Fitness Franchise Owner Refocused On Superior Customer Service

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Company: Fitness Together, a personal training business run by three brothers-in-law, has 22 employees. With Ohio franchise rights, the 5-year-old business has locations in Rocky River, Hudson, Chagrin Falls and Solon.

1 0 0Share The Mistake: For a few years, I believed that the most important thing to a client was a great-training session. It took surveys and a declining clientele for me to understand that first and foremost, we're in the service industry.

At Fitness Together, we exclusively offer one-on-one personal training to help clients reach goals, whether it's losing weight, gaining strength or working on medical concerns. I used to coach staff to focus on making sure clients get the most out of custom programs that include nutritional education. That's it.

Even though I've had ownership stakes in both a restaurant and landscaping business in the past, I underestimated the importance of customer service in personal fitness. Part of the problem is that I've always taken personal training seriously. I've been into fitness most of my life, long before I obtained credentials and decided to invest in a fitness franchise.

We don't have memberships or contracts, so we expected people to continue programs based on results. But when the economy took a hit, and my back door was open more than my front door, I knew I had to make some changes.

The Fix: The first thing I did was recognize that people expect value for a high-end service. Next, I hired a director of client care. Her entire job description is based on client retention, allowing trainers to focus only on training.

The bottom line is, it's easier to keep a satisfied client than continually court new customers every three to six months. We don't run health clubs, so we're not into volume. In our business, about 50 clients is a good number, and 75 is really busy.

But until we started making it easier for people to use our services, we were getting three new clients and losing three more at the same time. It was a wash. People felt like they were bothering trainers when they had to call and make changes. Now we're the ones making calls to see how we're doing.

We also created employee training manuals and procedures based on what we learned from clients. Before I read a lot of client surveys -- both corporate and local -- I used to rank the workout most importantly. The relationship with my client was second, followed by the experience. Our clients ranked the experience first and the workout last.

It's unrealistic to expect that clients will renew with us, time and time again. Now, by focusing as much on customer service as on a great-trained session, we're getting more referrals than ever.

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Fitness Together
9780 Meridian Blvd., #400
Englewood, CO

Phone: (303)663-0880
Fax: (303)663-1617

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