I’ve been a member of LA Fitness, on and off, for about the last 14 years. Like most, I had the occasional curiosity about what other gyms may offer me and tried Total Fitness (an expensive community sports centre) Fitspace (where there’s no frills and no service), David Lloyd (soooo overpriced with the only extra being on an site Costa with way too much cake on offer). So I stuck with LA Fitness. And then Sports Direct took over.
There was much talk before spin classes about how they might reduce services in order to make a quick buck. How they were going to be getting rid of the pool which was so good for little people to go in due to its sloping lead in. And then, new members were being offered much reduced membership fees. Its fair to say that we regulars were up in arms……..inbetween working up a productive sweat obviously!
Well, to be honest, its still very early days but today I had a great example of customer service from the Lincoln South West Club. I queried my membership fees and within 5 minutes and a quick update of details my membership will now be £25 per month. Brilliant. Also, was updated that the club is to be re-furbished next week with a new bigger spin studio, an extended gym area and a much needed update to the changing rooms. Plus, the pool is staying, hurrah.
I do really think the club will be much better as a result of the takeover from a functional and visual perspective but I do think that Sports Direct could do much more than that. Customer engagement and communication during the process has been limited………..well, I received just the one letter letting me know there would be a brand change. I really think they could be missing a trick here. Our club in particular has a pretty good level of regular and loyal members which can really be built on. Rather than a cosmetic refurb of the gym, how about making it a club again, a community. Engage with the membership, consider encouraging more social events and maximise the onsite Café facilities (& subsequently revenue), bring people together for some team charity events (great for morale, good causes and PR). I think what I’m saying is don’t just chase chase chase the new memberships, retain the existing members, build on their loyalty and, because lets face it that we’re talking about a business here, increase the spend per head per visit by offering some additional services, activities and engagement opportunities – everyone wins.
Lets see how the refurbishment goes, but I for one am uncharacteristically excited by a competitive membership fee and improved services – which is a very rare thing all round!