Why it Matters and What it is Worth in Fitness Facility Planning
In today’s on-demand world, it seems so easy to ask Google to find whatever you need, and more often than not Amazon Prime will put it on your doorstep in two days’ time. When you’re planning big projects, the complexity rises exponentially but the expectations are very much the same. When you’re managing a building or constructing a school, or even equipping a fire station, the responsibility escalates to get every detail right for the dozens, hundreds or thousands of people who are counting on it. It’s never too late to find out the importance of a full-service fitness provider.
From building a multi-family housing complex, to renovating a school, or expanding the company offices to create a better environment for employees, those who are developing facilities for different communities have broad responsibilities and they must choreograph the execution of those responsibilities with finesse. When it comes to planning space, architects are called in to offer their expertise, electricians and plumbers join the team when their specialized skills are called for, and interior designers have roles to fulfill when it comes to how a space looks and feels. If there’s a restaurant to take into account, a chef might even be in the mix to pick out ovens and design the flow of the kitchen.
But how do you account for a fitness space? Can’t you just plan it and equip it like you do your personal home gym? It’s not that simple.
Just as with like the other specialized spaces that serve the particular community you’re addressing, fitness centers and movement areas need to be thought out through with experts to make sure that the equipment fits the needs of the community, that the space fits the equipment, and that everything works and flows together so that the asset is well used and highly valued.
Finding the Right Connections
Since Google and Amazon aren’t (yet) offering consulting services for construction design projects, how do facilities decision makers find the right resources to help them? Referrals from previous projects or recommendations from others are the primary source. “For most of my clients, it’s all about the relationship that we’ve developed over time and about the experience they’re looking for when you work together,” said Lori Beall, Fitness Design Consultant with Advanced Exercise. “I’m here as an expert resource that can help them make the decisions that are best for them and the communities they serve, and I know that the investment in the relationship has long term benefits.”
According to a December 2016 article published by Entrepreneur, “Even when it comes to ancillary services, consumers are more willing to work with a business that they’ve had a great experience with before than to find someone new.” (10 Reasons Why Good Customer Service Is Your Most Important Metric, Entrepreneur, December 12, 2016) The same holds true for business consumers and their vendors, and the emphasis on service is starting to make a comeback in some areas. Make no mistake, budget consciousness is still a primary priority, but trusted consultants can help you manage that and get the most for your money (instead of trying to capture a commission for merely processing an order).
There’s much more to the equation than just the order. Entrepreneur articulates it well by saying: “Today, if you’re delivering sincere value to your customers, you’re all-but guaranteeing your own success rather than sealing your fate in a coffin of corporate greed and advancement at all costs. In fact, it’s the very foundational understanding that a business must deliver value in order to transform the good to the great. That’s what creates icons in the world of business. And it all starts by having the consumer’s best interest at heart.” (10 Reasons Why Good Customer Service Is Your Most Important Metric, Entrepreneur, December 12, 2016)
It doesn’t always work out like this. There are some customers who would rather spend numerous hours looking for the least expensive option, hours they could have productively spent on other priorities if they had a trusted resource to help them find what they need and who could help them stick to a budget. There are some vendors that low ball bids in order to win jobs, sometimes at upside down margins, not caring about the long-term consequences. However, breaking through the commoditization that’s seen in many sectors is a resurgence in the value of service. Time is precious, demands are immediate, and expectations are high – and it’s impossible to satisfy all three of these without service providers who are looking out for the needs of the customer first.
“One of our senior living facility clients had been in development for months around the Fitness Center and they had specifics that they really wanted for their community,” said Tim Cluny, one of Advanced Exercise’s fitness consultants in the Active Aging market. “They wanted a specific type of balance bar that we didn’t carry at the time over one that we did, and it is my job to make sure they get what they want. I sourced the balance bar they wanted and we made sure that the budget stayed intact, because that’s what you do to make sure that your customers are happy. This is a long-term investment in a relationship, not an impulse buy for someone you’ll never cross paths with again.”
Dollars and Sense
It’s not just about the money. Expert consultants earn their service stripes by educating and helping facilities clients navigate particular areas of expertise. Service-minded consultants know that education and trustworthy guidance is the key to a longer customer relationship (lifecycle), and the longer the customer connection, the more opportunities to do business together.
“One of the key reasons I’m there is to steer educators in the fitness space,” said Rick Moser, one of Advanced Exercise’s fitness consultants specifically focused on the education market. “They’re teachers and coaches, not necessarily equipment experts or mechanics. It’s my job to help them find the right equipment that fits both their budget and their student population’s needs, as well as train them on how to use the equipment safely and how to teach their students to do so. It goes far beyond just the product choices.” It’s like the car salesman also teaching you how to drive, and how to change your oil and tires. It’s all-encompassing support.
In the fitness space, a full-service fitness provider like the team at Advanced Exercise are called upon to offer a wide range of product expertise, plus intricate recommendations about warranties, technology guidance on digital fitness connectivity or software programs, bargain hunting if specific equipment exceeds budget parameters, space planning to get the best fitness flow and use from the populations served, etc.
“Sometimes clients discover that by using an expert consultant they can save both money and time, and we’ve been able to surprise some clients at how many headaches we take off their plate and solve for them,” added Cluny. “My business is based on service, and that means being responsive and cooperative with everyone involved, finding the right solutions, and keeping the client’s needs as the priority. That’s how you gain trust, how relationships are built, and how projects get referred to you.”
About Advanced Exercise
Founded in 1986, Advanced Exercise is a leading fitness equipment and facility design resource, representing more than 30 equipment brands to bring clients the best new or used equipment solutions to maximize the use of available space and meet the needs of a diverse community of fitness amenity end users. For more information on fitness equipment and facility design services, visit www.advancedexercise.com or call 800-520-1112 to connect with one of Advanced Exercise’s experts.