You guys are insane!

According to the Urban Dictionary: Blind loyalty involves being loyal to a person or cause despite the damage the person or cause does to himself or herself or others. Versus: Loyaltyfeeling of strong support for someone or something, Merriam-Webster. Are your customers and employees loyal – or blindly loyal? Before you answer, think about this:


Blind Loyalty, what does this mean exactly? Think of your pet! Now there is an example of blind loyalty. You work 12 hours a day, the pet is left alone, and yet they are so happy to see you when you get home. Maybe you are a great pet owner or an abusive one. Your pet is still loyal and still loves you no matter what.  And parenting! No matter what kind of parent a person is, young kids are loyal and want to impress (at least until the teen years!). I consider myself a good parent but I’m sure some day one of my kids will tell their therapist about something I did as a parent that has caused them grief as an adult.

As adults, we think we like something, and are loyal to it, whether it is a business, a person, or a product. Until that business, person, or product does something outrageous to cause mistrust. BUT, why we do wait until that moment?! As business owners/managers, why do we wait until our customers are angry or sales are declining? As consumers, why do we wait until the business or product disappoints? As employees, why do we wait until we can find something better?

If you have customers and employees, chances are YOU are blindly ignorant. Ignorant to the fact that perhaps your employees only work for you because there isn’t anything else available or your customers are customers because they haven’t discovered something better. Don’t be that guy/gal! Loyalty starts from the top.  If you run your business on loyalty and truly care about your employees as human beings and care about the product or service you are offering, then LOYALTY is what you will have, not Blind Loyalty. Don’t assume your employees and customers love you or what you do, KNOW.  Ask, find out, LISTEN and truly learn from your people and customers. (Notice I said learn. This is different then TELL.)

If you are the boss or the manager, find out from your people what makes them tick. Why do they love working for you and your company? Let them be candid. If you have truly loyal staff, you will have truly loyal customers. Be true and be loyal to your people and profits will result.

My goal is to never hear something like this about my company, my people, or my product:

“You guys are insane. Working like dogs and retaining blind loyalty to some jerk of a boss who doesn’t give a toss about you.” Urban Dictionary 

May it never be so.


Start with a smile

Today I did an informal experiment. As I was riding my bike to work, I decided to count how many people either returned my smile or said good morning/hello or some other acknowledgement (even a head nod!). No, it wasn’t too early and it was a gorgeous day! Apple Capital Loop Trail– I live in an amazingly beautiful area with a bike path that connects two towns on either side of the Columbia River. Along the way, it is quite normal to see eagle, osprey, fish jumping, salmon fisherman fishing, and even some other unsightly creatures (snakes, skunk).

In other words, the reasons to be happy, to be smiling, to be friendly were numerous! We are alive, we are able bodied enough to be outside enjoying the beauty and breathing clean, fresh air!

Back to my experiment: my trip to work is only about 45 minutes of brisk biking but I passed no less than 47 people. I am not counting the ones who were plugged in or chatting away with others and, therefore, would not hear my cheery voice. 47 people (plus the others with headphones or friends)! Isn’t that amazing? So many people up and exercising and enjoying the outdoors. Guess how many people smiled back at me? Or acknowledged me in any way? 13. Yes, only 13 – roughly 26% I was overly cheery and loud with my greetings and still – only 13. That makes me wonder: what is going on in their minds that they are choosing to not be present? (Perhaps they thought I was a bit loony or “one of those annoyingly happy morning people?)

Which leads me to this article – how often do we go throughout our day not being present?be present What are we missing by letting our minds run ahead? How many people do we not connect with by not paying attention to our surroundings and missing the best parts of our day? It’s so easy to get absorbed in what we have to get done, our stresses, or our life but by not being present, we might miss that open door to the next greatest opportunity. Even the missed opportunity to really “see” and acknowledge some really great people!

Do you know WHO those 13 people were? They were the ‘seniors’ (older than me!) who I suspect were out there because: 1) they had the time 2) they enjoyed the beauty of the outdoors or even 3) perhaps they wanted to make someone’s day better by offering a hello or a smile. I can see their smiles, the look of peace and contentment. For me, they reminded me just how much a smile means. They made my day brighter.

