3 Ways Climbing Can Surge Up Teamwork.

3 Ways Climbing Can Surge Up Teamwork.

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For every key I type there is a small sting in the “distal phalange” of my fingers. In other words, each and every joint in my fingers are aching. And you know what? For the story and team bonding experience that I am about to share—it is totally, absolutely, 100% worth it.
So, here’s the gravity of the situation. Before I was a master of fearing heights, I was a veteran of never turning down the opportunity to spend time with others. Part of having a detail oriented filter is this urge to learn more, from both myself and the people around me. So, who was I to say no, I don’t want to do this awesome thing that could potentially open my perspective? I said yes before I could remember what yes means and then spent the remainder of days dreading my amiable tendencies.
But I climbed. I climbed a fifteen-foot wall. A tanned fifteen-foot wall stapled with brightly colored stones, some in the shapes of dinosaurs—and others, just stones. I would soon come to identify these as holds. I learned the name as our instructor waved his hand along a path of said colored stones and said “each hold has a color grade and route.” He proceeded to explain that the color hold you start with helps determine your route for as far as you can go.
So, for example, you choose a green hold, you should ideally reach for nothing but more green holds. My mind has a detail oriented filter (as I’ve mentioned) so learning how much color and design is put into indoor climbing was pretty impressive. Some holds looked like flaming heads and some looked like turtle shells. However, color coded holds are not the part of this story that I will be detailing further. This was just an opener to explain how there’s so much more to climbing than a surface observation. What it takes to climb is courage, confidence, trust, and most of all, good teamwork because when you climb, you don’t climb alone. It takes teamwork. Yes. It takes two to climb.

Be the Belayer. Support Your Team.

To climb, there must be two people, each with a role and title. The first, naturally, is the climber. This is the one who embarks on a journey upward. The second, is the belayer. This lucky penny is responsible for pulling a rope connected to the climber as they climb.
The more rope the belayer has under their arms, the safer the journey down for the climber when they choose to descend. It sounds easy in theory, but in action, quite stressful, yet exceptionally rewarding. Being the belayer is being both a physical and mental cheerleader for the team. Each pull on the rope is a cheer of support for your colleagues. The more support given to your colleagues the quicker they can reach their goals and also recover from any fall.simplified illustration of people climbing a rock wall

Be The Climber. Trust Your Team.

As the climber, I constantly felt the rope of my harness pulling back, ensuring my safety as I slowly reached higher and higher. It was a noticeable pulling sensation at first and then it became a second thought as I continued to climb. Later I realized that was trust. Reaching ahead towards your goals without looking back but knowing there is someone there to help.
Of course, we all have our moments of doubt that suddenly come back full force. When I reached the top it happened, I froze and my mind went blank. There was nothing I could do alone because the next step for me was to lean away from the wall as if I was…. you guessed it, falling. Except I wouldn’t fall. The rope being pulled by my belayer slowly, safely reeled me down and I felt like a bird safely floating on a tree branch. It felt easy. With trust teamwork is easy. Though full disclosure, I didn’t lean back immediately after reaching the top, but after an experience of good sound teamwork, there will be no hesitation.

Be The Volunteer. Motivate Your Team

You already know, I wasn’t on board with climbing in the beginning and I probably would have never tried it on my own. But there was something that made me agree to try and that was the enthusiasm of my friend who asked me. My friend the volunteer. It was through their energy that I agreed to partake in an experience that would completely enhance the bond between us.
So what’s the message here? It’s to be the volunteer. Be the one who ventures and asks and occasionally dares. Rock climbing is not the obvious solution to stronger team building but it is a good example of those looking for new team building activities. From freeze tag to charades, there’s a chance you’ve played a game that tests the bond between you and your coworkers. While you may think the best way to enhance that bond is to keep playing the same game, the better solution is to instead try something completely new. New experiences and challenges help us improve our skills, so why not add “rock climber” to your team player description? It’ll surely stand out on any resume!

gym healthcare

Workplace Wellness Programs: Value of Investment Over Return on Investment

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If you’ve ever contemplated partnering with businesses to offer employer-sponsored fitness programs, there’s no time like the present. No, really — there’s no time like the present. According to the ninth annual Willis Health and Productivity survey, 2015 is a “watershed year” for employer-sponsored health and wellness offerings. As has been the case for a number of years now, employers increasingly are offering programs designed to help employees achieve and maintain better health. But now employers have begun looking beyond the financial gains of such programs. “Given a choice, respondents focused on the value of a health management program…over program cost,” the report states.

