Getting your way can happen in various ways. Some techniques work, and some are far less effective. While in the steam room at my fitness club, I overheard a conversation about how one gym-goer (Joe), and several of his comrades, were able to change a policy in just one day of non-stop complaining.
This fitness club in San Antonio offered a month of May promotion in which members could bring family members and friends for free. It worked! I noticed many new faces at the club, but understood the policy would end by May 31.
The main problem arose around 4 p.m. each day when all the lockers were taken. To avoid losing out on a locker, some members took the keys home. Upon recognizing the issue, the management team decided to assign keys to customers. For long-term members, this was a serious inconvenience, and many of them called the director of the club.
This conversation in the steam room between Joe and Martin describes the situation.
Joe: Well! You know that is a bunch of crap! This is stupid!
Martin: What happened, Joe?
Joe: Look … I’ve been a member of this damn club for decades, and now they decide to run this crazy promotion. Bring your family! Bring your friends! What the hell is next?
Martin: I think management was not ready for the wave of people who would take advantage of the offer.
Joe: I don’t care about the offer, and I don’t care what they think! I pay $30 for a smaller locker in the back, and I usually find a bigger locker nearby where I can put the rest of my stuff. Not today, though. I had to be assigned a key. Can you believe that? I had to ask for a key! The young lady at the front gave me a key to a locker near the front. I told her she was “nuts!” I’m not taking that locker. It’s too far from the $30 locker that I pay each month, month-after-month, year-after-year. C’mon!
Martin: Did you get the locker you wanted?
Joe: You’re damn right I did! I had a hell of a line behind me, and I wasn’t moving until I got my locker.
Martin: Joe, you seem a little upset.
Joe: Hell … I’m not upset. I’m flat-out pissed! How can they change policy without first talking to us, those who have been here for centuries?
Martin: You’re old, Joe … but centuries?
Joe: You know what I mean. Stop being stupid!
Martin [amused]: Geez, Joe … I will make sure to get you on the line next time I have to negotiate my electricity bill.
Joe: It’s getting too hot in here, and you’re not helping much. I’m going to go bitch to the management team! This will change! Later!
The “assign your key” policy lasted just one day. The old-timers complained enough, and management relented. Joe is right that the squeaky wheel usually gets the oil. While most members can tolerate the inconvenience, management should have done a better job anticipating the locker scarcity problem. This is a case in which poor planning, and even worse communication, aggravated those customers with the most loyalty to the business.