By: Jim Thomas
Jim Thomas’ Fitness Management & Consulting
Some successful health club owners believe they are a success because of some type of instinctive understanding of the business. With this thought process, many begin to believe since they have done it once; it will be easy to do it again and again. Many times they take things for granted and start to eliminate some of the key components that made them successful the first time. They don’t plan and train their staff quite as hard and they forget that success is never guaranteed.
In membership sales, such key items as the master appointment book, daily phone contacts, daily appointments, regular sales training and prospecting for new leads can be taken for granted and even overlooked. We become reactive in our approach instead of proactive. Some key issues to tackle to keep yourself and your business sharp include:
One common statement I hear from club owners and manager’s is, “Well, I told them.” What they mean is, they told them once and then expected it to be done.
People receive communication in different ways. If you only use one form of correspondence, the message could get lost. When you need to inform your staff or members, I suggest you communicate the message through multiple avenues. You could use signs, communication log books at your front desk, office banners, emails, text messages, newsletters, phone calls, formal training classes, informal training, and so forth. Don’t expect one form of communication to get the job done. You will need a plan to follow up to make sure the announcement was received.
Too often I hear a club owner complain how he was too removed from the day to day activity of the club and more worried about being the employee’s friend to see when they were not completing their job to its fullest. These employees were not being held accountable.
Accountability is defined as responsibility; what the job is and who's going to do it and when. Responsibilities needs to be in writing and confirmed so everyone has a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Accountable items can be anything from generating and reviewing reports for salespeople to planning an open house. Always inspect what you expect. You should understand that everybody needs to be held accountable for completing their assigned job duties on-time and in an effective manner.
When we go into a facility and conduct an Operational Analysis, we will conduct interviews with key staff members. One of the questions we ask is, “What is your job description?” Then we go to the club owner and ask the same question. It’s interesting how often the answers differ. Be sure you’re on the same page with what’s expected. Your silence will be interpreted as acceptance.
We want to make sure employees are enjoying their work and we are providing an environment which allows a motivated person to act, as well as, run a tight operation. If you are not careful, the health club business can be too much fun; however some are to the other extreme and are too rigid and dry. Somewhere in the middle is where you want to be. As the owner or manager, you need to have all processes in place so you will be assured all actionable items are taken care of in the most enjoyable environment possible. A happy and motivated employee is the best employee to have.
Have a System and Have a Plan
We all know that the most valuable asset in any facility is our people. However, one of the keys to avoiding success apathy is to manage the system. Whether it’s a long-term employee or a new hire, the system remains the same and should be implemented and followed up on each day. Don’t simply assume they are going to do it. Everyone needs leadership and direction. Have plans in place for recruiting staff, membership sales, advertising and marketing, and for resolving conflict. Be sure you are following a proven system and follow up.