Even if you don’t have the opportunity to ride a bike to work or don’t live in a place that is beautiful, there is still joy in being alive and being in the moment. Take a look around – I’m sure you can find at least one thing to smile about?

A smile is easy. A smile is cheap. A smile can make someone’s day. The best gift you can give yourself is to make someone’s day brighter by offering a free smile. Enjoy!

How do you practice being present? What makes it hard for you to be present? Please share with us.

This blog was originally published Oct. 2, 2015 and was so good the first time that you just have to see it again, courtesy of Jenny Hymer. Enjoy!

Weighting out the winter


Winter is here and your members and future members are evaluating their fitness right now! They are considering their gym memberships and resolving in their minds to really get serious this next year. set goal, make plan, work, stick to it, reach goal - a success cThis is great for business but the challenge is always how to retain more of these people before they get discouraged and move on or just stop coming in.

Here is something to think about.

Do you know what fitness goals your member’s have? How would you know if they met their goals? If you are a health club operator You should absolutely know this information. Knowing what your members are trying to accomplish is key to connecting them with the right services and keeping them as members long term. If you could keep each member from cancelling even for an additional 2-3 months, how much additional revenue is that?

Here are a couple of ways to learn about your members fitness goals.

  1. Start with asking people when they first become a member. Try this, “Tell me what you are hoping to accomplish with this membership?” Hold the assumptions and give them a few minutes to answer. It is amazing what a few thoughtful well designed questions can produce. It should be no surprise that many people will be eager to tell you about their fitness goals. If they are sitting in a sales office at your health club, they will assume that you are an expert and will be able to advise them how to meet their goals. Capture what they have shared with you so that your trainers and management can access this information. Your engagement with this member should be driven by a desire to see them succeed.
  2. Another way to understand a member’s fitness goals is via a survey. The right member experience management system can provide you with an opportunity to engage personally with your member about their fitness goals and to learn how you can help. Soliciting regular feedback from members is the only way to know if you are actually providing them with what you promised when they first joined you club.

Here are just some of the things your members could be trying to accomplish.

  • Lose weight
  • Gain weight
  • Train for a race
  • Recover from surgery
  • Make new friends
  • Start dating
  • Need a break from their kids
  • and many more reasons

Take the time to understand what your members are trying to accomplish. A few respectful and thoughtful questions will go a long way towards keeping that member engaged and active at your club.


Are you doing anything to understand and track fitness results at your club? Let us know!


Free Webinar: The Four Habits of Exceptional Clubs

CI_Clubworks_728x90Register Here

Exceptional clubs don’t happen by accident, and they appear in every strata of the marketplace – low-price, mid-price and high-price. Their common denominator is the conscious choice to make customer experience their strategy and the adoption of the habits that make it successful.

Learn what “exceptional” really means and how you can put your club(s) on the “exceptional” path. If you want to learn how many of the world’s best companies, including fitness organizations, drive customer experience strategy, this webinar is for you – regardless of the size of your organization.

Blair McHaney, president, ClubWorks Inc.

Blair McHaney is the former vice president of strategic initiatives for Medallia, an operational customer experience management (OCEM) technology company. He is a subject matter expert on operationalizing voice of customer systems, a Medallia Institute educator, a club owner for more than 30 years and president of ClubWorks, which is Medallia’s partner for operational customer experience management in the fitness industry.

Register Here


I had a fantasy while flying to Orlando…

Alaska Airlines flight 16, seat 8F.  Heading to Orlando.  Medallia’s annual event is always incredibly stimulating and fun.   But right now I am waiting for someone to pick up the remains of my small “Tapas” snack to allow me a little more room to type.  If only my forearms were 3 inches shorter I could type without deforming my hands.   It seems that every flight in the last few years has been 100% booked.  This must be very good as far as I can tell for the airlines.


