Knowing Your Members’ Minds. Part 2

However, for those who can’t find usable data, good, inexpensive options for market research do exist. One of the easiest ways to capture member thoughts is via surveys, either on yourwebsite or in yourfacility. It isn’t, however, the most accurate research option, because experts say certain people are more likely to respond to surveys.Usually,those who do are either very pleased or displeased with the business, but most people likely lie in between.

Nonetheless,Hutton says surveys can work. “If I had to choose the best and cheapest way to gather basic information on customers, I’d choose survey response cards with three or four questions on them, and then have the customer drop them anonymously in the box on their way out,” says Hutton.

If a facility wants a survey that generates more than a typical response card, splitting the cost to produce a professional survey among other businesses could do the trick.Of course, the other businesses would need to be in a related industry, but sharing results may help keep costs down.

As for usingthe phone or direct mail, Hutton says most small businesses would be better off avoiding both. “These can be time consuming and costly,” he says.

Normal part of business

Lori Hitzelberger, general manager of Wellbridge, has made gathering feedback a normal part of doing business.”Over the last year, we’ve been collecting data from our members and prospects about what they want, and that has really helped us make the club better,” Hitzelberger says. “Now we have a long list of people who said they’ll join as soon as we implement the changes we’ve found that we need to implement.”For Hitzelberger and her facility, this means a sauna and day care service. “What we learned was that members really wanted a place for their kids to play while they worked out, and that they wanted a sauna,” she says. “Just by adding these two things, we’re going to increase our membership a lot.”

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