What it comes down to is this: More organizations are turning away from expectations of an immediate return on investment (ROI) for their wellness programs and turning toward the value of investment (VOI) of such programs. In other words, they care less about reducing medical costs and more about boosting employee morale, increasing worksite productivity, reducing employee absence, and keeping employees safe. The Willis report states that, of 703 survey respondents, 64 percent have VOI-focused wellness programs, compared with 28 percent that have ROI-focused programs. For health clubs, gyms, and fitness centers, this means greater opportunities to provide quality programs to workplaces.

Interestingly, the report also notes that “Of those organizations without a wellness program, the majority of respondents (29%) stated that they do not have enough time or staff to start a program.” Again, this is an opening for health clubs, gyms, and fitness centers. Consider how your facility might put together predesigned packages — and customized packages — that provide full workplace health and wellness programs, including physical activity, healthy-eating plans, weight loss and management, tobacco-use reduction, and the like. Then consider the ways in which you could market such a program to businesses in your area. Knowing that companies are more interested in VOI than ROI, you might make increased productivity, better self-care, and higher employee morale some of your selling points. You might need to educate your potential partners on the advantages of focusing on VOI over ROI. You could sum those up the way the Willis Report does: “Organizations with a Value of Investment (VOI) focus tended to be more satisfied with the impact of their programs.” And you’ll definitely want to point out the time, staff, and other resources the businesses would save by partnering with you.

One thing to keep in mind is that, according to the report, “Forty-three percent of the respondents have implemented a health club reimbursement subsidy or corporate discount, and 35 percent have implemented a health club corporate discount.” Offering the businesses in your area a discount for their employees gives you a low-maintenance way of providing businesses with the health and wellness programs they want but don’t have the resources to incorporate on-site.  Make sure your club management software is capable of tracking these corportate or business membership programs. For example, a good management software system will make it simple to pull reports for each corporate plan and allow businesses to easily calculate employee reimbursements. All in all, now is the perfect time to assess your existing plan for partnering with businesses to offer workplace wellness programs or to develop a new plan — and then to get out there and sell those programs. Businesses are hungry for them.

personal trainers

Finding Time to Combat Epic Gym Fails

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Most gym enthusiasts will, at some point, observe an ‘Epic Gym Fail’ whilst working out. With smart phones in hand, there is plenty of supporting evidence that more and more people are being captured executing what can only be described as ‘Gnarly maneuvers’. These videos range from misfortunate to downright stupid. To add insult to injury (which is very likely) these videos end up online for all to see.

Putting aside the ethical debate of posting these videos in the first place, it’s clear from reading viewers’ comments that some people find these clips comedic gold. On the flip side, there are others that suggest the people capturing these videos would be better off giving advice rather than jeering at these poor souls’ lack of education and safety training.

Other than the humiliation and obvious risk of serious injury to the gym member, you have to ask what it’s saying about the facility these events take place in. Imagine signing up as a new Gym member and then witnessing some crazy guy doing a Tarzan impression with a weight machine on your social media feed? I know I’d certainly question whether the staff are giving the right advice, let alone, if I’d made the right choice in signing up for this gym.

Having witnessed several gym fails for myself, I’ve often wondered why there are no staff members monitoring the floor at all times. Surely if more staff were around they would step in to educate, combat and eradicate these events from occurring in the first place.

So how does one go about finding time when resources and budgets are already stretched thin? Make no mistake; it’s not easy juggling schedules, payments, memberships, attrition rates, marketing, disparate systems and other managerial duties involved in running a Gym. It’s no wonder some Gym’s find it hard to balance a good mix of monitoring their members whilst adhering to all the other business processes required! I’m sure, if given the chance, all Gym owners would love to find more time to nurture the wellbeing and success of their clients’ goals by giving hands-on help at all times – sadly that’s not always an option.

