What makes your facility unique?
“Customers are looking for more than just products and services; they are looking for an experience that is supported by products and services.” [adapted from g. yankelovich]
The exerciser can get fitness anywhere, they can go for a walk in the park, they can buy a DVD, and participate in an exercise workout in the comfort of their own home; the reason they visit a facility, and continue to use that facility, is that they enjoy a unique exercise experience that they cannot get anywhere else. If the experience is not what they value, they will leave. The unique facility experience might not be found in the content (the exerciser can get that anywhere); you have to be on the cutting edge of science, to be unique with content - the experience is found in the context.
We all seek stability; however, stability cannot be found in sameness [adapted from e. langer]. The more the fitness industry grows, and continues to grow, the more competitive it will become; continuing to provide the exerciser with content only is going to make survival very difficult. Content can be copied; the context is unique. The context is the why, and how a facility operates; facilities need to find out their why, and how, and develop a message that speaks to their communities. A facility does not need to get everyone to like them to be successful, it just needs to attract and retain the people who like what they like to be successful [adapted from s. sinek].
If a facility is to create and maintain a unique experience, then staff, and their development, is fundamental. Staff contribute a significant amount to the experience, ensuring that the facility’s message is visible to the customer - staff help give the facility context.
Getting staff to think differently is very different to getting staff to act differently. Courses, workshops and seminars are fundamental in regards to an individual’s professional learning, but unless a culture of development is created within a business, building staff’s understanding of the message and enhancing their confidence in delivering the message, the unique experience is unlikely to happen. Outstanding staff are NOT born, they are made, and they are made through continual staff development. Practice, NOT talent, is the key to success [adapted from BOUNCE, m. syed].
Create a culture of improvement that continually moves the facility in the direction of the message. Provide comfortable internal learning environments that take what has been learned, and develop great practice.
Through a structured staff development process, a facility can: expand on their message, give staff the belief they can be successful, which builds staff confidence; advance what has been learned, develop the skills and behaviours of staff; and in-turn create a unique experience that no other competitor can offer.
Staff learning is nothing without staff development. Staff development can also highlight gaps in knowledge, and competencies, which means that learning in the future can be targeted, more productive, and cost-effective.