The Gym

Like you perhaps I enjoy the gym. Focusing on nothing but physical activity is one the best things a knowledge worker can do to reduce stress.

Within the five block radius on my house are four different gyms and while I’ve looked into them all, there’s one I keep doing business with, even though it’s the furthest.

Now this story isn’t about gyms, it’s about generating business and retaining customers. If you know anything about the gym business you know it’s retention – and monthly debits – that count. They don’t actually want you to come in and use the equipment – that would mean maintenance costs for them- but they do want the monthly fee.

Your monthly fee.

So how to choose?

Gym one is a non-starter. Their sign is lavender and done in a nice script, and they’re located next to a Brazilian wax boutique (who knew about these?). It screams women, not men, not mixed, not me, but women. I have wisely left them alone. No business for you!

Gym two is a cool looking renovated garage where the workouts are out in the fresh air: that’s pretty nice actually as nothing is more stale than poorly conditioned gym air. They have a nice website and a great video that’s kind of fun and different. They also don’t have anyone over 30. Okay, I get it, maybe us older folks don’t come out in the same numbers, but we do come out. My real problem with number two though is that there’s no pricing on line – you’re required to call to get any info. See? You’re not making it easier for me to do business with you: I have to call you and I’m freaking busy. I don’t want to call you and have to deal with your pitch. And I don’t want to work out with 25 year olds unless I’m 25. I’m not.

On to gym three, the hard core place. This shop likes to boast its a real gym – no tvs, no blaring music. Works for me; I hate that stuff. But based on my visit there they don’t have maid service either – the place was dirty. Good news? Plenty of equipment if your thing is weights: they don’t do pools, saunas or yoga here. Bad news? They don’t communicate. While their pricing is easy to understand (and on line) they couldn’t answer an email. After I stopped in to look around I got a follow-up email from someone there inviting me to let them know if I had any questions. I did so I wrote them back. They never answered, so I wrote again. They never answered that note either (and yes, I used the right email address). See what happened there? They created a lead – me – and they blew it. They lost me by not following up. Want to do more business? Follow up.

Gym four is where I practice now. When married I went there because it was conveniently close to the house. After moving to the other side of the neighborhood I gave it up, but they got me back. You know how? They kept after me. Every month or so I’d get an email with a new update, service, pricing special, discount, etc. For almost a year they kept on sending me info and inviting me to come by or call. I went on line and checked their pricing – it was easily understood. The terms and conditions were clear, and the options made plain. They made it easy for me to do business with them.

They were also clearly co-ed, multi-generational and clean. So I said yes.

You see, this isn’t about gyms it’s about business. Each of the gyms I mentioned clearly has a target demographic and for the first three I wasn’t it. So maybe it’s good business to have a niche demo and go after them. But if you want to grow your business you’ll have to consider a larger demo and all of its needs.

And large demo or niche, if you want to succeed and sustain, you’ve got to make it easy for customers to do business with you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to work out.

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