So my point is this: How do Gym owners and their staff free more time to spend with customers, ensuring safety, good customer care and, most importantly, no Epic Gym Fails?.

There are two very simple answers: The more obvious one is to employ more staff, which we have already established isn’t always a viable option due to lack of funding. The second less obvious answer is to work out how to streamline, consolidate and automate some of your business processes to free up valuable time and resources. As with any business the first place you can always look to do this is by assessing the software you use to run your business.

Generally speaking, finding an all-in-one software solution is usually the way to go. Having a unified system to manage all aspects of your business will always significantly increase efficiencies/productivity, save time and, ultimately, money.

Luckily, here at EZFacility, we offer exactly that! If you want to benchmark your existing systems to see how much time we can save you, then sign up for a free demo/trial and assess for yourself what EZFacility can do for your business! Streamline, grow, nurture, inspire – it’s EZ

devices

Train Employees Efficiently—Online

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If you run a sports facility, fitness center, or gym, you’ve probably embraced technology—these days, it’s impossible not to. You have your social media sites streamlined and constantly updated. You have your employees carrying around tablets for instant accessibility and communication. You have gym members uploading data from their personal fitness devices into your club management software. You might even have your fitness studios hooked up so members at home can stream classes. But have you thought about online training for your employees?
In this industry, training is crucial for some skills and types of knowledge. Think of pool management, for example. No matter what type of facility you run, if you’ve got a pool, your aquatics team needs to know, for starters, how to circulate and filtrate water, how to test for contamination and handle disinfection, and how to understand water chemistry concepts and calculations. Maybe you have the in-house resources—the time, the personnel—to pass this knowledge along.
If you don’t, signing your employees up for online training courses is the most efficient and effective way of getting them up to speed. Athletic Business runs a pool management course in partnership with the National Swimming Pool Foundation. Eight hours long, the interactive class promises to give your employees all the information they need to operate a pool expertly. The Aquatic Training Institute also offers a course, culminating in pool technician certification. Universities and MOOC (massive open online course) providers, such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity, are likely to offer free online pool management classes of their own.
In fact, universities and MOOC-providers are go-to web presences for all of your facility’s training and professional development needs. Personal trainers can find specific classes to address areas of knowledge they may be lacking, such as how to work with elderly or disabled populations, how to incorporate high-intensity training into existing workouts, and how to work with injured athletes. In this age of the Internet, almost any skill you or your employees need to develop can be learned cheaply and effectively online. You might have to invest some time into researching the options, but the investment will pay off in spades when you find yourself with a crew that knows what it’s doing (or knows how to find out what to do when it doesn’t know what it’s doing).
So how do you begin to incorporate online training? Whenever it makes sense, require new hires to educate themselves via courses you specify or allow them to choose from. This is an excellent way, in fact, to use inevitable downtime during the first couple weeks of employment, when new hires are learning the ropes. For existing employees, offer incentives. Give them a day off in exchange for completing a course, or throw a giant staff appreciation party—maybe even consider paying a small amount for each class an employee takes. It won’t be long before your staff realizes that, in addition to boosting your facility’s overall performance level, you’re offering them an opportunity for personal growth.

