Have you ever considered having your club audited? If not why not?
Many of those Leisure & General Managers who have work for the large health club and fitness chains will have at some point experienced the dread of the auditing team announcing themselves at their property. The hotel and hospitality companies often conduct these as a 2-3 day mystery shop prior to announcing and huge emphasis is placed upon the scores.
So why would these large corporations spend huge sums of money to have all their hotels and clubs audited. Just to point out at this point, auditing does not need to be an expenses process but with examples such as Marriott Hotels these audits cost millions of dollars to conduct due to the 5000+ hotels in their ranks.
The bigger groups will conduct these audits to:
1) To Ensure the brand is being represented as it should be
2) To ensure continuity of standards across all its facilities
3) To show their business owners and share holders that standards are being maintained at that the business is worth investing in
4) To reduce the potential risk of litigation due to unsafe or illegal practices
5) To judge service standards that could otherwise not be determined by a management walk round
6) To reduce the risk of loss of business due to poor standards in operations
7) To learn to the true challenges within a business
8) To understand the client experience
9) To drive sales. By mystery shopping the sales process you can ensure the delivery of the membership process is as strong as it can be
So why should leisure businesses follow the example set out by the hotel industry?
Simply put, because it works. Manager can easily become blind and complacent to their business challenges. By employing an independent team to review your operating standards, your operating procedures, your service delivery and member experience you can look to make positive change.
Independent auditors and mystery shoppers give you exactly that, a fresh review of your brand, product and service. There is a saying I learnt very early on "Perception is Reality", meaning that whatever the client sees is what they believe to be the reality. A dirty changing when, staff who don't engage with clients or broken kit that's not fixed in a timely manner can all give members/clients the wrong impression which can lead to higher attrition and lower profits.
A manager cannot be expected to see everything or to find a solution to every challenge. Knowing what their challenges are though will help to guide policy and procedures that lead to an effectively run business.
Audits should be seen as a way of improving a business, not a way of finding fault in a business. The sign of a strong business leader is how well they take feedback and implement change.
As a consultancy service we always advise our clients to have their business audited at least once a year, preferably twice a year to ensure they are on the top of their game. Membership sales mystery shops should be carried out monthly to make sure the team remain focused on their challenge and continue to deliver the same exceptional service every single time.
With more and more fitness products entering the market, every member is vital for survival. If a business is able to get a client to make contact you need to ensure every effort is made to convert them to a member. losing members due to poor process and standards is unforgivable.
In conclusion, we believe every club owner, regardless of size should employ an independent team to audit and mystery shop their business. Knowing your weak points and finding solutions will drive standards, reduce attrition, increase sales conversion and ultimately improve your client experience and more importantly to you, increased profits!
The large chains would never engage in such a process simply to show owners they are good at their job, they do it as it drives profit! simple as that