But let’s forget about what is good for the airlines for a minute and just think about the experience of flying and how one might design a far better flying experience.  There are 178 seats on this flight, 12 of them in first class.  I wonder what the math looks like if instead of every coach row having 6 seats, every row had 4.  And instead of 27 coach rows they were reduced to 24.  Removing some 66 seats or 37% of the capacity.  How much more would the airline need to charge per ticket in order to have higher margin than they have now?  How much more would the customer be willing to pay?  How many of these customers are out there?   Would the price of a seat need to be the same as it currently is for a first class ticket?   It doesn’t seem so.  First class tickets (of course I am not talking about free upgrades) are priced 2-4 times a coach ticket.  I have no idea what the calculus is for determining all of the different fares but they seem quite varied.

With the removal of 37% of the seats could the airline charge 50-60% more for the ticket?  It sure seems like there would be a market for this.  At least the math works if the customers are there.  GOOD LORD I would buy that deal all damn day even if it didn’t come with free food and beverage!  It seems it would AT LEAST be worth an experiment.  Every airline seems to be chasing the exact same space – make more money by crowding more people in.   This assumes that what people value is simply cheaper fares and moderate service. I wonder what would happen if an airline decided to attract people who value SPACE and excellent service.

Here is what the boarding experience might sound like:

“Hello folks, this is a completely full flight today but no worries, you are flying our new ‘Respect Class’ and there is no need to be anxious about overhead space as you are guaranteed to have your very own space over your designated seat!”   

“You will also enjoy 7 inch wider seats, 7 degrees more recline and 4 inches more leg room than our standard flight.  The center isle is 24 inches instead of 18 inches so you can avoid those awkward moments to and from the lavatory when you must decide which side of your body you will thrust into the face of the poor bastard in the isle seat in order that another passenger may pass.”   

“Speaking of lavatories! Ours are occupied on average 37% less and are 6 inches wider than standard in order to prevent those painful shoulder dislocations required in most airplane lavatories.” 

“Your Internet connection will be 37% better and we predict you are 37% more likely to have an outstanding experience. If you do, please don’t be shy about posting comments out there!”

“Also, since there are far fewer of you, boarding and deplaning takes about half the time as our standard flights.”    

Okay, that’s my fantasy and if you have flown much lately you know why this is my fantasy!  There are certainly exceptions to the “always bad to mediocre experience” and they seem to occur when I fly Virgin America, or I buy (or get upgraded) to first class.  It is amazing how much better the flying experience can actually be.

flying first class

Now think about your health club.   People experience the same anxieties in overly crowded clubs as one does on overly crowded flights.  Things like attending a class, getting into Team Training, having an open treadmill, finding a vacant locker, taking a shower, having kids get the attention needed in the Kids Club, all of these things have increased value when a club is not over-crowded.  My hunch is that with the proliferation of high-volume/low-price clubs, there may be an opportunity for growth in the higher-price and more-space model.  How might you capitalize on having all your members fly “Respect Class” instead of what coach class is becoming?   Look, I sure don’t have the answer here.  I am just positing the question.  But I do know that I’d pay for this flying experience every time.


Animate your health club with a new strategy.

From 36 percent to 89 percent. According to Gartner Research, 36 percent of enterprise CEOs in 2011 said customer experience is the dimension on which they are now competing. That number jumped to 89 percent in 2016.

These CEOs of major companies are saying that customer experience is the battlefield, and having a strategy to win on that battlefield is imperative. I suspect that in the next three years, the percentage of CEOs who say that customer experience is their differentiator will rise to 95 percent. But why, and why now? What is happening that providing a customer experience has become so imperative for so many companies? Haven’t they always focused on customer service? Yes, they have. So when they talk about a customer experience strategy as a new competitive dimension, they are talking about embedding the customer perspective into every cell of the company and creating a unified (i.e. whole company) approach to understanding the customer.


