Over the weekend I was at a party and was talking with a friend of mine who is in sales in another industry. He was telling about his frustrations from a recent meeting with a prospect. As my friend learned more about the company and their needs he shared with him some possible solutions. The prospect was looking at them and admitted that his customers would benefit from them but kept saying “But I don’t like that.” I could easily see why my friend was frustrated. After all, there is NO I in Customer!

As business owners and managers, the path to victory is actually quite simple. Listen to our customers and solve their problems! If you can solve their problems better than your competitors, you win. The issue is often that we let our own opinions or ego cloud our judgement. We simply aren’t listening. Let’s take a look.

What is listening? To truly listen we must understand the information we are receiving. This is very different from hearing - which is simply the reception of sound! It’s important to also understand that listening is not solely audible. We can listen through our eyes and our observations. It’s no secret that some of our customers are much more vocal than others. They have no problem telling you their opinion, or letting you know about this problem or that one. Often times, because they are vocal, their opinions become magnified and can blow a situation or need out of proportion.

A common example in the health clubs is hearing from a member or even a trainer things like, “EVERYONE is asking for more open space”. “NO-ONE is using the machines any more”. Most times such statements of extreme are a clear indication of bias. Sure there are trends that we need to be aware of but that’s why its important to rely on observation and data. I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years and for the last 10 I’ve been hearing how no-one is using selectorized machines anymore. However data shows that over 40% of members incorporate these machines in every workout! Simply looking around the fitness floor will confirm that they are used regularly by a large portion of the members at any given time.

The other common issue in today’s fitness industry is the bias towards catering to the personal and small group training segments of our membership. Understandably, this is an area clubs want to focus on because there is more revenue per member here. With the proliferation of low price memberships clubs have to make up that revenue from non-dues sources. This is where classes and training really come in. So once again, if we are hearing the business need for increased revenue as opposed to listening to the data, we could make short term decisions that can negatively affect the long term result. The data tells us that the average club has training penetration rate of 8-12%. That means that only 8-12% of the membership uses training services. Or that 88-92% DO NOT! So should your club offerings ignore these members? I hope not. If you keep this segment of the membership happy and successful, they keep coming back. If they keep coming back you have a greater opportunity to turn them in to training clients!

Finally lets take a look at what YOU like. We all have our biases toward things that we personally like, or things that work for us. Often times part of our job is to use our expertise to help guide the direction of the club. However, we are not everyone. We can can't pick only what we like, as we may be at a very different place in our fitness journey. If we are going to be in charge of equipment selection and programming for a club that has thousands of members then we have to try and think like thousands of members. It’s never wise to try and be everything to everyone, but if you are opening the doors to all, then they all need to be considered. You have to put yourself in the shoes of the new member, the scared member, the intimidated, not just the super fit and lifelong exerciser!

Remember, the beginner only becomes the intermediate and the advanced if they stick with the program and make fitness a permeant part of their lives.

At The Abs Company we believe that FITNESS CHANGES LIVES. I’m sure that you believe the same thing or you wouldn’t be so passionate about the industry. To truly change a life we have to meet people where they are and then guide them along the path. It’s not about US - It’s about THEM and if we take the time to really listen we can help them WIN. In turn we will also.

We have a complete selection of core based functional training equipment to server your members wherever they are in the fitness journey. We are LISTENING and here to help. Just ask!