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Risks and Rewards Can Show Up in Your Box

One last thought about customer suggestion boxes: Put one out at your own risk.

I'm not saying not to do them, as they often are the main link to members, guests and staff. What I am saying is that for every good comment or suggestion you receive, you also may get 10 that leave you scratching your head.

On the good side, you may find that something is popular. Suggestions such as “Can you add more hot house yoga classes so I can take it more than once a week?” or “Can you add an outdoor boot camp class?” would let you know what your members want.

It can also help in your purchasing decisions when enough members say, “Can you get more of those elliptical things so I don't have to wait so long to use one?”

You can even learn about a staff member who is really exceeding expectations when you get a number of comments along the lines of “Chris is really great at answering questions about my membership.”

On the other hand, many members see the box as a chance to vent or try to get things their way. Beware of these types of comments; they're tricky.

You'll get the swimmers who are never happy with the temperature. They will write comments such as “The air is too warm” or “The water is too cold.” If you adjust either, get ready for the onslaught of comments the other way. That battle never ceases.

There will always be those members who want your facility to really be their facility. For example, a long-time member at one club asked, “My work schedule has changed. Can you open at 4:30 a.m. instead of 5 a.m. so I can still work out beforehand?”

I even heard of one club where the member asked for a copy of the club's key so he could come in at 3 a.m. after his shift. I wonder if he would give the club owner the key to his house?

Then there are the caring parents who want only the best for their kids — when they want it, of course. “I know your child care hours end at 5 p.m., but I'm working late all next week. Please keep it open until 7 p.m., so I can still work out.”

Then there are those that just want to get in shape. “I am not losing weight,” one comment I read started. “I don't think you have the right equipment here!!!”

And there are also those members who realize they may need more help. “I want to train with Peter, but he is always booked when I can come in. Please tell him to cancel his other clients so I can meet with him.” While that may be a valid wish, can you imagine a comment like that in other settings? “I want to come in and meet with Dr. Fine on Wednesdays at 10 a.m. Can he please cancel his other patients at that time?”

So put out your suggestion box and ask your members for their opinions and their comments, but just remember that when you ask for people's input, you're bound to get it tenfold.

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