Puttin’ on the Ritz

shutterstock_192925985Last month I wrote about the benefits you can have in your business by regularly getting input from people outside of the CrossFit world. I started with a few bits of knowledge dropped by my friend JB about customer service and leaving a lasting impact. There was way more to what he had to say than merely remembering someone’s name.

He told the story about how sometime back in the ‘90s he’d stayed at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Off handedly he mentioned to them that he preferred DASANI water to Aquafina and later that night found a gift basket with, among other things, DASANI waters waiting for him on his pillow when he returned to his room.  He said that it made him feel listened to and appreciated, but ultimately wrote it off as nothing.

By his own admission, JB’s story would have been a non-story if not for his second visit to the Ritz more than a decade later. By the time of his second visit, he had completely forgotten about the original gift of service. However, when he entered his room, there was another gift basket filled with DASANI water. He said that this experience versus his thousands of other hotel visits set the Ritz above the rest.  “They care enough about me to pay attention.”

What does this have to do with running a CrossFit gym? Everything.

Do a survey of the websites for the other Affiliates in your city. I’m willing to bet that all of them will claim to have “World Class Coaching,” “Tightest Community,” “Best value for your CrossFit experience” around. We all know that everybody can’t have the best around…  Somebody is the best. Somebody is the worst. And, a lot of gyms are just pretty good.

So, what sets you apart?

If when you opened, you were the only gym in town to offer childcare to your members while they worked out, that was something that made you unique. It was something that you could use as a point of differentiation and make selling your gym easier. But, as more gyms start offering childcare, it doesn’t take long before members begin to expect it as normal for any gym. At that point, childcare is no longer a selling point. If you don’t offer it, you’re behind the curve.

Great coaching isn’t enough. Great community isn’t enough. Cheap prices definitely aren’t the answer. You have to have systems and expectations in place that will set you apart in the minds of your customers and your potential customers.

Here are three ideas have worked wonders for us that you can implement today.

1)   Teach. Don’t just tell them what to do. Tell them why. Our goal at my gym is for each of our members to be more knowledgeable than the Coaches at all the other gyms in our city. We have an awesome city filled with great Affiliates, so this is a tall task. But, our members appreciate us letting them behind the curtain.

2)   Invest the majority (I’m talking 95 percent) of your attention on your current members. They already trust you and already believe in your product. Don’t neglect them in favor of the potential member. And honestly, the potential member is likely looking more at how you treat your current members as a factor in their decision to join.

3)   Call every visitor the day after his or her visit. Take a few minutes and talk through their experience. Let them know that there is more and you would love it if they came back. It’s better than trying to talk to someone immediately after they’ve finished a workout.

Hopefully, before long, these will be expectations of a normal CrossFit gym. Our brand is growing fast. This is good. As the market gets more saturated and competitive, it’ll force us to keep making improvements and striving for excellence across a broad range of service and coaching.

Charlie Sims was the owner of CrossFit Regeneration in Louisville, Kentucky.