It's all about relationships

As some of you may know, the company I work for hosted Chris Brogan at a tweet-up yesterday, and I was fortunate enough to spend some time with him.

Naturally he spoke about building relationships, but he also demonstrated the importance of making people feel comfortable and important. (Note: I do not mean important in an ego-boosting way. I mean important as in feeling like you matter, like you are someone worth getting to know.)

How many business opportunities are blown each day by people acting rude, dismissive and cold? How many times would a simple smile and “How are you?” be enough to have a lasting positive impact?

I was reminded of this while touring Bally Total Fitness on Milwaukee’s lower east side tonight. I walked in with my boyfriend for our 6 p.m. appointment and asked for Derrick (who I had spoken to Monday). Derrick did not seem to remember our conversation, but he was happy to show us around.

The tour ended and we went upstairs to talk about rates. Here’s where the relationship started to deteriorate. Derrick brings out his fancy, lamented pricing sheet and shows us the options. It’s going to cost over $70/person upfront and $23/month after that.

Now $23/month isn’t bad considering the place has a pool, sauna, racquet ball court and classes that are included with your membership. However, it’s a tad more than I wanted to spend, so I mention other gyms are offering lower rates and I have a few friends with better rates at Bally. Any chance he would be willing to work with us? Here’s where it turned ugly.

“We don’t negotiate rates. We’re a national chain. Anyone who told you they got a deal is lying.”

Whoa. Calm down Voldermort. I’m suddenly rethinking our friendship.

Instead of getting defensive Derrick should have said, “I’m sorry. We are a national chain, so I am not able to negotiate rates. However, we do run promotions from time to time. In fact, next month we are introducing “X” promotion."

If the conversation had gone that way I would not have walked away feeling cheap and unimportant. I would have felt valued, and there’s a real possibility I would have signed up for the full rate.

Long story short, I might join Bally, but I will look at other fitness centers too. Maybe I will have a more positive experience. I’ll see you Saturday, Snap Fitness.

What kinds of relationship building experiences have influenced your buying decisions? Have you chosen a product or service based on how the company made you feel?


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January 29, 2010 at 8:22 AM  

Sarah, you should definitely try Snap Fitness. Their equipment is so nice and they don't make you sign a contract. It's month by month so at least your not locked into anything. I'm stuck at LA Fitness because I have contract, but at soon as it's up, I am switching. :)

January 29, 2010 at 8:23 AM  

Thanks, Krista. I plan on checking them out Saturday. I've heard a lot of good things about them.

January 29, 2010 at 9:55 AM  

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