Fitness Matters: Keeping Up with the Joneses
By Bryan Green Founder & CEO, Advantage Fitness Products | April 01, 2010
Ask any hospitality professional and they'll tell you, the word management within the context of "facility management" is largely about managing customer expectations. Meeting, satisfying, and as much as possible, exceeding those expectations to maintain a happy customer base is what keeps them coming back. To help manage your fitness amenity, I've detailed a variety of ways that your team can effectively keep up with the "joneses" in pursuit of guest satisfaction-in this case, specifically addressing the ever-evolving expectations of travelers.
One might assume that effective support for the fitness facility would require continually arming your property with the latest and greatest high-tech (and often times expensive) exercise equipment, but that is hardly the case. While it's certainly important to maintain a commitment to refreshing your equipment, the daily solutions to maintaining customer satisfaction are far more practical and affordable.
In lieu of pre-maturely introducing new equipment, take good care of what you have. A commitment to consistent daily maintenance is essential. Equipment must be fully functional and working properly. Annoyingly squeaky components, poorly lubricated chains and gears, bent or broken weight pins or clamps... not only are these inconveniences to customers, but they can also be safety risks. The adage "safety first" can't be overstated due to the liability issues and potential legal damages and costs associated with injuries that can occur within your facility. And then there's the affect that "down" equipment has on customer expectations and satisfaction. The last thing you want is a guest entering your fitness center only to find that a piece of cardio or strength equipment is down and unavailable. With a hotel or resort, it can be a "one and done" situation where you get one shot to deliver a satisfying experience, or risk a black eye on the customer's experience that you can never take back. At the local health club, members are locked into long-term relationships with the facility so if a machine's down, the mindset is more "forgiving" because they're not necessarily going anywhere else and there's typically a wider variety of equipment options to meet their need. Not the case with a hotel or resort fitness center where the mindset is short term and the impact far greater when a piece of equipment is unavailable and there are not as many alternative pieces available. The solution here is simple and practical: have a certified fitness service provider on speed dial, and more importantly, arm your facility with a preventative maintenance agreement that provides a consistent level of service from a local provider that will minimize equipment malfunctions and related "down" time. Preventative maintenance agreements are not only effective, they typically represent a long-term cost-savings over the alternative of having to schedule one-off service appointments whenever a machine goes down. The costs involved in "fixing" far exceed the more basic costs of "maintaining." So do yourself a favor in arming yourselves with such an agreement.
As obvious as the importance is of safe and efficiently working equipment, appearance is also critical and can't be ignored. Trust me, if you ignore appearance, your guests will be unable to do the same. And it's not just about the aesthetic value, but more about the perception of neglect it can create. No matter how efficiently a piece of equipment may be functioning, if it doesn't look safe or appealing, it will have virtually the same effect on your customers as a piece of equipment that's broken down. Things like dull or rusted surfaces, worn cables, torn upholstery or soiled exercise mats create an impression of poor quality and potential safety hazards, even when they don't exist. Address this by a full staff commitment to a daily cleaning regimen, including a thorough wipe down of all surfaces and floors. And set aside a nominal budget to address the need for new upholstery covers when tears or fraying begin. In this case, a little budget will go a long way.