Gym community

Retaining Employees

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Some of the challenges fitness centers, gyms, and health clubs face are seasonal: getting members into the facility when the weather turns warm, dealing with the New-Year’s-resolution rush, running a member-recruitment campaign. But the challenge of holding on to valuable employees is perennial. After you’ve invested in a costly advertising and interviewing process, you spend a great number of resources training your staff and giving them time to acclimate. How do you then hold on to them for as long as possible?
Some club managers focus on keeping personal trainers happy. Gerard Oliver, General Manager of the Al Corniche Club Resort & Spa in Kuwait told IHRSA in a blog post that his facility keeps its fitness team incentivized by deemphasizing the revenues generated from personal training sessions. Without the pressure from the club to chase money by packing in as many sessions as possible, trainers are free to concentrate on the quality of their work. As Oliver says, “They have the desire and the time to education themselves, and interestingly enough, they have increased our revenues… They help members achieve the results they want and this helps with member retention, which is our top priority.”
For Aydin Buyukyilmaz, General Manager of Renewaclub in Turkey, the key strategy for successful employee retention is establishing a performance system that depends not on the budget of the club, but on the relative performance of the employees. Offering a competitive salary and a strong benefits package, while paying attention to market dynamics and making frequent adjustments accordingly, makes employees feel valued. But most of all, Buyukyilmaz says, the club works hard to create a sense of family among employees, which keeps them feeling connected and also benefits the club.
Lisa Welko, President of Ellipse Fitness in Appleton, Wisconsin, says the key is mentorship. “Build confidence in [employees’] abilities and allow them to grow within the organization,” she told the IHRSA blog. “We place special emphasis on training and continued development of everyone’s skills.” Fostering employees’ professional development increases their loyalty and keeps them motivated, Welko says.
One strategy might be to fire all these guns at once: Free your personal trainers from the pressure of increasing their number of sessions, focus on your employee compensation and performance packages, consciously create a sense of family among your staff, and emphasize mentorship and the development of specialized skills. Doing any one of these things takes time, money, effort, and a certain amount of vigilance; doing them all certainly will complicate a manager’s workload. But the potential payoff is huge: money saved, investments coming to fruition, and loyal expertise on staff. What more can a fitness facility ask for?
No doubt you have your own strategies for retaining your best employees. What are they? Share your best practices, and others will share theirs.

Reflect on Your Business Decisions

Consider Your Business Decisions

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If you own a health club or sports facility, you know that about 98 percent of the job consists of making decisions. In any aspect of life, decision-making can be challenging, but in the context of running a business, it can be especially nerve-wracking. The success of the business, your livelihood, the livelihood of others—all of these things depend on you making sound decisions (and, when we’re talking health clubs and sports facilities, the health and happiness of a lot of people also can depend on those decisions).
IHRSA’s blog recently ran an interesting piece featuring three health club owners and the business decisions they’re most proud of. Luke Carlson, CEO of Discover Strength in Plymouth, Minnesota, said that he’s proudest of his club’s decision to make the development and treatment of staff its highest priority. “Our increases in revenue always seem to be linked to our investment in our employees,” he says. “We started with only part-time employees. As soon as we created full-time, career track, salaried positions, our revenue dramatically increased…. When we gave our staff budgets for travel and continuing education, our revenue increased even more. Every time we make an effort to improve our staff and demonstrate that we care about them, they seem to be increasingly effective with our clients.”
Floriane Chatron, Founder of Aquaflorès in Paris, France, says she is proudest of launching an aqua-wellness facility in a difficult market with many low-cost competitors. “I am proud to have taken up this challenge, which, to most observers, seemed doomed to fail,” she says. And Jason Cerniglia, owner of Hoover Fitness in Hoover, Alabama, said he’s proudest of his decision to write an exercise and diet book. “First,” he noted, “I can help people anywhere and anytime, regardless of whether they are members or not. Second, instead of paying for a one-hour diet consult, people can buy the book and get the information they need. Third, it’s a great retention tool for my club because it helps members get results. Fourth, it can be a retention tool for other clubs. Most of all, the book can help deconditioned people, because it teaches how to get results and still enjoy life.”
While each of these decisions offers good ideas to other business owners (definitely prioritize your employees’ well being, don’t hesitate to launch something you believe in even if no one else seems to—and maybe it’s time to start thinking about writing a book!), the lesson here really is that, as a health club or sports facility owner, you can benefit from taking a moment to reflect on business decisions you have made. Which one are you most proud of? Why? Which one has been the least effective? Why? Jot down answers to these questions, and then take some time to analyze the processes you used while making your best decision and your worst one. Were other people involved or was it a solo choice? How did you conduct research before making the decision—or did you? Do your colleagues agree with your assessment of your best and worst decisions? Do they have ideas for how to continually make good ones? What have you learned from the decisions you’ve made?
The thing is, decision-making is tricky—enough that it’s its own field of study within cognitive science research. No one really understands how it works. The more familiar you are with your own decision-making processes, the more likely you are to have an immediate answer (or so many immediate answers that you might have trouble deciding which one to give) the next time someone asks you what business decision you’re most proud of.

