costs. Clubs should also implement a cost savings contest to staff because staff often see savings where management doesn’t.

The seminar offered a wealth of information beyond these areas, but these are at least some of the highlights. We’ll blog more later on other seminars we attend.

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