In most business to business (B2B) relationships—and certainly in the world of software as a service (SaaS)—there is a service level agreement, commonly known as an SLA. It outlines a set of service standards that the contracting party is committing to in the business relationship. In SaaS, this includes 99.99 percent uptime, for example. In the business to consumer (B2C) world, they also exist, and most frequently show up as guarantees.
It is healthy to think of fitness more like B2B from an SLA standpoint. Once you are confident your SLA is being met, then applying a guarantee to your membership speaks volumes to the new member about your confidence in executing against the member experience.
I am not suggesting your SLA is built into your membership agreement—although that would really be a major statement. Let’s agree for now that your SLA will be silent to the member (an SSLA), but you will still measure and track it in order to understand whether your member experience is what you want it to be and is materially better than your competitors.
Let’s walk through the process. An SLA by its very nature must be measurable and trackable in an ongoing basis e.g. 99.99 percent uptime. The uptime metric is critical because when paying for SaaS, that is the starting point for value. If it can’t be used, then there is no value. In other words, it is important to the person using the product.
To build out our SSLA, we start by understanding what is most important to the member when they begin using the product. How about we start with uptime, which we might express as this: “We will be open and available to you 99.99 percent of the hours we post—excluding emergencies and planned downtime.”
Okay, we have our first metric. Not very compelling is it? That is because what is important to me is that you are open only when I want to come in. Now let’s say your hours are 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. If I work out at 5 a.m., then 100 percent on-time opening is important to me. My experience is really violated if I get up early and get to the gym and no one is there. Here is the point: the member experience is the product.
If the experience is the product, then we need to know what SLA metrics should be measured and tracked that map back to the member experience. What is important to the member? Well, it is important that people are friendly, the club is spotless, the equipment is clean and operable, the programs that I need are available to me, the instructors and trainers delivering those services are friendly, and you make it easy for me to do business with you.
So an SSLA might be stated as such: “We will maintain a trailing 90 day average of 9.0 on all our key member experience metrics.” But how do you know? You ask the members. You operationalize seven to 10 (more in some cases) key metrics using technology, and you keep that data running 365 days per year. Then you branch out and begin measuring other key member journey points such as membership purchase experience, onboarding experience, small group training experience, cancellation experience. In a short time you have a holistic, unified view of the end-to-end member experience.
I recommend starting with the ongoing member experience, then branching out from there. The starting point is what we refer to as the critical fitness member metrics, and they include likelihood to recommend, likelihood to continue, overall staff friendliness, front desk friendliness, club cleanliness, equipment condition and fitness results. These measure how good a club’s operations is relative to delivering a differentiated member experience.
The real power of measuring the right things (key loyalty drivers) and developing your SLA is when you involve your frontlines in helping to identify the key actions needed on a day-to-day basis in order to deliver your SLA every single day. Your teams become the owners of the product—the member experience. Then by continuously measuring the quality of your product, you can make constant adjustments to stay on your SLA promises and ensure a consistently high member experience.
Now that member experience is rocking, let’s offer a 100 percent, unconditional, 30-day, money-back guarantee. If for any reason you don’t like it here, we will refund 100 percent of your membership money and cancel your membership—and we will make it easy to do so.
Any idea how many clubs deliver 9.0 or greater on most of those metrics? I do. Damn few. That is differentiation, and that is worth real money.