Yesterday, I wrote that “Your Clients Are Not Your Friends.” It’s a lesson that many of us have had to learn slowly, painfully, and repeatedly.
Many veteran gym owners weighed in with their own stories. But some also shared the other side of the coin:
“You still have to be friendly to everyone.”
Your gym attracts people by promising to solve their fitness problem. It keeps people through operational excellence (your systems) and strong relationships (the 1:1 coaching relationship, and the relationship with your other members.) Some call the latter their “community”.
All of those relationships flow from your example.
If you greet everyone with a smile, they’ll turn around and greet the next person with a smile.
If you hover behind a desk with your hood pulled up, and point people at the whiteboard to warm up on their own; or show up late, looking tired; or punish people who are two minutes late for class–well, they’ll just go and have a better experience somewhere else. Giving a client the best hour of their day means pulling them out of their funk, breaking through their boredom and cheering them up.
No one quits a gym because their coach doesn’t know enough. But plenty of people switch gyms because their coach is tired, or cranky, or not engaged. Hell, I don’t want to spend time around negative people either.
If you’re tired in the mornings, do the right thing for your clients: bring a bubbly part timer who will shout “GOOD MORNING!!” from the rooftops at 6am. If your days are long, replace yourself in the evenings. Find a part-time coach who’s not tired; not stressed; not distracted. (Read: The Case for Part-Time Coaches here).
Many Microgyms don’t survive. When they fail, it’s never because the owner lacked education. It’s almost never because the owner didn’t care enough. But it’s often because the owner didn’t smile, hug, or high-five. Trust me: I’m a natural introvert. Friendliness is the skill you need to develop most.
What kills gyms in their first year? A lack of clients. That’s why we build marketing mentorship into our Incubator now.
What kills gyms in their seventh year? The owner. The owner is burned out. The owner is exhausted. The owner is stressed. The owner is unhappy, and it shows. They can’t force the smile anymore. And there’s no “backstage” area in their gym; nowhere to hide their mood. If they’re still overworked and underpaid after five years of gym ownership, the owner is going to have a tougher time making a comeback. Usually, they’ve had hundreds of people walk through their doors by that point–more than enough–but haven’t kept those people. So they look for some marketing magic tricks, pump more strangers through, fail to bond with them, and just get more tired and stressed.
The difference is in your smile.
If you can’t smile at people, replace yourself. Put someone else in front of them. Work on attracting more people into their sticky web of joy. Or take a nap. Put your best face forward!