Planning for Emergencies

Planning for Emergencies

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My son is eight years old, the age at which curiosity, acquired knowledge, and a total fascination with disaster scenarios come together beautifully and lead to all kinds of thought-provoking (and sometimes horrifying) what-if questions. What if the house blew up just as we were about to step inside of it? What if a tornado ripped through town unexpectedly while summer camp was in session? What if we went to watch a baseball game at Yankee Stadium and an earthquake happened in the first inning?
That last one gave me pause. What if an earthquake did happen during a baseball game? What if you run a sports facility or a recreation complex or, for that matter, a gym, health club, or fitness center and you’re faced with a major emergency? How do you prepare yourself? How do you even begin to think of something as massive, and as potentially devastating, as an earthquake?
Kevin Bryant, a senior facility manager for the Gordon Faber Recreation Complex in Hillsboro, Oregon (which boasts a 3,700-seat baseball stadium, a 7,200-seat football/soccer stadium, and six softball fields) addressed such questions in a recent article for Sports Venue Safety, a supplement to Athletic Business. Bryant has encountered a number of extraordinary situations at his facility: a drunk and belligerent spectator, drug-use by a semi-professional sports team in the locker room, lights going out during a stormy, night-time, high-school football game. None of these are on the scale of an earthquake, but they got him thinking about the importance of being ready should a major emergency occur.
In order to frame out a coherent emergency plan, including an evacuation strategy, Bryant and his team—full-time and part-time staff—engaged in a months-long effort. Starting with the simple plan they already had (and you no doubt have at least a simple one of your own), they called upon the expertise of police and fire first-responders, city staff, and school district personnel. They researched actual emergencies that had happened at other facilities, used virtual reality software, and good, old-fashioned brainstorming to imagine potential situations. At the end of the process, they produced a carefully crafted, solidly tested, emergency and evacuation plan.
Bryant offers some useful advice. The first step, he says, was getting practical training for all full-time staff so that, at the very least, everyone knows how to administer basic first-aid and everyone has some AED and CPR training. Whether you run a sports facility or a gym or health club, you’ve probably prepared key staff members for simple emergencies in similar ways. But it’s worth asking yourself whether you’ve trained enough staff and whether new employees need training. Do you have a plan for yearly refresher sessions?
After training, Bryant and his team made a list of the exact types of emergencies they might encounter at their facility and then researched preferred ways of dealing with those emergencies. They looked into bomb threats, critical operations shutdowns, fires in and outside the stadium, extreme weather situations (including, yes, earthquakes), medical emergencies, and even nuclear fallout. They outlined, among other things, what the immediate reaction to each type of emergency would be, who would be responsible for what, and how the city and first-responders would be involved. The take-away here is that different kinds of disasters require different kinds of responses. At your facility, you must have a specific plan for each kind, and all the players must be clear on their roles.
Once you’ve got your written plan, you need to start another round of training—this time stepping through the actual plan as if an emergency had occurred. Bryant’s staff went through a fire drill. On a day when there was no event, they pulled the fire-alarm, role-played responses, and then discussed how it all went. The exercise revealed the importance of communication in the midst of chaos, noise, and stress, and showed Bryant that, while a written plan is crucial, realistic training is the only way to get all players on board with how to manage an actual situation.
Another great thing about eight-year-olds is that they’re convinced they can overcome any disaster scenario they might have to face; when my son explains how he’s going to deal with the tornado-at-summer-camp, or any other similar situation, he always describes his own deeds of daring and his phenomenal, heroic triumphs. I love his confidence and optimism, but I always try to remind him that he has a good chance of succeeding as long as he has a carefully thought-through plan.

