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Attitude Beats Aptitude for Fitness Industry Jobs

While hiring the right person for any job is crucial, it couldn't be more important for the fitness-services business for the obvious reason: Our industry is all about service.

I'm fortunate to have a dedicated and hard-working editorial staff that has been with this magazine for many years. So, it's been quite some time since I've had to go through the steps of hiring and training someone. And, that's a good thing. Because I remember that it was never an easy process, and I certainly didn't always make the right choices.

While hiring the right person for any job is crucial, it couldn't be more important for the fitness-services business for the obvious reason: Our industry is all about service. Unfortunately, our industry's reputation sucks for service. So, it must be that either 1) some pretty poor hiring choices are being made, or 2) there is a management strategy that has just plain gone wrong. Either the wrong message is being sent to employees about how to conduct themselves, or the message is being misinterpreted.

It's estimated that it costs a company $30,000 when the wrong person is hired. So, having a clear outline of what you're looking for when hiring someone would be the operative agenda. According to Ed Tock, partner in Sales-Makers, a consulting firm specializing in marketing and membership sales, the key ingredients to look for in fitness facility staff are self-motivation, enthusiasm, and the ability to listen and learn. This couldn't be more true. I've hired a great number of people over the years, and I've learned that while a certain degree of skill is a necessity, even more important is the individual's personality. So, as Tock says, only 20 percent of the reason you hire someone should be because of their skill; the other 80 percent should be because of their attitude.

A staff member with a great attitude and good listening and learning abilities is certain to be an outstanding employee - as long as your service philosophy and attitude as a manager extends downward. Teach them well, and they will serve well.

Teach them to be empathetic toward members. Empathy will come naturally if they understand the customer. For instance, for staff to really connect with members, they need to know why members buy fitness facility memberships. Tock says that the top reasons are personal attention, information, quality of service, program diversity, emotional satisfaction and support. They want fitness center staff to show genuine concern. So, set goals and priorities for your staff, such as making motivational calls weekly and monthly to members, creating email newsletters that provide members with health tips, and hosting member appreciation days or parties.

It's all about building exceptional relationships. Relationships create an environment of reciprocal respect, and with that comes satisfaction for both members and staff. And it all starts with great attitudes and skillsets that are massaged into highly talented, effective and dedicated employees.

Our editorial staff has 37 years of combined experience in the fitness-business industry. I have no problem bragging about this, and I'm satisfied in knowing that we're the right people who were hired for the job. Can you say that about your staff? If you can, you can bet that your members know it, too!

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