Far too often you’ll hear this story come out of a group of gym owners -
“One of my coaches, who is a real dickhead, decided to quit 4 weeks ago. And today I found out that he’s opening up a gym down the street and has been sending private messages to my members. WTF!?! I’ve already had 3 cancellations submitted and I know it’s cause they are going to his gym because he’s offering some lowball rate.”
If you’ve heard this story, or had this thought process yourself. I want you to take a few minutes and give this a thorough read. Then I want you to read it again.
Generally, the verbage used in conjunction with these situations is “taken” or “stole”.
If you feel these verbs accurately describe your situation, then you need to be able to say YES to the following questions:
No. You fucking can’t. Cause you don’t own your members. They are fucking people with free will and they just so happened to exercise that virtue in an unfavorable (to you) manner.
You know that Rogue rig you have? Yeah…that awesome one that is phenomenally built, comes with more diverse attachments for fitness than any other company and their customer service always takes great care of you?
But what happens on Black Friday? Do you purchase from other equipment retailers because they’re offering better deals and free shipping??
How about that one time you were waiting around for your Uber and it took like 4 minutes longer than you wanted to wait…so you dialed up a Lyft???
Remember when you really wanted Chipotle, but you went at lunch and the mile-long line sold you on going across the street to Moe’s Southwest Grill instead?
There’s nothing wrong with shopping based on price. It’s the reason Amazon exists and you Prime everything you would typically buy direct from a retailer. Maybe some of your members, don’t buy into the “difference” in coaching? Maybe they don’t care if you offer the best fitness classes? They are looking for a deal- and guess what…you’re not a deal in their eyes.
Right or wrong, we don’t get to have an opinion. The markets makes the calls. We just have to roll with them
Here’s what’s probably going through your head right now -
“But Stu, I’ve done a phenomenal job treating all my athletes with respect and providing them the best service possible. There’s no reason for them to leave other than this other gym owner offered them bullshit lower rates.”
Do you really think you know exactly what your customer think of you and your service? Are you so naive to think that maybe…just maybe there are customers under your roof that aren’t exactly happy with the quality of service? That it’s maybe a possibility that they don’t like you?
Because I promise you this — their reason for leaving has more to do with the overall package of what you’re selling than it does for how much you’re selling it for.
Do people really leave one gym for another to save $20–30? I don’t think so. So if a disgruntled employee or customer leaves your facility to start their own and that results in an exodus from your customer base…don’t blame it on financial perseverance…blame it on a lack of self-awareness.
Microgym owners like to think we have an amazing pulse on the customer satisfaction of our business. That because we personally interact with the majority of our client base, that we know exactly how happy or unhappy they are with the service.
Well, those 10 clients that just up and left you…after being members for 24 months….to follow some other guy and become a patron of his business….well, that my friend, tells me you don’t have a pulse on shit.
If I listed out the infinite list of unfortunate occurrences that could happen to my business on any given day…and graded them on their ability to have a negative impact on my day…having a customer leave my business to go elsewhere would be at the very bottom.
But maybe that’s because I’m not emotional when it comes to business.
Business is a series of transactions. We each make hundreds of them each day. Often these transactions happen mindlessly and based on factors that sometimes have nothing to do with the business you’re actually doing the business with — timing, location, financial, mood — these are all variable that play into the decision making process each time you make a business transaction. Your customers are no different.
I don’t get emotional when I close a big personal training package + an unlimited gym membership worth $500/mo. The same way I don’t get emotional when someone cancels their membership after they’ve spent thousands of dollars with my business.
Do I want customers to leave my business? Absolutely not.
Do I realize there is no shortage of demand for fitness? Damn straight.
However, you tell Gym Owner Johnnie that you’re cancelling your membership because another guy opened up down the road and it’s closer to your kids school and he’s charging less and Gym Owner Johnnie has now marked you on his list of people to kill.
I’ve got good news though…there are plenty of fitness seeking individuals to go around. For every member that has left you to follow the other guy, there are 10 new members waiting to be introduced to your service.
I don’t care how many high-intensity group fitness models exist in your neighborhood. The demand still outweighs the supply.
Glassman said it best, “There’s no shortage of people looking to get fit. However, there is a large shortage of quality training facilities.”
This statement still reigns true in 2017 with 15,000 CrossFit affiliates, 600+ Orangetheory Fitness locations and 700+ Gold Gym locations worldwide.
So please take this away from this article -