There comes a time in every man or woman’s life where they need to make a change. They need to take that step to end a relationship so they can move on to something else, whether for the better or for the sake of change. That’s right, I’m talking about quitting the gym.
The well-earned reputation of fitness centres making it difficult for you to end your membership is legendary. Yes, they even made a Friends episode about it.
I recently felt the need to make such a jump, from one gym (cough GoodLife Fitness cough) to another. It wasn’t for any particular reason, I just wanted a change and felt one might motivate me (FYI – it never works). There’s nothing wrong with change for the sake of change…the only problem was I had to quit a gym. Crap.
To be honest, I did go in expecting a battle so as a pre-emptive strike, I tried a more passive-aggressive tactic. Instead of just walking in and saying, “I Quit!”, I went with this approach:
“Hi, could you tell me whether I signed up for a year membership or month-to-month.”
“Absolutely. Well, it looks like you signed up for a year and that it actually expired two days ago. Would you like to re-sign up?”
(I couldn’t have planned a better opening)
“Actually, no. I’d like to quit.”
And then what you would expect…the staff immediately asking if I was in a hurry because they needed to sit down with me and fill out some paper work. I told them I was actually in a hurry but that didn’t seem to matter much. I told them I wasn’t interested in trying to be convinced to stay. The staff member assured me that wasn’t what was going to happen.
Three things I learned while ending my
- I sat down and waited, not too long but longer than cancelling my membership should have taken. When the employee sat down, she apologized for the wait (nice) and then started with some of the most forced small talk I’ve experienced in a while (“So, nice weather out there” “Any plans for the weekend?”). Sorry, but I’m breaking up with you. That process is awkward and so is this.
Lesson One: Ending a relationship doesn’t have to be awkward. You both know why you’re there. Make it as easy and as understanding as possible.
- Though I was quitting and my contract had ended, the last membership payment I owed was scheduled in two days. This mean they couldn’t cancel it. In order to cancel payment, they need 10 days. Yes, 10 days to cancel a bank transaction. Sorry, I’ll try to be calm here but… WHAT YEAR IS THIS?! When I asked for the reason for this, their response: “Because we do everything on paper it takes forever.” (Now, keep in mind, we’re both sitting at a computer for her to review my membership while she says this.)
Lesson Two: Don’t stick to prehistoric business processes that hurt the customer experience. Who are you serving?
- Because they couldn’t cancel my upcoming payment for a few days and I had paid first/last month when I joined, I was good to use the gym until the middle of June (though if I do my math correctly, I should be good until the END of June). Unfortunately, I was then told my keycard to gain access is only good for another two weeks. To recap: good for a month but my access is only available for 2 weeks. Their answer for this one: sorry, old technology.
Lesson Three: If you have to apologize repeatedly for your business processes, someone needs to fix your business processes.
Thankfully, I was able to actually end my contract. So no more of this gym for me. And though it wasn’t a great experience, I thought it would have been much worse because I’ve been through much worse when quitting a gym.
But a customer experience not only includes the ongoing relationship, but also the end of it. Ending someone’s contract should be an easy process. In this case:
- Step 1: End payment.
- Step 2: Cancel my access keycard.
- Step 3: …there needs to be a step three? If you work at a gym, could you tell me I’m wrong? Please?
But gyms have to go through this song and dance to look for opportunities to keep you or make quitting so painful that they just don’t. A great parting gift would be an exit interview to better understand how they did as a business, where their strengths and weaknesses are to be a better company. That I would stick around for.
The funny thing is if you, as a gym, are good to your customers when they leave, they are more than likely to come back or recommend you. Wouldn’t you rather be seen as the reliable friend who’s there when you need them rather than that person who made it really uncomfortable when you broke up?
What’s the best and worst experiences you’ve had quitting the gym? Please share below.