Problems are Just a Chance to Grow
Some business owners see setbacks as personal failure, while others see them as challenges that can be resolved or conquered and a necessary part of the learning process. If you can develop this mindset, you will almost instantly look at your club business with a totally new and fresh approach, and with the knowledge that every gym has problems and that each new day is a day to tackle challenges and work on solutions. It is actually strength to acknowledge and seek out weaknesses or flaws in your business. The more you do this, the easier it gets, until you start to see this practice as a necessary activity to keep things on the right track, not as a destructive criticism of yourself or others.
The same dynamics that drive successful personal relationships also drive successful businesses. Do you look for areas in which you can change and make improvements? Are you open to these changes? Do you take responsibility for your mistakes? Do you make an effort to change them? Are you honest when evaluating what your problems are?
Preventive Medicine, not Corrective Surgery
When problems come up in your club, you hopefully react quickly to correct them, but the fact that some gym owners, or managers are constantly reacting in the first place may be the bigger issue. Examples abound of fitness clubs that never got back on track after troubles arose and perpetuated that could have easily been prevented in the first place. Many fitness clubs and businesses in general spend so much time reacting or responding to preventable problems that come up during day to day operations, that they have become experts at damage control, but not experts at avoiding, or minimizing damage. Operating in damage control much of the time, saps time and energy needed to strategize and grow your business. The end result could either be stagnation, getting stuck in “survival mode”, or worse, the business obituaries. The solution is to be pro-active instead of reactive, so that you can nip potential “business breakers” or “profit eroders” in the bud.
A Health Scan – for your Health Club
A way to reduce, or prevent club problems dramatically is to conduct regular “scans”, or mini audits of specific areas, that look for and find problems, before they become too problematic. On the surface things can appear to be operating fine, until we look a little deeper and find an entirely different reality. When regular scans or check-ups are not done, owners and their management team can become too removed from those things that are important to the functional health of club business.
Once a problem is found, fixing it can often be as simple as determining the cause so that the right solution can be applied. Some scans, can take as little 15-30 minutes to complete, while others may take significantly longer to get a clear picture of what is going on.
To start, simply categorize the main areas of your business such as Sales, Marketing, Human Resources, etc., then make a list of all the sub categories of each area that you can think of, that are directly, or indirectly relevant to their success. Some sub categories for Sales for example, could be The Membership Sales Process, Daily Productivity of Membership Personnel and Adherence to Sales Systems and Procedures. Each of these sub categories should have their own check list of protocols, procedures, or actions needed to function efficiently. For Membership Sales Process, for example, simply list the various parts of the sales process, from A-Z, so that your management team can shadow sales staff to ensure all steps are being completed and followed properly. Some sales personnel give great tours but are weak at getting a commitment to join. Others are great at getting the sale, but have too many cancellations because they rush the process. A Marketing sub category should include Lead Tracking to follow the prospect through the appointment booking, show, sale process. Human Resources should have sub categories of Performance Review and New Employee Job Readiness, to ensure you are setting recruits up for success from the get go.
A scan could also be something as simple as having regular staff meetings to review and determine that all is well in certain areas. If it is a procedure or protocol you are scanning, then it will be very easy to determine if these things are being followed -and being followed correctly.
Adherence to Systems and Procedures is absolutely paramount, as every successful business has detailed processes and procedures and protocols which are simply stepping stones to an expected and needed end result. These processes are what make your business tick and need to be checked on regularly for compliance.
When your check lists are complete for each sub category, you now have a written usable club audit to check on the “health” of your club, in part, or in whole, to be used when needed. Now it is just a matter of determining who will be conducting these check ups and which should be done, daily, weekly, or monthly. Ensure that you meet with those responsible, to review their findings -and that what they tell you, is easily quantifiable to ensure accuracy and integrity.
Knowing is irrelevant Without Doing
Many of the clubs I visit are either lacking in procedures and procedures, or have them, but do very little auditing until a problem becomes readily apparent. By then of course, the damage has been done. If at the end of the month you see your sales are 20% down, then through investigation you find that certain sales processes are not being followed, referrals are not being called, telephone inquiries for membership information are not showing up for their appointments, or the required effort is just not being put in, most of the time, these issues caught early enough, would have saved your month. Of course what is worse than doing an inspection too late, is rarely or ever doing them, so problems continue month after month.
At the beginning, regulating these preventative measures will require some discipline to ensure that business in general doesn’t distract you or management from doing checks, but being consistent will save you countless hours of “fixing” down the road. The majority of problems that clubs face are not insurmountable and just need to be identified and quickly dealt with.