by Steve Ayers
As I look back into my youth, the idea of full-service to consumers was most transparent in gas stations and banks. I fondly remember driving to the gas station and sitting in the car while the attendants came out and pumped your gas, cleaned your windows and checked the fluids in your car. Banks were staffed with rows of tellers waiting to handle all aspects of your banking needs, whether it was opening a savings account, applying for a home loan, or making a deposit. However, today consumers view full-service and great customer service based on today’s technology. They enjoy having the ability to use their credit card at the pump to purchase gas, transfer funds on-line in their PJ’s and to apply for a home loan on-line while sitting by the pool.
The fitness industry’s model shift over the past few years has been much of the same. Based on consumer demand and the technological advances, the industry has shifted from a large support and sales staff, to on-line membership sign-up, class scheduling, billing updates and now in-gym member kiosks and smart phone member check-in.
Today, customers want more control of how and when they interact with businesses, including their health club. They want to be able to gain access to their billing and check-in information when and where it is most convenient to them as the consumer. They want to be able to sign-up for a group fitness class or join as a member from their home computer, laptop or smart phone when it is convenient for them, without having to drive to the club and wait to be assisted. This model shift, when embraced by the club, can not only increase the member experience, but can also help make the club more efficient and profitable. This in turn helps the club lower costs, improve efficiencies and prevents transaction errors due to automation and technology.
Industry leading software and billing providers have made this model shift possible through these many technological advances. The added value of check-in kiosks, on-line and kiosk membership sign-up, on-line view and printing of billing history, on-line trainer schedules, and IPhone apps have all streamlined the way we do business. And by allowing member self service to be the new full service, we are helping leverage operational efficacy and ultimately ensuring PCI compliance, which takes the fitness industry to a new and welcomed level of revolutionary.