Healthcare

New Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Commission Seeks Collaborators

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By now, you’ve probably heard of the report recently released by the Vitality Institute, a New York-based organization made up of leaders in both the public and private sectors. Their main focus is to strengthen the evidence base of what works and what doesn’t in health promotion and disease prevention. The report, Investing in Prevention: A National Imperative, offers recommendations on these topics. A particular recommendation that has people talking is one that some may find controversial: Companies should report their employee health metrics just as they report their financial earnings.
Eighty percent of non-communicable diseases could be prevented, the report states. Preventing these diseases by 2023 could save the United States between $217 billion and $303 billion per year—about five percent to seven percent of annual healthcare spending. How do you prevent the diseases? By collecting data on individuals’ health profiles, identifying who might be at risk, and presumably then encouraging healthy habits.
Any time an individual’s private data is collected, it’s controversial. But the report seems to argue that health-related data isn’t merely private—the information that it contains could reveal ways to help strengthen society at some of its most fundamental levels. “The consequences of non-communicable diseases have short- and long-term effects by forcing individuals to exit the workforce prematurely due to their own poor health, or to care for ill relatives,” the report states. “Lower productivity and higher absenteeism, combined with soaring costs of treatment, impede innovation and crowd out productive investment in education and research and development.” In light of that, the Vitality Institute argues, it’s imperative that we know the state of health of America’s employees.
Why should you care about all this? The commission that put together the Vitality Institute’s report represents high-powered public- and private-sector organizations, such as Microsoft Corp., IBM, AARP, Humana, Johns Hopkins University, Qualcomm, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. These organizations have promised to carry out four initiatives meant to revolutionize the prevention of diseases and the promotion of health in the United States. To launch these initiatives, the commission is seeking collaborators — and what businesses are better positioned to collaborate than gyms, health clubs, fitness centers, and sports centers, which already work toward disease prevention and health promotion? Now is the time to get involved.
In addition to building a Corporate Health Leaders Program comprising evidence-based workplace health promotion training courses for small, medium, and large employers, the commission also plans to “convene a workshop on ethical, legal, and social issues with respect to the use of data collected by personal prevention technologies.” Another initiative aims to strengthen leadership and advocacy through networks. All in all, these are sweeping ideas that could have a huge impact on the future of fitness in this country. That’s where you come in. And here’s an interesting idea for you: What if your company were one of the first to voluntarily begin reporting employees’ health metrics? You’d sure get noticed.

Bringing Sales to the Next Level

Bringing Sales to the Next Level

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I have a friend who works in the sales department of an education publishing company. Recently, she won an award for having the highest monthly sales for six months running. She and her three colleagues all went through the same training, but she consistently outsells them by significant amounts (and she didn’t even have sales experience when she was hired). She told me that one of her colleagues asked her, “What is it about you? How do you do it?” My friend says she has no idea, but I do: It’s just who she is. She’s friendly to everyone and always upbeat. She really listens to people. She’s a great problem-solver. She never says no to anything. (Yes, I realize how lucky I am to have her as a friend.)

Wouldn’t it be great if she were working for your facility? Chances are, you already have some high-quality salespeople on staff. But how can you help them be even better? How can you take your sales staff from good to great?

1) Start with professional training for your sales leaders. This might seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re hiring experienced people and you’re confident about their ability to cinch a sale, the need for training could be overlooked. In fact, there’s a reason teachers, doctors, lawyers, and others have to fulfill a certain number of professional development hours each year. We all get rusty; especially in sales, when someone is making the same pitch over and over again, it’s easy to lose some of the vitality and charisma — that stuff my friend has—that is crucial to a successful transaction. Plus, the better trained your leaders are, the better trained your whole sales team will be: Solid skills and best practices trickle down. Ideally, you want to let your sales leaders choose their own training programs, ones that suit their personalities and styles.

2) Look for passion and interpersonal skills more than sales experience. Experience comes with time, but passion about fitness? An ease with people, a willingness to see each individual as unique and to truly listen to them, and the finesse required to help customers get their needs met? Those things are hard to fake.

