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interview


Liebert says customer satisfaction is about getting the basics right – and also ensuring maintenance is a key priority


suggest that members don’t leave us to go to a competitor – they leave because sometimes life gets in the way and they quit fitness altogether.” Liebert adds: “Consumer satisfaction is also about getting the basics right. Our clubs can take a beating – the larger format clubs, which have up to 23,000 members, can see up to 95,000 workouts a month – and it’s important to deal quickly with any maintenance issues. Each of our clubs has a Facebook page, which allows members to give immediate feedback on any concerns they may have, rather than waiting for the JD Power survey.


“Our Facebook pages also help us


ensure we’re communicating with members in their preferred way.”


Recruiting for success Running such an extensive chain of large clubs presents huge challenges, not least in terms of consistent standards. So what’s the secret of 24 Hour Fitness’ success? Liebert’s answer is the same as many operators give, but in his case there seems to be real weight behind it: “It’s our people. It’s all about core values, because that’s what drives this company. “That starts with accountability. We also talk about being connected to members and to each other – we have a very good ecosystem that we protect. We challenge ourselves and set high expectations, ensuring that every individual knows how important they are to our success. We have a lot of integrity. We try to have a lot of energy in everything we do. We’re


versatile – I believe in change and ensure my team members see that as a positive thing, because companies have to get better every day. And we try to have fun – we’re in fitness, and if we can’t have fun, who can? “We invest a lot of time and effort


into recruiting the right people. I always tell my sons that, when they shake someone’s hand, they should give a firm handshake and make eye contact. You say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and, if someone invites you to their house, you write a thank you note. We try to hire people who know those kinds of things – who are conscientious, thoughtful and caring. “I have to set the tone and I need to be visible – there’s a great book called Workplace 2020 which talks about hiring millennials, and the two things that matter most to them is whether they believe in the product and the company they’re going to work for, and whether they believe in the leader. “However, the club manager is the


centre of the universe for our chain, not the CEO or the fitness team. If we don’t have the right people in the club, it doesn’t really matter what comes out of my mouth. The club manager is responsible for ensuring members have a great experience, and that all the team members are supporting that goal. “If you have a club of 22,000 members doing 90,000 workouts a month and a team of 30+ personal trainers, that’s a big, complex business and you need to recruit the right people. Once we do, we genuinely empower them, and as a result


36 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


we’re starting to attract military veterans and leaders from other industries.”


Continuing the success So what are the plans for 24 Hour Fitness going forward? “We’ll be focusing on our larger format, full-service 24 Hour Fitness Sport and Super-Sport clubs, phasing out our other sub-brands such as Express and Fit-Lite,” says Liebert.


“In terms of international expansion,


there are some great markets out there that might make sense for us one day – the BRIC markets, for example. However, we’re only in 17 states in the US at the moment, so there’s still a lot of opportunity here. For now, I’ll focus on growing the brand domestically.” More than anything, however, you sense that Liebert’s focus is on driving satisfaction among his members and team members, knowing that growth will follow on from these strong foundations. He concludes: “As a result of the various measures we’ve implemented over the last four years, we’re seeing year-on-year improvement across every dimension of the business: member satisfaction, team member turnover, team member satisfaction, new member units, member retention. Change is always hard, but I feel we’ll be rewarded in the long term.”


healthclub@leisuremedia.com kate cracknell


september 2012 © cybertrek 2012


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