Last year, my husband and I moved to a new neighborhood in Seattle. It was a very busy time in our lives, and we had to move and get settled in quickly. Finding a new gym was on my "get settled" list, and in my eagerness to get this task completed and dive back into my normal routine, I made a bad decision.
Everyone who has signed up for a couple gym memberships knows the golden rule of finding the right gym: Choose the gym that is closest to your house. Period.
I looked at two gyms in my neighborhood. One was only four blocks away, but it seemed a little musty and the equipment was older. The second gym was beautiful- views of the water, the latest and greatest equipment, and exceptionally clean. I signed up at the second gym.
Before last year, I was very committed to my workout routines. You could find me at the gym at least four mornings a week burning it up. But not last year. And while simultaneously starting a new business and planning a wedding can definitely put a hamper on routines such as this one, I look back and realize my gym selection did too.
See the gym I selected was seven blocks downhill from my house. The dreaded trip home kept me from walking there. Driving was an option, but parking was not convenient. And after parking, it was an obstacle course getting to the front door. I had to cross a busy road with fast traffic, few red lights, and no crosswalk. Just the hassle of getting to the gym and back in the mornings left me feeling put out. And I doubt I was the only member with this issue. The gym is located near the water leaving most of the gym's patrons to deal with crossing that busy street.
At the one year mark, I canceled my contract. The other musty gym gave me a free seven day pass. And the first day I was there, I realized that this gym saved me fifteen minutes and made life easier. It is closer, they have ample parking next to the building, and there is no need to dodge cars to get inside.
The second day, I noticed that they play great workout music, and most of the time I like it better than listening to my iPod. I also found a room just for stretching, how handy! It is awkward finding a good place to stretch in most gyms.
Throughout the next couple weeks I noticed even more perks. There are clean, nicely folded white towels waiting for me when I arrive. I get an email every month with healthy recipes and exercise tips from a trainer. And they have cleaning supplies next to every machine, so you never have to walk more than a step out of your way at the end of your workout.
The owner of this gym put everything exactly where I needed it!
She clearly gets what it is like to workout at a gym often and made this gym incredibly user-friendly. There are no beautiful views nor state of the art equipment at this place, but who cares! The equipment is current enough, and to me, the stretching room and other perks completely outweigh the age of the building. I bet most people on cardio machines will tell you that music, tv screens, and magazines matter more than having a view. And parking and towel service make the days when you really have to push yourself to get there easier.
It is clear that there is a more loyal member base here. And for most of us it began with that seven day free trial. The trial gets you in the door to figure out that this gym has a lot more to offer than you may think at first glance.
And now to the point.
When it comes to providing your customers with the best experience, you have to jump into their skin and see the experience you are offering through their eyes.
This is not a simple task. It is easy to project what you think their needs are or to fulfill your own personal desires and vision instead. The reward of doing an outstanding job empathizing with your customers and putting things where they need them to be is incredibly valuable. In return, you receive loyal, happy customers saying great things about you and wanting more from you.
What more could you want?
Thank you to Seth Godin for teaching marketers and entrepreneurs the importance of being remarkable. While you think of ways to empathize more with your customers, read more about The Fun Theory too. They can go hand in hand.