Managing member behaviour as you transition back into gym life


What’s the best way to build confidence amongst members when it comes to reopening the doors of your club? How can you communicate rules relating to Covid-19 and ensure they are followed by all?

There's an increasing amount of speculation and information about the process of reopening gyms, but very little so far to do with training staff on how to cope and deal with reopening when it comes to the actual member experience.


Visual prompts to guide members

One of the things to be aware of, is that we often take our cues from visual prompts. When we see a red traffic light, we know it’s a signal to stop, but the traffic light doesn't actually stop us. It's just a signal.

When it comes to reopening gyms, we can use visual prompts to help our customers behave the way we need them to behave at this time.

Visual prompts need to be both before, during, and after their visit. Adam Zeittsiff's team at Gold's in the US are preparing to open some of their clubs and have created signage outside, signage at reception and signage in the club. These are double-sided signs so that people see the messages on the way in, but also on the way out. The information is presented in a really easy way for them to understand. 


Communication is key

Shifting people's behaviour can be fairly straightforward if they are highly motivated and if we make it easy for them.

We're going to need to communicate with members even before they turn up to the club for their first visit and we can do this through video, email, text or even phone calls.

Videos are a great way to build confidence, competence and trust. 

Confidence – let them see that we have taken this seriously and we are acting on it.

Competence – demonstrate that we know how to clean and we can keep our facilities clean.

Trust – comes about when we prove our competence and increase the confidence of our customers.


The emotional state of members

Trust is particularly important because many people will be suffering stress and anxiety, both around the environment where they live or work, as well as entering an exercise environment after a prolonged period of being away.

Some of our members will be looking to use clubs as a place for some time to themselves, so we want to try and manage the stress that they are going to experience when they come in. They may be suffering from anxiety or depression due to lockdown and being isolated for many weeks at home.  

We will also have customers who will be suffering from bereavement. They will have lost loved ones, friends, family and colleagues, and therefore we need to be mindful about the way we communicate to ensure we don't trivialize the situation.


Super hero members


I've broken down the members that we have within our clubs into three types. The first type I've called the Super Heroes. They are keen and careless and are likely to be at the door the moment you reopen.

They may bring with them an attitude that is, ‘I'm immune to the coronavirus, I'm fit, I'm healthy, I'm a Super Hero, nothing's going to affect me.’

The challenge with some of these customers is they will disregard the rules which could cause anxiety and fear in other members. While some of our customers will be trying to maintain social distance, Super Heroes won't worry about that at all and might move into another member's space. Super heroes are likely to default back to their previous behaviours as soon as they come into the facility.


Observer members 

The second group are the Observers. They are cautious and careful. They may not be back in the first week. They might like to see what's going on, to get a sense of any feedback on social media or news channels. They're going to need reassurance and we are going to have to prove to them that we are worthy of their trust and loyalty. We have to communicate clearly with them and explain what we've done, how we’ve done it, why we've done it, and back that up with evidence. 

These people are going to be vigilant about rules. They are going to be watching how staff behave. They're going to be expecting staff to take action when super heroes disregard the rules.

Observer members should be thanked for following rules. It’s important that staff acknowledge their good behaviour and show gratitude for the way they are acting respectfully at the club.


Scared members


The third group of people are full of fear and have a tendency to worry. I’ve called them the Scared members.

These people may be vulnerable to the coronavirus due to their age or underlying health conditions and are likely to turn up wearing face masks and gloves. They are going to be the ones who bring their own hand sanitizer and they may even bring their own cleaning products. 

They won't come until they feel safe. We need to show them how our club is safe. This can be done through your social media and through follow up videos and testimonials with people who are already using the gym. 

If you thought that the Observers were vigilant, the Scared are going to be hyper vigilant.

They will follow the rules and in fact they may impose stricter rules on themselves. They will get angry with rule breakers, they will get angry with lack of enforcement and they will get angry with you.

They are also likely to be the people who go to the press or go online to report their anger over rules that are not being followed. They may also record video on their phones along the lines of, ‘look at this group of people standing around chatting’. 


Set up clear rules and make staff stick to them

What’s the best way to manage the behaviour of these three very different types of members? By setting up and communicating very clear rules and consequences. 

Every member of staff needs to understand and be willing to enforce rules. We must be prepared to exclude super heroes from training if they continuously break the rules.

Staff should lead by example. Nothing would be more damaging to your reputation once you reopen than to have your own staff breaking the rules you have set in place.


Examples of club rules: 

  • We will only allow 20 people to exercise in the club at any one time.

  • We have a one-in-one-out policy which means you might be asked to wait outside the club for a period of time.

  • During your visit, we will ask you to wipe down equipment after use.

  • We will be cleaning X number of times per day. 

  • We have provided marking on floors to indicate social distancing rules.

  • Staff may remind you of new rules on occasions when you revert to pre-coronavirus behaviour.

Testimonials are powerful

If you can, get testimonial videos as early as possible from customers who have returned. It doesn't need to be very sophisticated. Grab a quick testimonial and get it up on your social media pages. Ask customers to describe the cleaning and social distancing rules and how they are being implemented and respected.

You also want to get them to talk about how they enjoyed their workout. Do this by asking leading questions such as; please describe how much you enjoyed your workout today.

Hopefully this has given you a few ideas on top of the stuff you've already created for yourself. If you haven’t already subscribed to my mailing list, sign up now to receive four exclusive micro lessons with content on staff training.

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