What’s in a name?

Every name you label, every task you assign and every word you use in business defines your true intent and underscores your ultimate success or failure, says Paul Brown.

Success is a pretty positive word in the western world, with two syllables, these seven letters spell out a most desirable outcome, the pursuit of which, by most accounts, is an admirable trait. Still, it’s just a word. Or is it?

Research has shown that the name a baby is given will directly affect it for the rest of its life. The Johnny Cash song, ‘A Boy Named Sue’ illustrated that perfectly. Complex names, those hard to spell or pronounce and names that mimic temporary pop culture are more likely to result in resumes being pushed aside and serious credibility being harder to earn. Strong, simple, short names that have a positive edge to them will give any child an advantage right through to adulthood. They say it’s just a name, but is it?

Likewise the name you choose for your business will either work for you or against you, and if you have to explain what you do after you tell someone who you are, you have either chosen the wrong name or failed to earn a reputation strong enough to overcome your non-descriptive name. You have to be in business for a long time and always do the right thing, or spend an exorbitant amount of money on marketing, to have a brand that speaks for itself regardless of the name it goes by. Everybody knows what Yellow Pages does because it has history and marketing on its side. Everybody knows what MumsFit Personal Training does because it has a well chosen name.

It’s amazing how many other words and names we use, particularly in our careers and in business, that have a profound influence on our perception, our attitude and our success. It’s a double-edged sword: you can use positive and appealing vernacular or you can be self-defeating and unwittingly sabotage your own efforts.

Take for example the classic term CRM, which stands for Client Relationship Management. Its supposed intention is to systematically enhance and build on the valued bond between an organisation and its most valued contacts. Too often, however, it turns out that these are just words. The irony is that many companies that employ sophisticated CRM strategies have little or no relationship with their intended targets. They hope that by being seen to make an effort, and by using friendly and often sugar-coated messages, they can come off as caring and helpful and thus earn some sense of loyalty.

Using automated systems is certainly a low-cost and high-reach approach, but to be cost-effective it has to be effective – after all, that’s the word that is supposed to justify the cost! Surveys have shown regular contact from someone you know and trust is usually welcomed and influencing.

Meanwhile, continued communications, no matter what the content, from someone you have never met, barely know or worse still, believe fell short of their original service and deliverable promises, are almost always rejected as spam and generate feelings of resentment that can blacklist your brand in their mind forever.

So, should businesses abandon CRM efforts and forgo any chance of enhancing their client relations? Of course not, but to manage, or better still, nurture the relationship, there needs to be one first. In the world of fitness we welcome new clients every day with open arms, promising them a better life through health and fitness in an environment that is safe, friendly, stimulating and motivating. The quality of relationship with each and every member or client you have will mostly be determined by how well you integrate them into the fold from day one. In a traditionally people-centric industry like ours, this is best – and most easily – done face to face. A modest investment in one-on-one time is still the most powerful way to show someone they are important to you and if that can lead to lifetime positive habits and results then you go down in history as a hero, along with their Grade One teacher and the neighbour who rescued them from attacking magpies all those years ago.

So, what if your business model is lean on staff but you still want a loyal and well informed clientele? Achieving this in the absence of sufficient people on the ground to coach and motivate requires forethought and information navigation.

Whatever your club model, there should be a conscious and determined effort to get to know your clients and understand fully where they are now and where they want to be – and to then, in a systematic manner, guide them there.

There needs to be a two-way dialogue and in this technological age much of this can be achieved in a virtual relationship so long as the intent to know, understand and serve is just as sincere as if they were your own family members coming to transform their lives under your personal supervision.

One of the partner clubs of my business, Face2Face, that I recently visited is a growing and highly successful brand in Mackay, Northern Queensland called City Fitness. It’s been my honour to work with them for a number of years, and what impresses me most about them is their attitude, which is so well defined by the words they use. Their language is always positive, always optimistic and always progressive – but most importantly, these words transfer into their actions and how they define their success.

They don’t count members, they count ‘Friends’. They don’t book tours or meet and greet prospects, they welcome ‘New Friends’. Yes, they sell memberships, but these are simply formalities to ensure unimpeded access and the appropriate levels of service, remembering no relationship should ever have an expiration date. Their goal is to keep every friendship strong and for as long as possible because they know every Friend matters. Some Friends, of course, do have to move on eventually as their work or personal lives demand, but all relationships are formed and nurtured as if for life. These are more than words: it is their culture that defines their success.

With thousands of friendships to manage, they still use effective CRM strategies, but they are only effective because each relationship was first earned and every Friend was rightly made to feel respected and valued.

So, remember today as you go about your business that every name you label, every task you assign and every word you use will emit its own subliminal message that will define your true intent and thus underscore your ultimate success or failure.

Success and failure: just two words, each with two syllables and seven letters, but worlds apart in appeal. Choose your words carefully and choose your world.

Paul Brown
Known globally as Mr Retention, Paul delivers comprehensive systems and staff training to health clubs all over the world to successfully solve their attrition challenges and grow their bottom line. He is an undisputed master of helping new members make fitness a way of life. His presentations draw on 30 years as a fitness professional, champion athlete, club manager and club owner/operator. He is a celebrated international speaker, best-selling author and business consultant. For more information visit www.retentionf2f.com


Paul will be sharing his vast business and member retention knowledge at FILEX 2013 where he will be presenting:

For more information on Paul’s sessions check out the fully interactive site at www.filex.com.au where you can also register for the convention or the all-inclusive Business Gold Pass package that includes access to the Business Summit and the Business Breakfast events.