People Talk - How to Lose a Prospect in 3 Days

An aerial view of downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. Businesses without people are just buildings!
Today, The Educated Emotion starts its People Talk Series. This series will teach you how to lose a good prospect, a good client, a good customer, a good employee, and a good referral in 3 days or less! 


How to Lose a Prospect
Last year, I went shopping for a new gym for the first time in years.  I am, by no means, a "gym rat". In fact,  I could probably live inside of a YMCA and still avoid working out on certain days. However, I do like to see energized, welcoming faces when I go to workout. This makes me think they will notice if I am missing in action - which is a good thing for me. Also, as a new entrepreneur, my time and budget are stretched.  In this quest to find the best fit for me, my lifestyle, and my budget I spent about 6 weeks taking tours of various facilities, taking advantage of complimentary guest passes, and hearing a whole bunch of speeches about amenities and customer satisfaction. 

All of the gyms had their perks and pluses - one had a pool and a hot tub, a couple had classes included with the membership, one had a blow dryer that actually heated up to the proper setting to dry my hair and one had real soap and hot water - not that foamy, fad stuff that comes out like shaving gel - but real soap! Still aglow with my new discovery, I walked around the locker room in complete satisfaction. Of all the gyms I had been to, this was the most expensive but also the most plush spot yet. Maybe I could make this work into my budget. Perhaps I could work part-time there. I didn't have it all figured out, but I knew I wanted to be a part of this gym. Later that night, I told a good friend that I had found the dream gym.

Day 2
The next day when I went for day two of my complimentary pass, I had a question about my pass. The person who had originally set up my pass told me I could change the days I used it at the front desk. She uttered the four most despised words for a customer to hear, "it should be fine." There was a bunch of confusion about my request and I was told to call later that day to ask for a certain staff member. For me, that is always a customer service red flag. If there is nothing I did wrong, why should I have to be the one to call? Why is the customer service representative too busy to provide customer service or call back a customer?

Once I went to the locker room and washed my hands (with hot water and real soap!), I forgot about my red flag incident. After, I walked out of the fabulous exercise classes, I was back in love. Still unsure about the financial side of the decision, I stopped a staffer with a basket full of towels. I asked her how long she had worked at the gym. She said, "four years." I didn't want to come right out and ask her how much she got paid so I asked her how she likes it and that I was thinking about applying for a part-time position to offset the expense. Within several minutes I got my answer and then some. She said she had worked at this gym for four years and only received one raise, she was passed up for a promotion because the boss promoted a friend, the lack of appreciation had sapped most of her motivation, and she didn't workout because she dreaded coming in and couldn't get wait to get off each day.

So, here it was. Day Two of my 3-day pre-commitment honeymoon and I was doubting my decision. Later that night, against my beliefs, I called the gym to speak with the customer service person I was directed to call to figure out what was going on with my guest pass. 20 minutes later, all I accomplished was a voice mail  after being passed around via several hurried telephone voices.

Day 3
The next morning, I received a call from a name at the gym I had not heard. Before I could tell her my situation, she started in with a speech.

"Sorry you are going through this. You signed up with _____. <insert teeth sucking>. She should not have let you have this pass at this time. We generally avoid peak days...."

The lady on the phone went on for a good three minutes before she paused long enough for me to say anything. That's when I officially decided to break up.