3) If your sales numbers aren’t high enough and training isn’t producing the results you desire, you might have to ask yourself difficult questions. Do you have the right people on staff? Might you have to let a weaker employee go, or find a position that better suits his or her strengths? Do what you can to help naturally good salespeople get better, but know when it’s time to shake up the team.

4) Finally, focus on relationship-building. You want to think about this on a couple levels. First, what is your relationship to your sales team, both the leaders and the people who work under them? Do you have a personal connection to them? Do they know what your goals are and why those goals are important to you? Do they trust you? Second, what is your sales team’s relationship to prospects? Do they make an effort to connect personally? Do they listen to their needs and do whatever they can to fulfill them?

Keep in mind one more thing: Your facility and your staff are going to reflect you. As a manager or owner, you set the tone. If you (like my friend) are open and upbeat yourself, if you really listen to your employees and you tackle problems in creative ways, you’re likely to find that your sales staff (and, for that matter, other employees) do too.

The Right Hire For Your Gym

The Right Hire For Your Gym

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If you’re a fan of reality television, or even if you’re not, you have probably heard about the recent episode of Inside Job that featured New York’s David Barton Gym. Inside Job’s premise is that a company seeking to fill a position agrees to let the show’s producers select three candidates. Those candidates live together for a week and undertake challenges that supposedly reveal their worthiness for the job. A fourth person also lives in the house, someone already employed by the company who presents himself or herself as another candidate for the position. That person is the insider, reporting back to the CEO about the candidates and choosing one of them to recommend.
Well, that’s one way to hire an employee. For those of us who don’t have the opportunity to get to know job candidates quite so intimately before we hire them, we need other approaches. Since so many staff positions at a fitness center or sports facility involve direct interaction with members and clients, it’s crucial to hire carefully. Moreover, hiring is an expensive process; you want to get a good return on your investment.
What can you do to ensure you’re hiring well? To begin with, craft an excellent, clear, and precise job description. The more specific your description, and the more explicitly you define what you’re looking for, the better your chances of finding appropriate candidates. If you need a marketing person with social media experience, don’t just put, “Five years marketing experience”. It’s better to write, “Experienced marketing professional with social media expertise.” Also, be sure to stick in a few words that convey the sort of work ethic you’re looking for. If you want to scare off potential loafers, then change that wording to “Dedicated, experienced marketing professional with social media experience, a can-do attitude, and the willingness to stick it out when things get tough.”
Once you’ve collected your applications and narrowed the pool down to a handful of candidates, line up your interviews. Let me stress on the word “handful”: At this point, you don’t want to bring in too many people. Start with your top three or four choices; if you can’t find what you’re looking for among them, you can always call in others.
No doubt you’ve conducted interviews before, so you know the drill. Still, there’s one thing that’s easy to forget: Interviews are not effective if you’re focusing only on the science behind them — the questions you should and shouldn’t ask, how you read a résumé, what answers a candidate gives to your questions. More effective is to focus on the art of interviewing. This means paying attention to how a candidate answers your questions more than what they say. Did you get an answer — but not to the question you asked? Were there inconsistencies in the candidate’s replies? What was the candidate’s body language saying, what were the unconscious reactions and gestures? These will help you better understand who the person is (rather than just what he or she has done).
Once you make an offer, be prepared to negotiate. Any candidate worth hiring is probably going to come to you with a counter-offer. Remain open to the offer. Often, it reflects what the potential employee truly thinks he or she is worth. You might not be able to meet the counter-offer, but you might gain some clues about what alternative offers the candidate might be willing to accept. If you really want the person, you’ll have to find a way to make him or her happy.
Which brings me to my final point: Keep your employees happy. The gym and sports industries by nature face high turnover (how about a reality TV show that addresses that fact?). When you’ve invested the time, money, and energy to hire the right candidate, you want to do everything you can to make sure he or she stays. Create an open, warm workplace that makes relationship-building a priority. Recognize and reward good work. Consider perks such as tuition reimbursement, free lunches, and employee-of-the-month programs. The investment in human capital is worth it.