I’m guessing you barely even have time to read this, so I’m going to get straight to the point: The January rush is on. You’ve been preparing for it, no doubt, since early last month. Take a breather (a really short one) and make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row. If you don’t, don’t panic: You still have time to create solutions and ready yourself and your facility for the swell of 2016 resolution-makers you’re going to see in the coming weeks. Here are some top tips:
1) Ensure that any new staff members you’ve hired to handle the busy time are fully trained and confident. You probably lined those new employees up several weeks ago, and no doubt you’ve been teaching them the ins and outs of your facility’s operations. Don’t assume they’re ready to fly, though: You need to check in with them frequently (several times a day for the first week or so) to make sure they understand your procedures and are handling your most valuable resources (your customers) with great care. Give them ample opportunity to ask questions about anything they don’t understand. Create checklists for them to simplify their tasks. Hold staff meetings once a week, and publicly recognize the contributions of your temporary staff members so they feel invested in your facility.
2) With all staff, old and new, temporary and long term, make sure you’ve conveyed a clear idea about what to expect. They need to be prepared to handle lines of people checking in, chaotic situations, and possibly some impatient customers. The more prepared they are, the more likely they’ll be to keep their cool in tough situations.
3) Your sales team needs to be as highly prepared as your greeters and front desk staff. Educate the team about the specific ways in which your club stands out from the competition. In order to leave prospects with the impression that it’s simply a fact that your club is better, your sales staff should be able to spew off your club’s distinguishing features effortlessly and with great confidence. On a related note, if there’s any time of the year to offer sign-up incentives, this is it. Figure out what extras your facility can offer to attract new members, and make sure prospects understand exactly what those extras are.
4) Increase your staff’s efficiency. Arm sales people and other employees with tablets or other mobile devices that make processes seamless for both prospects and current members. Front desk folk can walk down the line of waiting customers, checking them in. Sales staff can iron out the enrollment process by having paperless forms at their fingertips.
5) Adjust schedules to accommodate heavy traffic. Slate classes for non-peak hours in order to channel people toward slower periods. If, during these heavily trafficked weeks, you realize your current schedule isn’t working, don’t be afraid to make changes. Customers will easily adjust once they realize their own needs are better served by more efficiently scheduled classes.
Whatever you do during this beginning-of-the-year rush, take note of what works for you and what doesn’t. Reflect on ways in which you might be better prepared next year. If necessary, make resolutions of your own about getting started in November this year. Post-Halloween is the perfect time to begin setting yourself up for New Year’s success — and to make things run so smoothly that you’re setting your new and existing members up for success as well.