The very nature of strategy is that it animates an organization. When you have a unifying vision and strategy and electrify it with the right customer information, your decisions will be different. That sounds simple, but it is where differentiation begins. Your decisions will be different than they would have been had you not adopted the strategy. In other words, if you have not created a unifying customer experience vision and strategy, and you have not adopted the discipline to track and manage its progress, you are getting left behind. You become the guy or gal who is in a highly competitive race but is unaware whether you are running first, last or somewhere in between.

When you consider why there is such a massive push on customer experience, you might come to the conclusion that it is because of the proliferation of social media in all its forms — Yelp, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram. Pinterest, Google+, etc. — and that these companies want to make sure they look good. Although improving social commentary is a nice outcome, it isn’t the main driver. The drivers are market share, revenue growth, same-store sales, share of wallet, margin and all of the usual suspects. In fact, I would sum up many of these companies’ approaches to social media as “Be a great company on the inside, and it will show on the outside.” Looking good on social media isn’t a driver; it is an outcome.

What business owners are recognizing is the parity in the normal business functions among their competitive set. You better be good at marketing, finance, human resources, etc. You probably wouldn’t be around if you were not good in those areas.

Moreover, all of these normal business functions are operational. This means that they have numbers and metrics that guide the day-to-day and give goals for the future. Someone at the top of the food chain takes ownership of these functions and ensures their success. This is simply the ante to being a good company.

Managing the customer experience is the ante to being a great company, and someone has to decide to make customer experience a strategic objective. That person is the CEO, president or owner in the case of many smaller companies.

Once that decision is made, aggressive action should be taken to break existing inertia. Set big goals — net promoter score (NPS) is a good one — measure and monitor all of the NPS key driver metrics on a day-to-day basis, respond to every single customer that provides feedback, get multiple people involved, establish a company-wide vision with hard edges on understanding when and how you will reach it.

The worst mistake I see is when company leaders take a tactical approach to customer experience. This usually takes the form of testing whether one’s teams are willing to adopt and execute the new operational disciplines that it takes to make a strategy work. If their teams lack the interest in adopting the day-to-day disciplines, then these leaders capitulate. Strategy is not a trial balloon. Strategy is not decided at the front line. It is executed at the front line.

If you are a CEO, president or owner, if you own one club or 100 clubs,you are the strategist, and it is you who will determine whether your strategy gets adopted or fizzles.

There is a race going on. We are all in it, and there is a tremendous opportunity to differentiate your company. We estimate that only 2 to 3 percent of fitness companies are ramped up in their customer experience management discipline.


3 Best Practices of CX Leaders

These are lessons that I learned during my 30+ years managing health clubs. Simple to identify but harder to implement. Three practices used by top Customer Experience Management practitioners that can help you begin to manage the experience at your business vs. just putting out fires as fast as they start. Here they are!

  1.     THEY LISTEN!Listen-1

The true leaders of a positive customer experience actually listen to their customers AND their employees.  They have systems in place that allow them to listen to their customer & employee feedback (un-solicited!) and methods to analyze and use the data or information provided by those customers and employees.  When the customer or the employee points out a faulty policy or ‘friction-full’ procedure, they listen and work together to find a better way.

  1.      NO EGO!

It takes a unique leader to be able to openly listen to criticism and to make positive change as a result. Most leaders are set in their systems and operations and are unwilling to make changes even when their customers and employees are clearly telling them this isn’t working. A true leader knows they are only as strong as their weakest employee and operation. For example: at the next convention or out of town meeting, listen for this: “My people just can’t survive without me. I need to get back! Things are falling apart.”  This company is NOT a leader in the customer experience world.  True customer experience leaders don’t wait for the bottom line to drop before making change.

  1.      Have a Customer Experience Mission!

EVERY employee must know his or her role and expectations in the customer experience strategy. The customer experience mission statement is clearly and effectively communicated to every single employee, every single day. Customer experience is the first thing and the last thing talked about when hiring a new employee. The new hire KNOWS and UNDERSTANDS the company’s commitment and passion for customer experience from day one. And they also are clear on what role they play in that experience. The true leaders of customer experience continually hire and train around their customer experience strategy.