by Rick Caro
There are lots of detailed ways to do elaborate market analyses for your club in order to understand current market conditions. For some questions, there are some straightforward and low-cost research techniques to better evaluate the club in a specific area. For example, let’s suppose a club wants to better understand how its marketing efforts are working and gain deeper insight into the type of new member joining the club.
One foolproof method is to take the last 100 members who joined (or 200, if a large club in terms of membership levels) and ask them some questions. Typically, clubs divide the list up into groups of 10—20 per General Manager and each Department Head. In particular, it is effective not to ask the Sales Staff to participate. Each would be asked to telephone their list and complete the list in 7—10 days.
A folksy questionnaire might include a set of questions that are intended to be open-ended, with no “Yes-No” nor multiple-choice questions. The topics would include: what actually brought them into the club the time they visited for the first time, probing to find out how they have been hearing about the club in the weeks before they joined, what were their real reasons to join, what are their present goals (if any), whether they had ever been a member of a club before, how they got started in the club since they joined, what activities they are currently doing at the club and how they rate the club so far. You can also ask for any early suggestions.
The focus should be on how they heard about the club, what actually got them in the door and how their early experience is.
It is not to get referrals or ask them to do anything for the club at this point. It could lead, if the club is reaching members at the 30-45 day mark, to suggested club improvements for the new member integration process or member onboarding.
Finally, it has the benefit of educating all of the department heads about the club, including the child care department, front desk, maintenance, fitness, group exercise, bookkeeping/back office, etc. as well as the GM. This really empowers them.
This can be repeated every 3-4 months and become an invaluable tool. It can lead to understanding trends, especially if the members’ answers turn out to be different than the previous study.
This is a simple vehicle for all clubs to use.