Train Your Staff to Be All-Stars

Independent health club owners will tell you that the most important part of their job is hiring the right people. Those hires are the ones who keep the club humming along while the owner is free to work on the bigger issues – even if those “bigger issues” include occasionally fixing a sewer backup, audio issues on the treadmills or even stocking a cooler.

But, while independent health club owners and managers spend time interviewing candidates for a variety of positions, they often forget -- or don’t really know -- what to do with them once they are hired.

Even Tom Brady Wouldn't Succeed Without A Good Playbook Don't Expect Your Employees To Make It On Their Own, EitherAs we pointed out in our April blog, Drafting a Championship Staff, it’s crucial your club gets the best talent to take care of members and run the day-to-day operations. However, without the proper coaching and playbook, even the greatest prospect will never be an all-star.

The Society for Human Resource Management and Aon Consulting did a study that discovered the top three reasons employees voluntarily leave a company. They are:

  • To advance their career with greater opportunities for training and career development
  • A better compensation and benefits package
  • Poor management

I know when I was running clubs, keeping a training staff was one of the biggest obstacles faced. We would bring on a person who seemed like a superstar, but for too long we relied on them shadowing someone or reading a checklist to get them trained. And sometimes that was enough. But more often than not, it led to a lot of minimal output and little movement up the ranks. In fact, in the two-plus years I managed one club, we only had two people move up to a management position — and a lot of turnover.

Was it their fault? No. It was mine and the ownership. We focused so hard on bringing in people that had a great resume, fit our corporate culture and could do the job, that we lost sight of the future these people wanted and were capable of attaining. Unlike the most successful teams (think the Patriots in the NFL), we didn’t have a playbook in place to help them grow and that was counterproductive.

Why didn’t we? Why don’t so many independent club owners? Well, it takes time and money to develop the systems to effectively train people to do their jobs. And, it takes even more time and money to take that employee and train them to be a future leader in your organization.

According to industry statistics, the cost of losing an employee can ranges from 50 to 150 percent of that employee's annual compensation when you consider lost productivity, time spent looking for a replacement and training of the new employee.

But, if you can develop your great hires into great employees –and even better great leaders – it will be worth every penny.

Three Keys to Developing All-Star Employees

  1. Develop an operations manual (playbook) for the entire facility.
  2. Develop a training protocol for every position - and include cross-training so every employee knows the responsibilities of others.
  3. Find the budget to keep your staff educated by sending them to continuing education classes and industry events (The upcoming iClubs Conference, for example.)

The cost of training and keeping good staff is far cheaper than finding new superstars.

John Agoglia has spent nearly two decades either working in health clubs or writing about them. He currently writes for several digital and print publications and provides marketing strategy and content services to companies in and out of the fitness industry.


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