Have you heard of the market research term Voice of the Customer? If not, you might take an interest in what it has to offer small gym business owners, even if you only have the resources to apply the principles and not the full process. If you want to get a better return on your gym business investment you need to hear what customers want and use that information to set benchmarks for the quality of the service you deliver.

Knowing What Your Customers Want

In the excellent leadership book, The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey declared that the second most important habit to cultivate for success is “beginning with the end in mind.” So, arguably, nothing is worse than getting to the end of the project only to discover that you have solved the wrong problem.focus-group

Covey’s book is a classic read if you want to be a better leader and manager, regardless of your profession or industry. In the field of marketing, one process that represents the second habit is determining what the customer wants before you attempt to define your product or service. That is why focus groups and similar events are so prevalent, and why it is worth applying a formal process to collecting information from them.

Communicating By Listening And Applying Voice Of The Customer For The Win

Voice of the Customer research is a system for learning how potential clients describe the functions and features that they want as the part of a given product or service; that takes a little bit of setup if you think about it.

First, the researchers have to find the customers to query. Then they have to put them together in an environment that is relaxed enough to bring out the information. Finally, the researchers have to track the information that they collect and analyze it to figure out what it all means.

A whole marketing profession exists around setting up focus groups or workshops to get the opinions of consumers. However, Voice of the Customer has applications in enterprise product development as well; it allows designers and developers to create prototypes for everything from SUVs to new software applications.

Voice Of The Customer Learnings For Small Gym Business Owners

I think that the first lesson to take away from this is the value of collecting information from the people you intend to serve as your customer base. Gyms are consumer service businesses, and it pays to know your members and which of their needs you can serve exceptionally well.

The fitness industry is about as competitive as any. If you research what it is that members most want, you have a chance to get the edge on all of the competitors who don’t bother to make an effort or don’t know to do it.

It is easy to assume that your members feel the same way as you or share the same values and goals. However, everyone is different, and it is a dangerous mistake to project our motives on others. Ask them what they want, and if you take the VOC approach and do it with a structured way of documenting what they want, then you can get the most information, and you have the best chance of turning it into actionable business intelligence.

Start doing the research now that will take you to the next level. An established fitness center will have different capabilities than a small gym working hard to get the first few members through the door.

Gym Insight Has Been Listening

In the design of the Gym Insight software, we made a special effort to understand what it is that our clients wanted to know about their businesses. We were most concerned about the problems and operational challenges that our users were facing. So, we asked them and we made sure to listen to their needs.

One thing that seems to be the most needed resource is just information about operations. We have developed a full suite of reporting tools within Insight. You can’t hit a target you can’t see, or even know what goal is worth shooting at necessarily if you don’t know where to find it.

Bibliography

Fagan, Lawrence. Gym Business Niches You Wish You Thought Of. May 29, 2015. https://blog.gyminsight.com/3374-gym-business-niches-you-wish-you-thought-of/ (accessed October 28, 2016).

James, Jeff. The Voice Of the Customer: Insights Can Only Be Heard if You Listen. October 11, 2016. http://www.business.com/sales-and-marketing/jeff-james-voice-of-the-customer/ (accessed October 28, 2016).

Summary of Steven R. Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. 2010. http://www.quickmba.com/mgmt/7hab/ (accessed October 28, 2016).

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