C ustomer service problems in fitness facilities can challenge even the most conscientious owners and managers. No mat- carry a Fitness Group photo identification membership card and "scan in" when they enter the facility. We implemented the new system to ensure that individuals using our services/facilities were members in good standing. The Problem: One of our members refused to have her photo taken, because she felt it was an infringement on her privacy. The Solution: Our solution for her (and future members who feel the same way) was to issue a membership card without the photo, and require that she present other photo identification, such as a driver's license. This method is indicated on her membership profile. cern about aspartame, unfortunately all we could do was communicate that the purchase of a "diet" type of beverage that may contain aspartame is an individual's choice. Prior to installing the machine, we polled more than 200 members, who indicated overwhelmingly that they wanted a diet beverage. Once she was reminded that we did check with our members, she understood our decision. The Situation: Last spring we had a terrible windstorm late one night that cut electric power in our area for hours. For the past 20 years, our pledge to our members has been to be open 365 day per year--no matter what. The Problem: How do we operate a health club or run an exercise-to-music class with no music? The Solution: Candle power! I came in at 5:00 AM with every candle I had and lit them so people would know we were open for business. Obviously our electronic equipment, such as treadmills, was not working, but we were open and the 6:30 AM class could proceed as scheduled. The cardiovascular component of the class became a Power Walk around the neighborhood, with the stretch component done to candlelight instead of music. The class was very well received and greatly appreciated by our members. ter how small the complaint or how large the dilemma, finding quick and effective solutions is key to keeping customers satisfied and the business of fitness moving forward. But, how do you find the solutions? IDEA Fitness Manager invited directors at three fitness facilities to share their experiences. What have your experiences been? Mail or e-mail your toughest challenge and solution to IDEA Fitness Manager. Solutions for Customer Service 4 Problems, 4 Solutions "What was the most difficult customer service problem you faced last year, and how did you resolve it?" That was the question we posed to Julie McNeney, 1999 IDEA Program Director of the Year and Maureen Hagan, 1998 IDEA Program Director of the Year. At the same time, we are developing a "value" bonus point system that will be tied directly to the membership card, so she will not miss out on participating. The Situation: This past summer we did a huge renovation of our club. Because the facility is small, there is not enough space for a juice/coffee bar. So we installed a beverage vending machine. The machine featured the traditional red Coca-Cola logo and was placed outside of the building near the front entrance. The Problem: One of our members was appalled that we had a "Coke" vending machine. She felt that a health club should not be advocating the purchase of cola or diet cola, which contains aspartame. The Solution: We changed the front of the machine to a "Fruitopia" cover, which she found acceptable. For the con- Listen to Each Member Here is Julie McNeney's report from The Fitness Group in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Situation: We upgraded our membership database system and changed member check-in to a photo identification system. All members Increase Services, Control Costs Maureen Hagan, national director of fitness at Good Life Fitness Clubs based in London, Ontario, checked with other managers and prepared this report with input from Jane Riddell, IDEA FITNESS MANAGER / MARCH 2000 vice president, and Michelle Colwell, national director of member services. The Problem: How can we increase member retention but control payroll costs at the same time? The Solution: Offer both new and existing members group orientations and specialized group programs. Members are encouraged, recruited and preregistered for one or more of the group orientations and can repeat any session as often as they wish. The outcome has been very positive! Good Life has experienced a 5 percent increase (on average) in retention this past year in all our clubs. We presently have 45 clubs and numerous corporate fitness programs. Following are examples of the orientations available to new members and existing members who wish to refresh their skills: Fit Fix #1: Introductory Strength Training. Basic strength training focusing on six major muscle groups. Fit Fix #2: Progression of Strength Training. Adds two to six strength training exercises to complement the basic training. Cardio. Basic information about cardiovascular training principles and how to effectively use the cardiovascular equipment to help achieve results. Orientation to Group Fitness, Aqua, Cycling. Designed for first-time participants, the class introduces basic skills and helps members feel comfortable in a group/class setting. Get Started. Four- to six-week programs are available throughout the year. Fat Loss Seminar. A half-hour session explaining how members can get stronger and lose 13 to 19 pounds of body fat in a six-week time period. Free Weight Orientation. A one-hour session for beginners to learn basic technique and strength training exercises. Techniques. A personal trainer observes a member working out and gives workout tips for improving results. Women on Weights. A 45-minute exercise-to-music weight training class offered twice per week for six weeks. Following the workout, the instructor provides a 15-minute discussion on various women's health issues.