5 Things That Will Help You Improve Your Service Standards by Jean-Claude Vacassin

I’m passionate about my W10 gyms and the standard of the UK independent gym industry as a whole.

I got into the industry to make an impact. I wanted to make a living too, of course, but providing a good service, one that people raved about, has always been my main driver. And this has been how we have approached everything we’ve done in our W10 gyms and the approach that I vehemently encourage other gyms owners to take. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to work in the industry for over ten years, as a personal trainer, studio owner and more recently as the founder of a scaled gym membership model.  I’ve grown and sold studio-based personal training business and successfully overseen the opening of three of my own gyms (and the subsequent sale of one of them). I have also worked as a consultant for corporate and hotel clients, helping them design, build, open and manage multiple gym sites. So, I’ve seen a fair few facilities over my time.   

Over the past few years, I have also set up a coaching group for independent gyms, where I help other facility owners develop and grow their businesses. Each gym work with has a different model and reason for existing – as they should – but every single one of them is making significant improvements and growing because they are focusing on two key things:  service and standards, the bedrock of every single successful gym that I have been involved with.  

What The Best Gyms Focus On

The best gyms arnot focusing primarily on sales and marketing, they are focusing on the quality of service that they offer their members and the overall operational standards of their gyms.  

I’m obsessive about service and standards.  Sure, I might be a little OCDbut I don’t want to become an expert in marketing.  I want a business that will thrive without me needing to be, one where people stay for the long haul, so that sales and marketing don’t need to take over. Of course, we have sales and marketing budgets and processes, but we have always worked on the premise that it is easier to keep clients than it is to gain new ones.  So we make sure that we treat everyone who comes through our doors like it is their first session and could potentially be their last.   

Everything you do says, “I give a shit”, or not.  

There is no middle ground, and your customers and potential customers will judge you accordingly.     

Our W10 gyms have been built upon retention and referrals.  We don’t have talents or knowledge that other personal trainers lack.  But we are relentless in our pursuit of delivering the best possible customer experience.  And we’re consistent with this.  The small things done every day become huge.  Nobody wants to roll the towels, empty the towels bins or wipe the dumbbell rack, but these things matter and they need to be done daily (physically and metaphorically) 

Listen to Jean-Claude on the LTB Podcast

Five Things You Can Do To Up Your Service Standards

1. Get Your Hands Dirty  

One of the things that always irks me when I visit many independent gyms is how dirty they are.  There’s absolutely no excuse for this.  And its one of the things that your, particularly female, clientele will pick up on.  Most big-big gyms have kit that is covered in sweat and filthy changing rooms, so its a very easy way to take a march on them.  You need to be prepared to shovel the shit.  

2. Do The Work 

Whether you like it or not, success in any service-based business will require long hours and lots of work, much of it of it very unglamorous.   Running a successful gym is multi-faced – programming, coaching, systems, standards, sales, marketing, staffing and so on – all of which are important.  Sure you’ll need to dial in on different areas at various times, but you need to be prepared to do the hours and tick the various boxes if you want to be stand out.   

3. Obsess About Member Journey   

How your business speaks to your customers is critical, both on and off the gym floor.  In the gym itself, do the member walk.  Start at the front door and literally trace your member steps from the minute they walk in the door.  Are the front areas tidy, the towels folded, the changing room doors clean, the changing rooms straightened out and the gym floor photoshoot ready? If not, get them so.  

4. Get Your Team Onboard   

One of the biggest challenges that many many gym owners face is that of finding and retaining good people.  You need people that share your core values and work ethic.  You need people who are talented and energetic.  And you need people who care about your customer the same way you do. So you need to pay and develop people in the same way that you would do yourself.  No exceptions.   

5. Know Your Numbers  

Most of us got into the fitness industry to change lives, not manage spreadsheets and talk KPIs. If nothing else, you need to be able to measure where people interact with your business and where it falls down.  Because only then can you improve where it breaks.  

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