Make Customer Experience Part of Your Gym's Business Plan

A well-developed business plan incorporates customer experience that only your health club can offer.

If you’ve been focusing solely on creating the best customer experience at your health club, you might wonder when your payoff is coming.

But without implementing your customer service vision as part of your business plan, all you have is customer service that is likely the same offering as the club down the street, and the payoff might never come.

A good plan will use technology and staff training as tools to create experiences that fit your vision and your business model, says Luke Carlson, CEO of Discover Strength in Bloomington, MN. Carlson will speak on the topic during his Wednesday, March 21 IHRSA 2018 session, “Crafting the Customer Experience: The Untapped Competitive Advantage.”

“Delivering excellent customer service or customer experience isn’t the objective; the end objective is to deliver said experience in a scalable and profitable way,” he says. Instead of investing all your money and effort to improve the customer experience, step back to understand what makes sense for your club. In many cases, chasing the best customer experience possible isn’t profitable or desirable, says Carlson.

“A customer experience initiative must be aligned with the broader business strategy and brand of the club,” he says.

Member Retention Luke Carlson2 Column

Luke Carlson, CEO of Discover Strength

Technology Is a Tool, Not an End

Technology is not the sole solution to customer experience, says Carlson. “Technology is only valuable if it is integrated to support the broader customer service vision.”

While technology enables a club to reach customers through various channels, it must be used carefully. Carlson advises thoughtful planning across all channels to allow the customer to consistently benefit from or enjoy the unique value proposition you have to offer.

He uses several technologies to enhance customer experience, including a proprietary app that trainers use on the floor to train clients and share feedback. The club also uses a scheduling app, which Carlson says is “incredibly efficient for the busy client,” and aligns with his club’s goal of being time efficient for clients. He also uses social media to reinforce how his club is different, and a website as his most powerful sales tool, aligning again with a time-efficient customer experience strategy.

“A customer experience initiative must be aligned with the broader business strategy and brand of the club.”

Luke Carlson, CEO

Discover Strength, Bloomington, MN

Share Your Vision with Staff

If staff don’t know the plan, they can’t help to bring it to fruition, says Carlson.

“In clubs that I’ve been in around the world, personal trainers and fitness trainers, if asked, could provide 10, 20, or maybe 100 exercise and fitness tenets. That is, they have a tremendous foundation of knowledge. However, if you asked the front desk staff, the sales team, the fitness staff, or the club owner, ‘Can you please tell me 10 or 20 of the key customer experience tenets?’ We would hear either no response or a fumbling through clichés that are anything but alive in the club,” says Carlson.

“Ultimately, the customer experience vision and comprehensive plan should be palatable when a customer walks into the club, interacts via email, website, social media, or proprietary applications and should serve to differentiate the club.”

Learn more about IHRSA 2018, March 21-24 in San Diego.

Tami Swartz

Tami Swartz is a contributor to