Servicing Your Market
Every customer encounter puts you and your staff in the spotlight. Rise to the occasion.
Getting a solid start at servicing your market begins with every single interaction you and your staff have with prospective and existing customers. At Twist Conditioning, our customer service mantra is “Underpromise; overdeliver.” We aspire to provide great quality, value and benefits. Although we do promise a lot, we avoid pledging more than we can realistically expect to deliver. To exceed expectations, you have to consistently provide better quality, through a better experience and in a more timely manner, than is anticipated. Set yourself up to succeed.
If you are able to work within that framework, your staff will be perceived as trustworthy, knowledgeable, ethical and positive, and the customer interaction process will be deemed efficient and accurate. This goodwill will help you build relationships that extend beyond the facility walls, and your reputation will work for you as a marketing tool.
To properly service your customer, first identify who that is, then focus on what you can offer him that makes you or your company’s services different. For example, one of Twist Conditioning’s points of difference is we don’t hire any salespeople. Zero. We hire only coaches and athletes. Even though we sell products along with our training services, education and franchises, all our employees are coaches and athletes. They run our business operations, marketing, finance, coaching, education, product distribution and franchise management. This may seem odd, especially to a sales-focused membership-driven health club industry, but our point of difference is that all staff are well-versed in leading-edge training methods and knowledgeable about the practical application of training concepts. In any interaction, our customers can expect to have a positive, efficient experience with staff who can competently, consistently and accurately answer their questions.
While Twist Conditioning offers athletic and functional training, products, education and franchised sport conditioning centers, we are actually a service business and as such most focused on the customer experience. As a team, we aspire to provide an excellent experience in workshops, at trade shows and during workouts; in fact, we aspire to excellence during every single exchange with clients and customers—by phone or e-mail, or while being coached, procuring product, inquiring about franchises or listening to presentations. Big or small, every exchange contributes to making a good start, and everyone who has the ability to contribute to our reputation is defined as a client or a customer.
In offering a new service or business, it’s financially and operationally better to service existing customers. An often-quoted business axiom states that it usually costs six times more to find a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. A 5% increase in retention can equate to a 25% increase in profitability. An “every-time” positive experience with existing customers is crucial to turning traction into momentum and growth. It’s worthwhile to keep in mind that your “every-time” policy might be a “first- and only-time” interaction with a potential or new customer—sometimes, you really do get only one chance to get it right. You might never hear anything directly from an unhappy customer, but that unhappy person will tell her negative story to as many as nine other people, as opposed to only three word-of-mouth communications for a positive experience. And with existing customers and clients, it can take up to 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative. My customers are welcomed and treated as part of my business, and our rule is to do whatever it takes to service them with positive experiences. Determine where you can bring extra value through positive people and processes; how you can exceed expectations; and what you can do to underpromise and overdeliver.
Through your consistent and sincere service efforts, you will build a loyal base of customers; when it’s time to consider expanding, your growth will come as a result of that loyalty. Your reputation comes through service and growth from your reputation. That is a successful position from which to start.
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Here is an example of servicing your market in a time-saving and productive manner.
One of my favorite interview questions for potential employees is this:
“You are to spearhead and manage a basketball camp. What do you do? Define the critical steps from conception to fulfillment.”
If you are like most coaches and trainers, your answer to this question will focus on the actual exercises and programs, and possibly the facility and advertising. But there are other steps that must come before this type of answer.
Step One: Market Analysis
In considering a new service or business offering, it is important to first research the market to find out about other similar existing or defunct camps. A market analysis will help you determine if you should even put the time and resources into launching this camp and, if so, consider the points of difference that will help you stand apart from the others. As part of your research, look into existing camps’ locations, participants’ ages, level of athletes, schedule, coaching curriculum and price.
Step Two: Business Plan
Once you have decided to move forward and you have outlined the details—exercise curriculum (including skills and tactics) and ancillary services (such as sport nutrition presentations), then you are ready to prepare a business plan. This plan is used to map out chronological camp preparation and operation schedules. It is a fluid process and before the final draft is approved, you must think through all parts of it through a SWOT analysis.
Step Three: SWOT—Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats
Take your business plan and determine the internal and external strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your proposed basketball camp. These lists will help you refine your business plan as well as highlight any significant impediments. The SWOT analysis may even lead you to consider purchasing an existing business as opposed to starting everything from scratch. Sometimes, buying into an existing successful business (or part of one—a “subbusiness”) with brand strength can help your new venture be successful, reputable and profitable, which can free you to focus on gaining and keeping customers. Take your time during the SWOT exercise and revisit each SWOT category to ensure each list is exhaustive. It will influence not only your final business plan, but indeed the project viability itself, as well as the business model (Independent? Partnered? Franchised?) that best suits you, your market and your business goals.
After completing your SWOT analysis, return to step two, finish up your business plan and move forward.
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