Club owners sometimes tend to think they are successful at the health club business because of a Jedi-like expertise or a super-instinctive understanding. They are “good,” and if they’ve done it once; they think they can do it again and again. Eventually, club managers or owners start eliminating some of the key elements that make the club run well – and they becomes a little apathetic to the ultimate detail and fundamentals that made the clubs successful in the first place. Time goes on. They take things for granted. They don’t plan and train their staff quite as hard. They forget that success is guaranteed to no one. For example, key items such 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.
If you haven’t done so lately, now is the time to freshen up, liven up, and essentially reboot your club’s operations to keep it moving in the right – and profitable – direction. Start with these key areas:
1. Accountability. This means defining the job, who is going to do it, and when it will be done. This should be in writing and confirmed so that everybody involved in this area of accountability has a complete understanding. You should understand that everybody needs to be held accountable for completing their assigned job duties on time and effectively. As you go along, you’ll notice specific areas for accountability: generating reports for salespeople, reviewing reports, ordering supplies, or coordinating an open house. One of the things I hear is, “I was way too hands-off, way too easy going, way too concerned with being a friend to my staff and not holding them accountable.” Earn their respect, not their friendship. Inspect what you expect.
When we go into a facility and conduct an Operational Analysis, we interview
key staff members. One of the questions we ask is, “What is your job description?” We ask the club owner the same question regarding that particular staff member’s duties. It’s always 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.
2. A System. We all know that the most valuable asset in any facility is the people; however, one of the keys to avoiding success apathy is to manage the system. We may be talking about a long-term employee or a new hire, but the system should remain the same, with your implementation and follow-up occurring every day. Don’t simply assume they are going to do it. Everyone needs leadership and direction. Have a plan for your membership sales, a plan for advertising and marketing, a plan for recruiting staff, a plan for resolving conflict, etc. Be sure you are following a proven system….and follow up.
3. Communication. People listen in different ways. Some people like to read, some people like meetings some people like to look at their email, some people like to receive a phone call or text message, etc. I suggest that you come up with several different ways to communicate with your employees (and members, of course). Make sure you follow up to get confirmation that they received the message, and don’t expect one form of communication to get the job done. Experiment with the best forms of communications: signs, communication log books at your front desk, office banners, emails, text messages, newsletters, phone calls, formal training classes, informal training, and so forth.
One of the common statements 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.
If communication were only that easy, the job of management wouldn’t be necessary.
4. Fun. We know that the health club business should be a tightly-run operation, but we also want to treat people well. We want to make sure that they enjoy their work and that we provide an environment that allows a motivated person to act. At the same time, the club business can be too much fun if you’re not careful. Other health club businesses can be too dry; so somewhere in the middle you, as the owner or manager, holding people accountable, need to have all of the processes in place. Think in terms of “we want it all to be done, but we want it to be enjoyable as well.”
Now, keep up the success!