Third Party Confirmations
I was just reading the results of a really interesting small business survey, and the discussion about it, on the Club Solutions Website. The point was that community and reviews lead as the driving forces for growth across the spectrum of small businesses.
Of 6,000 survey respondents, eleven percent were gym members. The survey showed that there is growth in the economy, small businesses get the most return by providing community, and that small businesses, including gyms, get a lot of mileage from reviews posted by members. The article went on to say that these reviews provide highly valued, third party validations that consumers look to as trusted information.
Transactional Stranger Danger
Initially, you engage in transactions but these will become valuable to you when they begin to blossom into relationships. This strongly supports the sort of things I have been thinking and writing in the Gym Insight Blog since… well, since the beginning.
A transaction is the most minimal and marginal exchange of goods and services for immediate payment. I visualize it as a buyer and seller, each extending their right hands with goods or cash and grasping for the contents of the other’s right hand with their left, in an awkward face-off; both parties driven by fear and loathing to get the transaction done as fast as possible.
Comical as that may sound, it illustrates the basics of trading. The one thing that can make the experience more palatable is the trust that grows in any kind of positive relationship.
Know Plus Like And Trust Equals Relationship
A relationship based on positive experiences, between your small gym business and its members, will help you to build your business and succeed by reducing the cost of each new sale. If you start out with a few transactions with adventurous people who will risk your service it’s a lead into further customers who trust third party reviews to give them the information to make safe choices. So, your objective in that first transaction is as follows:
- Impress them with service and lead them into a great membership experience
- Incite them to help spread the word of the value that you provide
- Win written reviews on social media and review sites from them
This is the marketing concept that drives every initial offer and discount that businesses give. Any positive reviews they publish will become the social proof that your gym is the right one for members like them.
With these first memberships and reviews under your belt, bringing in new customers will never be so difficult again. The sorts of third party reviews revealed by the survey are the product of the relationship you have built with them. Your initial transactions and your hard work to encourage new members to know, like and trust you.
The One Thing That People Really Buy
The final point above is so, so very important in relationship building, there is no doubt in my mind that you should ask for reviews. It is like the counterbalance to asking for the sale at the point where and when you think potential new members are ready. Getting reviews helps to consolidate the sale and shows that you are unafraid of feedback, which shows your confidence in your service.
People purchase items and memberships but what they really buy is you. Before they agree to your offer they need to have a sense that they know you, that they like you and that they can trust you. The degree to which they have to feel these things varies from person to person.
However, it is universally true of customers that it is you that they have to accept before they make a purchase. This is because people innately understand that it’s not the product or service that could disappoint them, it’s the person who sold it to them.
This survey stands as a reminder of the fact that a gym is a "people" business. It is the sense of community and human connection that members seek. After all, they could easily do most of what they do in your gym at home in their garage, rec room or backyard.
Remember this and use it as a motivator to refresh your sales techniques. Remind everyone that customer service is about creating that connection and thrilling the membership on a daily basis. Remember to ask for sales and then follow up with solicitations for reviews, for the win!
Fagan, Lawrence. Sales And Presentation Skills Revisited. January 12, 2015. https://blog.gyminsight.com/3151-sales-and-presentation-skills-revisited/ (accessed October 17, 2015).
Harbourne, Emily. Insight From New Small Business Survey. October 15, 2015. https://clubsolutionsmagazine.com/2015/10/insight-from-new-small-business-survey/ (accessed October 16, 2015).