Canceled flights. Shorter hours. Slower service – if the place is even open. Empty shelves. Forced into self-serve lanes and self-help channels everywhere. The view across industries is maddeningly repetitive: we’re often paying more and getting less. And people are tired of it.
The Rise of Skimplation
Late in 2021 the term “skimpflation” appeared to describe how businesses and service providers everywhere have been cutting many expected services and carved operations out of their comfort zone to a bare-bones existence. There are many directions to point the blame, but whether you choose to call it the great resignation or the great assessment, there’s no doubt that workers leaving their jobs in droves had an impact.
Hopefully, that’s not the sparse experience members have when they come to your club, but it will take a change in the way you approach many things to keep that from becoming reality. Across the street, the restaurant industry now employs one million fewer workers than in 2019. That’s just one industry, but the result is that competition for service workers is fierce while customers still want and expect a great experience. Delivering future experiences that wow your members will take creativity. Following are three areas for fitness clubs to focus.
1. Employee Experiences
The fact of the matter is employees have options. As Shep Hyken wrote in Forbes, “An employee experience that creates loyalty is every bit as important as a customer experience that creates customer loyalty.” Good employees don’t leave for money alone. They want to be empowered to do their job, improve, and feel appreciated. Word gets around about bad experiences.
What you can do:
- Recognize your employees. Take the extra step to communicate with them in meaningful ways that show you value them.
- Give them the tools they need to focus more on their core responsibilities. If there are administrative and other tedious tasks that you can automate or lift from their plate, take advantage of them.
- Compensation is always top of mind. The fact is that hourly wages are rising, but don’t limit your options to just cash. Consider additional education opportunities, prime time slots, or other benefits that can impact how employees feel.
2. Accelerating Member Experiences
No one in the club industry would choose skimpflation as an operating strategy - it’s completely against our idea of service. But that fact is that staffing will continue to be an issue. That’s where a variety of technology can play a critical role. Technology empowers your staff to do more with fewer resources, quicker, and with less effort.
What you can do:
- Your members are mobile - use mobile technology to ensure you can connect with them, wherever they are.
- Digital payments - Remove friction in the transaction process for both members and staff - and collect more data in the process
- Track Performance - Results matter. Performance tech enables easy tracking of results by members and staff as well as the ability to offer challenges instantly and over time that build member engagement.
3. Communicate and Personalize Experiences
More than 10 years ago every Starbucks around the world knew their loyal customers’ names the minute they walked through the door. Clubs have to do better than that today. Proactive communications in a member's preferred channel are key, at the club and anywhere. Knowing preferences is one thing, anticipating other things might interest them another.
What you can do:
- A well-timed SMS message reaching out with a special invite or email about an upcoming event of personal interest to the member can do wonders.
- Recognize their life events and fitness milestones both in communications and in person.
- What are the next steps for members and staff? Planning ahead for your members' fitness journey keeps them engaged, avoids plateaus, and builds your business bonds. Looking ahead for your staff gives them motivation and their own goals to aim for.
Innovative fitness clubs and boutiques will continue to deliver outstanding experiences across the board despite the challenges they face. The key will be to focus and concentrate their associates where they have the most impact and use technology where appropriate to fill the gaps and empower staff to accelerate member experiences.