More than 50 percent of small businesses, including health clubs and fitness studios, fail within four years of existence, PFP Editor Lindsay Vastola said in Club Industry's latest Master Class Series webinar. These failures, in Vastola's estimation, are primarily the result of incompetence and lack of experience.
Dues-paying club members often feel anonymous and overlooked, she said, because facility staff lack training in a specific skill set: emotional intelligence.
"These challenges, these frustrations, are not a problem of technology or the client management systems that we're using—these are people problems," Vastola said in "An Invisible Element of Success No One is Talking About: Emotional Intelligence." "These are emotional, deep-rooted problems between people. The more we can start paying attention to the [employees] actually delivering the technology, delivering the fitness programming classes, that's where we start to bridge that gap between those frustrations of [clients] and the outcomes that we want."
Vastola defines emotional intelligence as an awareness, understanding and management of our emotions and how they affect outcomes. In a health club context, this concept is applicable to strategies behind sales, marketing, fitness training, quality assurance, and retention of clients and staff.
Many people harbor an invisible skepticism toward the industry, Vastola said. They may have had a poor past experience with a diet or workout or trainer that tainted their general outlook. By employing emotional intelligence, these skeptics can be won over.
"All these people—these thousands and millions of dollars that we're leaving on the table—is because we're fighting this skepticism," Vastola said. "In your business, you need to work even harder to make sure that in your communities, in your marketing, you are eliciting and encouraging that when [someone] comes to our facility, whether it be a big box chain or a boutique community gym, that they will receive an experience that they have not had in the fitness industry—an experience that will change their mind."
Vastola's hourlong webinar is now available for on-demand viewing here and contains dozens of tips on how to better develop the emotional intelligence of your facility staff.
This webinar was the third installment of the Club Industry Master Class Series, moderated by Maria Turco. The next webinar, "The Fitness Business of the Future: How Consumer Experience Is Changing Everything," is at 2 p.m. Eastern on June 13. Register here.
The Master Class webinars are brought to you for free because of the generous sponsorship of the following companies: Honor Yoga, ABC Financial, Listen360, Myzone, Simple Again and Upshow.