By Rick Caro
Club owners and GMs know that it is cost ineffective to continue to offer group exercise classes or other programs with minimal enrollment. Yet, lots of clubs do so. This is mainly due to the fear that the club is taking something from the member.
In fact, if handled individually and professionally, the members may actually support the cancellation and create positive word-of-mouth reviews of the club both inside the club premises as well as out in the local community.
Often, the Group Exercise Director needs some training and a little role playing to create a successful end result. The club needs to establish a minimal threshold of attendees over a period of time (e.g. maybe 4 straight weeks, not including a holiday week). Then, the Director needs to first inform the Instructor and give some warning. Ideally, the Director needs to identify each of the class attendees. She would then meet with each individually.
In one actual example of only two members in a class, the Director sat down with the first. She learned to her amazement that the member was uncomfortable in the class because the other student was much better than she and she felt that the teacher was always staring at her. In fact, if it had been a better attended class, she would have stood in the last row of the studio. She kept coming to the class because it was at a convenient time on a suitable day. Once the Director interviewed the member for other available times and other classes of interest, the student then asked questions about the class content and instructor.
She agreed to try a new class. The Group Exercise Director then emailed the instructor to relate the story and ask the instructor to introduce herself.
The Director then met with the second student. Again, she was very surprised to learn that this member was also dissatisfied with the class. She felt the instructor was “dumbing down” the class to accommodate the other student. Again, the Director interviewed this member and found another class (and a different one) for her to try. She then contacted that class instructor to ask for her a warm welcome of this member with a background of the facts.
A few days later, the Director tried to close the customer service loop and spoke to each member. Both were very satisfied with their new classes and their instructors. But, again to the Director’s utter amazement, both in each one’s own words claimed that was the first time the club had ever provided real service to them.
There is a lesson for all of us here.