In today’s competitive marketplace, if you don’t provide good service, you won’t attract or retain customers. Fitness businesses heavily rely on positive ‘word-of-mouth’ promotion by happy customers. Unhappy customers can also quickly spread messages about their experience dealing with your business. Here are some tips on how you can improve your customer service and prevent problems down the track.
Make the gym contract easy to read
A membership contract can be very overwhelming for consumers. They often do not read the details of the contract before they sign and therefore don't know their rights and obligations. Make the contract as concise as possible and increase the size of the text to make it easier to read. Use reasonably plain language and present the terms of the contract clearly. A clear, concise contract will tell your customers what they need to know and help avoid misunderstandings and conflict in the future.
Be honest and deliver on your promises
You should be open and honest with prospective customers. It’s a good idea to get potential members to initial major parts of the contract to show they have read them or highlight them in bold in the contract. Make sure your advertising and promotional material is not misleading and you can really deliver what you promise.
Separately list the fees
It’s helpful to give potential customers a separate sheet from the contract which lists all the fees. This will make sure your customers are fully informed and it reduces the risk of confusion and arguments later.
Explain how to cancel membership
Show members how they can cancel or suspend their membership and what fees will apply. If members have a valid reason for cancelling, you should not make it a difficult process. Remember, you may be losing their business, but making their cancellation difficult could see you lose potential business from their family and friends. A simple letter to the gym should be enough to arrange the cancellation. Some gyms expect a face-to-face interview but this might not also be appropriate.
Provide different membership options
It’s a good idea to offer a range of membership plans and payment options. Different deals suit different customers. Explain the different plans and leave it to the customer to choose which is right for them. This will also make your business more attractive than your competitors.
Offer a cooling-off period
Consider offering a cooling-off period or an obligation-free trial so customers can try out the gym before they sign up.
Less pressure, more time
Don't pressure consumers to sign up on the spot. Let them to take the contract home and read it. Make sure you give them enough time to make an informed decision.
Deal quickly with complaints
Have clear complaint handling procedures in place so they can be dealt with quickly and fairly. If you can’t come to an agreement with the customer, advise them to contact Fitness Australia (if your business is a member) or NSW Fair Trading (if not a member). Fair Trading can often negotiate between the parties, saving you time, energy and sometimes money.
Register your business name
If you conduct business as an individual and want to trade under a business name that is not your own name, you must register that business name. If you conduct business through a company and want to trade under a business name that is not the company's name, you must register that business name. To register, renew or search for a business name, visit the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) website.
If you effectively train your staff they should be aware of their obligations. NSW Fair Trading laws prohibit conduct that is unconscionable, misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive. Unconscionable conduct is when you take unfair advantage of vulnerable consumers. There are penalties for breaking the law.