Let’s face it, we all have a good laugh about those typical gym stereotypes we read about and often see at the gym.
If I see someone spending more time on their mobile phone texting furiously away, I wonder just how serious they are about their training (oh and if this happens in my class, I tell them to get off Tinder right now – fellow instructors this usually works a treat).
If I see someone taking selfies at the gym, making sure there isn’t a hair out of place, or spending all their time admiring their image in the mirror, then I know they are paying more attention to how they look than working hard.
Yes first impressions count. But now I need you to ask the question, what sort of impression does your fitness business or sporting club make? And I am talking about both the online and offline world.
So let’s start with the online domain – your Web site and social media channels.
Does your Web site accurately reflect your brand? Do you have lots of bright and colourful pictures of people working out, looking healthy and enjoying themselves? Do you have a modern design to your site? Do you have testimonials or success stories? Is the site easy to navigate and simple to read? Is there enough information so a person knows what you offer and, more importantly, the benefits joining with you will bring?
A Web site is often the first thing a person will look at before they even visit your club, so if it looks out of date, complicated, slow, way too much text, daggy, then people will assume your business is the same and probably give you the flick.
Now let’s turn to social media – is your profile complete and accurate? Do you have consistent and interesting posts or tweets? Do you use lots of eye catching pictures and videos? Do you ask for member’s opinions? Do you run exciting competitions and promotions?
If you haven’t posted anything for weeks or maybe months, most of the posts comprise of motivation quotes or funny lines, your profile looks incomplete or just plain ugly, people will probably think you don’t care a lot which may reflect on how you treat your members. Again a prospective lead may give you a wide birth.
If we now go to your physical centre, how does it look when you first visit – before you even walk inside? Is your signage well appointed? Does the building look presentable? Is it well lit (especially at night time), is the area clean and safe? Are the windows spotless and there is no rubbish around?
Because if it looks grotty, unclean, if there is crap everywhere, it appears unsafe, paint peeling, signage fading, chances are I am going to turn around and go somewhere else.
So now we go inside, let’s look around. The staff at the front desk – do they smile, are they friendly, are they generally interested in you, do they offer to give you a tour of the facilities and answer any questions you have?
If your staff are rude, surly, spend all their time on their mobile phone (yes maybe on Tinder), or give you the impression they would rather be anywhere in the world than talking to you, then it is doubtful whether the person will take a step into the centre but hightail it out of there.
Now assuming the person is looking around the club – is your equipment modern and working? Do the machines appear well maintained?
If your machines and equipment look like they came from a previous era, there are lots of “out of order signs” on machines, if the equipment looks second hand, unsafe to use, or start to make more noise than you if you were using it, then to me this shows management don’t want to spend much money so why should I then spend any money with you?
The group fitness area – is it neat with everything packed away? Is there a loud and pumping stereo system? Are the mirrors clean? If there is carpet does it look to be regularly cleaned and stain (and smell) free? If there are floorboards, are they in good condition? Are the bikes working properly or do they seem they were in the Tour De France and need major repairs? Is the timetable up to date? Does the air conditioning work? Do the instructors seem motivated and caring? To a group fitness junkie, these things are critical and is often the make or break of joining a gym.
Never underestimate just how important the bathroom is (especially for us girls). Just like if you were inspecting a house to buy, the bathroom is one of the most important areas. Is it modern and well appointed? Are the toilets extra clean – and please ensure there is more than enough toilet paper. Are there enough lockers for everyone to use? Do you see people cleaning the bathrooms or at least a schedule of when the bathrooms were cleaned? Do the showers look in good nick?
Because let me tell you, if your bathroom looks like I am likely to catch a nasty disease if I step foot in the shower, if there is a smell that shouldn’t be in any part of the club, if the tiles are cracked or broken, showers are grimy, long hair all over the floor, toilets are running or bins overflowing – yuk I am out of there!
If your centre is dirty, the equipment is out of date, most of the machines don’t work, the facilities are tired, there is a bad smell lingering in high traffic areas, or staff are unfriendly, it doesn’t matter how fantastic your marketing is, how great your social media is or what wonderful promotions you have, people will not want to join. If you can’t keep your facilities up to scratch, what does this say about how you will treat your loyal members.
So always remember first impressions count – you usually don’t get a second chance to make an impact.