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Checklists 101

Just having checklists isn't enough. The following tips can help you make the most out of your facility's use of operational and aesthetic checklists.

You observe an employee walking through your facility. He has a professional look about him, is neatly dressed in uniform, clipboard in one hand, a pen in the other. Then he puts pen to paper ... check, check, check ... without ever looking up. You wonder, is this how your facility checklist is being implemented? When created and implemented properly, checklists can be effective tools to manage facility operations and aesthetics. Each component of your facility has focus areas that need regular check-ups. To maintain everything from your front desk to your locker rooms and laundry rooms, you need a plan. Tending to the daily details will help manage the cost of issues that build up over time, and will have a positive effect with your members. There are several keys to checklist success.

Design

Checklists should be clean and simple. They can be created in a simple word processing or spreadsheet program. Always make copies from the original. A copy of a copy of a copy looks dirty and worn. That's not the image of your quality-assurance tool that you want. Your goal should be to create a tool that a new employee in any position can pick up and use to provide a quick assessment of any area of your facility. The checklist should be complete but not complex, focusing on the appearance of your facility, as well as key operational attributes (lights out, leaky faucets, etc.). Each item on the checklist should be specific, with a brief description of what would be considered satisfactory and unsatisfactory conditions. Deciding what goes on your checklist and what stays off is one of your first challenges. Focus on controllable items. These items may have an immediate effect on a member's experience (sauna needs to be reset), finances (having to replace shower curtains due to the build-up of soap scum/mold) or back-office housekeeping items (making sure locker keys get filed properly).

Frequency

You always want your facility to be in top condition for your members. The frequency of your checklist walk-throughs should reflect that. If your goal is for every facility user to have the best possible experience when they visit, the checklist should be used prior to each peak usage time, and at least once during those hours.
Deciding what goes on our checklist and what stays off is one of your first challenges.
Opening and closing checklists (or events that only take place once per day) are a variation of the facility checklist. These would focus on everything that needs to get done to open and close the facility. The opening and closing checklist should be in hand as the appropriate staff person works through it. Remember to keep these lists complete and simple.

Follow-up

You may already have facility checklists in place. But, how effective are they? Are your staff members just putting marks on a page, or are they really looking at each item on the list? If an item does not get a passing mark, what is being done about it? Follow-up is the final key to implementing a successful checklist program. Ideally, the employee who is working through the checklist will be empowered to resolve any unsatisfactory items on the spot. If not, that person should know the proper channels to take. Regular checklist reports can highlight focus areas for your facility, as well as training topics for your employees. On the reports, look for items that are commonly in need of correction. From there, you can determine if there is a bigger facility issue that needs to be addressed, or staff training that needs to occur. Checklists can be a powerful tool if created, implemented and used properly. If you create comprehensive, clear lists, you and your members will be able to see an immediate change for the better in your facility.
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