Taking control of your gym’s business during the ongoing economic crisis caused by COVID-19 is not simple. It’s always been expensive to acquire new members-estimates suggest it costs 3x as much to lure a new client in the door as to keep the one you have. But in today’s uncertain environment, retaining and expanding your client base is both critical and complex.
So how can you maximize every relationship?
By understanding customers’ concerns, clearing up misunderstandings quickly, and using real-time information to make informed updates to your business model.
Nothing does this quicker than a survey. Surveys allow gyms to take the pulse of current, prospective and past customers while deepening relationships and stimulating active change, all through a few minutes-long interaction.
Time to Pivot
Blair McHaney, president and CEO of MXM, sent out a single-question survey to every member: "What’s most important when coming back?" The answers shocked him. Instead of focusing on gym cleanliness or safety, they were overwhelmingly directed at issues such as having to set an appointment or being watched while exercising. His team immediately realized clients were confused between what his gym could choose to do and what the state mandated. That simple feedback provided guidance for his next step: creating and distributing a video (his primary means of communicating with his customers) explaining his business’s decisions and the state government’s requirements.
In a time when clients are easy discouraged, a simple question cleared up a lot of confusion for his business.
Surveys work because they reveal what really matters to clients. In turn, this effective market intelligence helps companies keep more customers. Ironically, members want to help you. According to Vision Critical’s 2015 survey, 87 percent of survey-takers prefer having a say in a company’s future products and services.
Luckily, there are as many ways to take a survey today as there are exercise routines. The question becomes how closely integrated into your business software do you wish it to be. The better-known online tools with survey templates include:
These products allow you to get up and running quickly by providing frameworks and easy-to-initiate and deploy designs.
Survey software and customer relationship management tools work off platforms that help you manage and design your market research, extending into measuring customer satisfactionand collecting employee feedback, among other applications. These systems frequently collect the data and analyze the results for you. By investing in a comprehensive system, it’s simpler to build a composite picture of your customer base, tracing changes over time that can reveal trends or weaknesses in your offerings.
Integrated systems can also make it easier to pop off "net promoter score" (NPS) surveys that let members score your business according to how likely they are to refer your gym. This simple one-question survey reveals who is happy with your services and who needs a follow-up phone call to discuss concerns.
Quick and Easy Tips to Building a Survey
1. Determine the survey’s purpose. Is it to build market research, gain new customers, check in with existing customers, or find out why they cancelled their membership? If it’s for new customers, for example, have them complete a survey upon joining. It will give insight into the types of people who use your gym and pinpoint key motivators. Exit surveys of clients dropping their membership can help to fix underlying problems before they affect overall member retention. The survey’s purpose drives the timing, questions, design, and use of the final information.
2. Create questions with the end game in mind. All your questions should meet your objectives and exist to reflect the goals of your club. Try not to ask questions just out of curiosity or about things that do not exist yet, e.g., "How would you react if…?"
3. Test questions on staff or friends prior to launching.Once you hit the "send" button there is no taking the survey back, so make sure it’s right the first time. Industry standard suggests testing it on up to five respondents. Ask these participants to share their impressions or concerns. Time the survey. If it takes too long, consider deleting a few questions.
4. Avoid long and detailed surveysas it is difficult to keep people’s attention. Your intention is to use your existingrelationships to create the best gym possible for customers. Don’t abuse the privilege of access by asking too much of their time, probing into personal issues, or framing a question that may cause embarrassment.
5. Questions should be simpleand not affect the answer. Start with general questions and move on to specific ones, leaving difficult subject matter and personal data requests for last.
6. There are multiple kinds of question formats. The most common are:a. Yes/no questionsb. Multiple choice questionsc. Scale questionsd. Open-ended questions
7. Make the survey visually appealing. The color palette should be calm, and the font large enough to accommodate most eyesight issues. Stick to one-column structure and make sure there is a lot of visual contrast between the question and answer options. If using online surveys,enable the "submit" button after each question or group of questions to ensure none are skipped or overlooked.
8. Most surveys are deployed through email, but pen and paper, in person or by phone may be reasonable options as well. If you have a significant online presence, consider using social media as an easy and effective way to reach prospective or former members. Just make sure it reflectsyour customers’ own priorities and interests, as viewers react most positively to content that is useful to themselves.
Use the information! Take the time to summarize and analyze results. These snapshots can drive future marketing strategies, fundamental pricing or offering updates, or contribute to better customer relations.
Remember to share results of the survey with your customers and immediately respond to negative feedback. Facing the music, so to speak, sows loyalty and understanding on behalf of customers and may keep someone off the former customer list.
In the long run, surveys build your gym’s economic resilience by shining a spotlight on both unknown problems and unrecognized strengths. They’ll become a valuable tool in your fight to survive the shock of COVID’s industry impact.