Knowing Your Members’ Minds. Part 3

Hitzelberger and her employees gathered the feedback through a suggestion box placed near the facility’s entrance, andsimply asking those who turned down memberships why they did so. “We also make sure our employees are ‘allears’ when they’re on the floor talking to our members,” Hitzelberger says. “It’s amazing what you can learn just by listening to members’ conversations and what they say around the club.”

Turn to interns

Colleges and universities can help when it comes to market research. Schools often have internships or individual study courses where either undergraduates or MBA students can work with a company to help with market research, among other duties.

Hutton says hesees the internship program at the University of Denver as “vitally important” not only for students, but also for businesses.”I think businesses start out thinking of students as cheap labor, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but by the end of the internship, the business feels it got a lot more than just data from the student,” Huttonsays. “Businesses love the program, and we’ve received rave reviews from businesses we’ve worked with.”

Focus on the group

A focus group can be a useful tool for smaller businesses, according to Dee Pierce, vice president of TwentyTen Research, a market research firm in Denver, Colo. “Focus groups are more of a qualitative form of research that can produce very good information,” she says.

Getting participants should be relatively easy at a health facility, because members are constantly coming in. Just be sure to keep their time commitment minimal. You might also want to give participants abonus for sharing their time–maybe afree week of membership, or a gift certificate to your pro shop.

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