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Fixing Your Y’s Guest Inquiry Process and Offering a Tour

What I Learned During My Secret Shopping Mission #72 - #75

Over the last several months I’ve secret shopped five YMCAs in different parts of the country. They’ve all had identical problems in the way they handle guest inquiries, engagement and data gathering.

Based on my 20 years of experience in the fitness industry and my work with Y’s across the country, I’d like to offer some advice for fixing these problems. Let’s explore every step of the guest inquiry process, from the time a potential member asks about a membership at the front desk, to your follow-up activities after the guest leaves.

  1. Initial inquiries

When a guest reaches out to you about a potential membership, this is your chance to make a great impression -- and thereby, a sale. Special attention should be given to inquiring guests because they are already interested in your organization. Remember, not handling this part of the process properly could drive a potential new member right over to your competitors.

Phone inquiries:

There should be a script at the front desk. When a team member answers the phone they can easily follow the short phone script posted next to the phone. 

Here’s an example:

Customer: I’m calling about membership prices and information.

Staff: Thank you for calling! Have you ever been here before?

Yes: Great, let me answer any questions you have.

No: Would you like to come in for a tour? We have a lot to offer here and would love to show you around.

  • If yes, schedule them for a tour time. This will emphasise the fact that it’s an appointment. This will significantly improve your show ratio for phone inquires.

Walk-in inquiries:

You should have a 90+ percent closing ratio with walk-in traffic. Think of the process someone goes through before walking in:

  • They hear about many fitness facilities in the area
  • They make the decision to check out the Y
  • They think about it (sometimes for years)
  • They’re motivated to do something about their health
  • They find time to stop in (everyone is busy)

They finally come in. This is your opportunity to shine.

In my experience, the tour portion is rare at YMCAs I’ve been in (which is over 120). The front desk hands you a price sheet and  basically says, “See ya later” in most Y’s. If you get a tour, they’re all very basic. They are now calling it a “cause-driven tour” but it's the same tour with a different name.

Here are a few factors at play when an employee gives you a tour:

  • How the employee is feeling that day (happy or going through the motions)
  • How motivated they are to give a tour (they may not be)
  • What information they remember to share during the tour (if you do a tour correctly there is a lot of key information to cover)
  • Are they following the cause-driven tour system or just falling back into their old, stale tour
  1. Gathering guest data

One of the most important things you can do up front is get as much information on your inquiring guest as you can. At the very least, you’ll want to get their name, phone number and email address so you can follow up on the lead and stay in touch if they don’t make a decision right away.

  1. Offering a tour

When a guest walks in and inquires about a membership there needs to be a system in place or everyone will do their own thing -- and that never works! The process doesn’t have to be complex, but it does need to be exact. There should be a proper guest experience that embodies what your Y is trying to portray in the community.

Here is a quick example:

Customer: Hi, my name is Brian and I may be interested in a membership.

Staff: Hi, my name is Beth, it’s nice to meet you (get up and shake their hand with a smile). I’m sure you have lots of questions. I would like to give you a short, 20-minute tour and explain who we are and what we have to offer. 

Yes: Please fill out this short tour card and I will get someone to help you.

No: OK, no problem. Before answering your questions would you mind filling out a short guest inquiry form?

Note: This will allow you to market to them in the future if they decide not to join.

I hope these tips are of value and that your team will apply the techniques to make an immediate impact on your membership process. In my next blog I will be talking about how to set up a tour (mapping process). 

Stay tuned for more secret shopping / training missions from “The Secret Shopper!”


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Wednesday, 21 February 2018