Gold’s Gym and a Failure in Quality

Posted on June 2, 2013 | in Defects, Quality, Root Cause Analysis, Sports | by
gold's gym north augusta south carolina

There’s more to operating a fitness business than simply tossing a bunch of machines out on the floor.

I’m essentially clueless about physical training. There’s a lot I need to change about my overall physical fitness. I’m a semi-healthy eater when I’m at home, but when it comes to working out I need a lot of help. I had mulled over joining a gym and dragged my heels about actually making it happen until about a month or so ago.

Some criteria I had for the gym I select would be:

– proximity to my house (can’t use “far drive” as an excuse to not go)
– availability of trainers (someone with more knowledge needs to help me)
– variety of machines and classes (I don’t want to limit myself)
– long hours of access (my schedule is crazy and I need early mornings and late nights at the gym)
– minimal red tape (those fees and cancellation costs are ridiculous)

After requesting some referrals from friends that are members of different area gyms I joined the Gold’s Gym in North Augusta, SC as it met all of my criteria. It also helps that they have a network of gyms across the country that I can visit while I’m on the road (I took advantage of this while I was in Indianapolis for the ASQ World Conference).

In addition to the gym membership I also inquired about personal trainers. For a fee I would work with this trainer once a month on monitoring my fitness goals, designing workouts that if properly followed would help me achieve my goals while also keeping some basic physical ailments in mind (I’ve been having some lower back issues), and some assistance with meal planning/food intake. Based on what the program offers and the rate the gym charges, I signed up.

My basic expectations/outputs for the training program are:

– Weekly specifically-designed workout routines that focus on different areas of my body (core, arms, legs, etc.) that I carry with me or keep at the gym (because I won’t see the trainer every day)
– Use of the online calorie burn/food consumption monitoring program
– Monthly checks on measurements

I expect the value of the program to be very apparent. Simple expectations, right? I’m given a path to follow (work instructions) and the proper monitoring tools (monthly checks = strategic metrics, monitoring program = routine tactical metrics) I should see results.

Early last month I had my initial assessment with a trainer named Darrell. He would set me up with the full program once I had fully signed up for (and paid for) the next session, which I scheduled for late last week. Unfortunately between that initial assessment and my first full training session (last Thursday) Darrell left the company and I was assigned a new trainer.

No worries. I did have to do some initial assessment stuff over (somehow my paperwork upon starting the program got misplaced) but we went through one phase of a workout and the trainer said I’d have my monthly workout plan saved for me at the gym and I could come get it anytime I needed. I expect to be at the gym 4-6 days a week so I’d need to start using my workout plan right away.

Cut to Saturday when things go awry.

I’m ready to use my workout plan. I go to the back filing cabinet where my monthly workout plan should be kept. It’s not there. Nothing is prepared. In fact, on a table near the filing cabinet:

gold's gym north augusta sc initial assessment

I really don’t care for my personal information to be shared out in the open like this.

Not only is my workout plan not done, nothing appears to be done and the trainer just left my initial assessment/goals/data out in the open for anyone to come and grab.

I go to the front desk to get assistance. I ask what the story is with my workout plan, I show them the filing cabinet and my paperwork out on the table, and I simply look for answers. The fellow I talk to says “I’m just a sales guy, I can’t speak for any of the trainers and what they do because they’re part of a different company and they don’t work on weekends…”

(Unfortunately, this gentleman is misinformed – the trainers are now part of Gold’s Gym and not a separate company.)

Basically this “sales guy” was pretty ill-informed about what he was selling overall. After he couldn’t answer my questions (and really didn’t want to answer them, as he was trying to walk away from me as fast as possible) he said “Well just go work on some cardio.”

No, sales guy. I’m not paying you to create my workout. I’ve paid to work with a physical trainer on a workout plan, and I have not yet received that value.

Last week I asked the question “What is quality?” My short answer to that question was:

the rate by which customer expectations are met, where customer expectations are “what the customer wants, the quantity the customer wants, when the customer wants it, where the customer wants it, and in what condition the customer wants it.”

Because my experience with the Gold’s Gym personal training staff has fallen short of fulfilling my basic customer expectations – no workout plan, no access granted to the online calorie burn/food monitor yet, failure to protect private information, but I’m still billed on a monthly basis – this was a low quality transaction.

There’s more to operating a business that sells physical fitness than just a bunch of machines. It’s good that Gold’s Gym offers personal trainers but their process of maintaining customer relationships needs a serious examination.

~~~~~~~

In a similar story on quality, with a failure to meet basic customer expectations, here’s fellow ASQ Influential Voices blogger Nicole Radziwill with her very iffy experience with a European rental car transaction.

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9 Responses to “Gold’s Gym and a Failure in Quality”

  1. jai says:

    Quality is “how much customer’s expectations is met”.

  2. Austin S. Lin says:

    Great observation and sorry to hear that your experience was such a disorganized one. Unfortunate that a business designed to help with your health actually becomes more of a barrier than a partner. With the large number of gym franchises out there, definitely agree that it ends up being quality, not introductory deals or quantity of equipment, that ends up differentiating one brand from another. Lapses in customer experience like the one you described are just doors left open by once high reputation companies, welcoming their competitors in to out-deliver them and earn, not steal, away customers.

    • Chad Walters says:

      Thanks Austin. It appears that it’s easy for companies to allow a disconnect between sales/marketing and product/service development to exist. The sales guy needs to believe in what he sells, marketing needs to be linked to product development so that a company provides what the market needs, and product development needs to deliver what the sales guy is promising. An unlinked, siloed organization is not fully integrating Lean as an operating philosophy.

      I feel that being a Lean practitioner has completely spoiled me. I have higher operational standards for businesses, because I’ve *seen* what good can be and I can spot operational defects easily. Now I can’t stop pointing them out. Having a Lean mindset has made me intolerant (or a lot less tolerant) for service errors, but less so in how it affects me but more so for other customers who don’t know how to fix problems and simply give up and walk away.

  3. Bruce Resnick says:

    One would hope that this problem is limited to the transition between utilizing outside training resources and bringing that function in-house, of course it also indicates that they have some work to do with their “front desk” personnel. Regardless of the cause, it has created a less than satisfactory image in a customer’s mind, which is most certainly a problem.

    While you should have been able to resolve your problems at the front desk, I can only assume you did not leave the situation stand as is. Did you take your concerns further up? If so, did you find a similar lack of concern?

    • Chad Walters says:

      Hi Bruce –

      I apologize for the late reply. I escalated my concern to the manager, who said there’s nothing he can do about the issues and his hands are tied by legal language and corporate.

      Further escalation is required and will be. Will report back. Not letting this go without a fight, which seems really unreasonable, yes?

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  5. beatrice says:

    We need gold gym in south augusta, ga
    With spa

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