‘This is not rocket science – you just have to care’
Reece has coffee with Hollie from SNAP Fitness, Henderson
Meet Hollie, from SNAP Fitness Henderson. Hollie came to NZ from Melbourne via central Queensland (Yeppon, Rockhampton) which is where she first got introduced to the fitness industry and the SNAP brand. There she was responsible for generating leads and closing sales. Hollie focused a lot on social media during her 4-year stint there. Hollie joined SNAP McCarthy Group March 2017.
What Hollie achieved in the first 12 months in the Henderson club is pretty remarkable. With an aging club, tired equipment and a declining membership base Hollie took the bull by the horns and grew the club by more than 300 members (more than 35%). Net growth of more than 300 members in a year – that’s pretty bloody good.
I was interested to know what she did and how she went about it – so we had a coffee.
“First up” Hollie says, “I’m not a trainer, I rely on others around me. I’m just an ordinary person – I know what it is like to feel a bit anxious walking into a gym. ‘Oh my god – they’re gonna judge me’ in which case I treat the people who walk in as if they are feeling that way”.
“The club and equipment was getting a bit worn and it felt like everyone was just waiting for the upgrade to put a bit of effort in”.
Remember that this club is on Lincoln Road in Henderson, West Auckland – a highly competitive landscape with most of the big names present including a fabulous Council aquatic centre and the Trust Stadium facility all within 1 – 2 kms. Jetts is just up the road. Les Mills New Lynn is only 8 km’s away. Hollie estimates there are up to 30 exercise facilities within a 5 km radius.
So what did Hollie do?
“I really wanted to know that all our members were. I went to talk to people. Lots of gyms may have let him down – or at least they feel let down. Ordinary Joe Blow who had a few kilos to lose. I knew that they chose us to help them with that – and I wasn’t going to let them down – often as they had been before. I asked about their support at home, who does the cooking. I asked about how their experience at the gym had been – has someone shown you how to use the gear”.
Hollie freely admits that talking to people is a strong point of hers.
“I would book them into small group classes”.
Hollie quickly got a reading on the staff there – “I felt like trainers perhaps had lost a bit of pride in the facility – it felt overdue for a refit. Maybe they had given up a little. Maybe the staff felt that other clubs in the chain were looking down at them”. “I was pretty relentless on the small things like uniforms, timeliness, manners – that sort of thing”.
Slowly the staff pride began to build. Class number grew. The culture was shifting.
Takeout # 1
A] Find out what the members are up to
B] Build the business up from the inside out – start with staff
Hollie was very quick to acknowledge the support and hard work of the trainers there – Anthony, Mohi & Warren. And having met these guys I can see exactly what she means.
There are lots of things for members to be involved in if they choose.
“Every month we were doing things. One month it’ll be a fundraiser for breast cancer. Or free community boot camps at Bethell’s sand dunes Then it might be dress up days – all the boys got into it. Family days out of the club”.
On one wall on the club there are literally hundreds of coloured postit notes stuck to the wall. I asked Hollie about the purpose of those – “This is the wall where our members write their hopes and dreams for 2018, it started off as a small board and grew from there. Being a bit of a tidy freak, I wasn’t sure about sticking them to the wall – then I thought ah what the hell”
“It has become a talking point. When we are touring prospective members, they take the time to read them. Goals are relatable”
Takeout # 2
It’s never just one thing – it’s often the culmination of a huge number of small things that’ll make the difference.
I spoke to Hollie about what she was most proud of.
“I suppose it would be convincing ‘the boys’ that this could be done. As I said earlier I got a sense that the staff in general had sort of given up to an extent”.
Hollie also talked about the men’s groups that had formed organically from the small group training squads.
“Saturday morning classes have morphed into weekday workouts together, just a group of guys. That then morphed into a social group. They enjoy having a bit of a boy’s night out. Having a meal and going bowling”.
Interestingly weight loss goals are very obvious – Hollie suggested that they very open about that. A lot of the written goals are weight loss. It was an obvious common goal for a lot of people. Hollie and her team didn’t try to hide away from that.
“This is not rocket science – you just have to care. If you want to run a gym for the title and wander around in a uniform with a name badge – it’s probably not right for you”.
Often when things start going well, we can lose sight of what it was that initiated the success. Hollie talked about a mistake that she felt she made mid-way through the year.
“When I realised we were growing at a much faster rate than ‘older’ clubs I started focusing on the numbers – how many joining etc. And I lost sight of what we had been doing to grow”.
Takeout # 3
Don’t forget the things that work. Do you need to get back to basics?
I took a lot away from my time with Hollie. It proves to me that finding the right people to staff your club is still an imperative and can make a difference to commercial performance. Find people that have an ability and a willingness to socialise with other human beings. I learnt that all the little things that we may have done in the past and perhaps stopped doing remain valid and important. There has to be a mix of digital and real socialisation.
I have talked about socialisation a lot. People tend to join for selfish reasons – but stay for social reasons. There are a huge number of ways you can offer sociability. Club lay out, anything ‘group, talking to people, introducing members to each other.
In my opinion people still crave human interactions – other people to hang out with similar interests.
Hollie ended our conversation in quite a lovely way.
“I’m far from perfect – I’ve only been a manager for 12 months. I know I still have a lot to learn and have weaknesses – I really do hate the admin side of it. But I do like talking”.
Good on you Hollie – bloody well done.
This example is also a good reminder that we should not confuse ‘low cost’ with low service. When the ‘budget’ boxes started to appear, those of us operating full-service models looked at them and thought that without high touch service, people might not stay around. That may or may not be the case. I have seen over and over again people working in these boxes doing an extraordinarily good service job. It talks the point we often discuss in relation to staff selection. It only takes one superstar on staff to make a real difference – choose wisely.
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