Health and Fitness Club Staff Management

Tara Massouleh

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April 13, 2021

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minute read

PUblished

April 13, 2021

The health and fitness industry is, at its heart, a business about people.

As a health club owner, your greatest concern is the satisfaction of your members, and one of the biggest determinants of their experience at your club is their relationship with your staff.

Often, a fitness club’s best asset is its staff members. They create personal connections with your members, encourage them to keep working toward their goals, and provide members with the support and guidance they need to become—and stay—fully engaged in your club.

On average, every two interactions between a member and an employee in a given month results in an extra visit from the member the following month. Having a top-notch team can be the difference between contributing to the disappointing statistic that 50% of new members quit within 6 months of joining and adding a lifelong advocate to your member base.

Your staff are ambassadors for your club. They represent who you are as a fitness business, what you stand for, and how you deliver value to the communities you serve. When you can’t speak or act on behalf of your fitness club, you need to trust your staff to fill in the gaps.

As the gym, health, and fitness club industry continues to grow, so will the need for employees of all types, from personal trainers and group exercise instructors to customer service representatives and front desk staff. According to IBIS World, the industry has seen a 1.2% employment growth over the past 5 years, and that percentage is expected to increase.

Having an excellent team is inextricably tied to your club’s overall success. So how can you ensure you’re setting yourself up for success with an award-winning staff? The first step is realizing that creating a top-notch team doesn’t happen overnight. The second step is acknowledging that unlocking staff potential starts with you. In the following sections, we’ll break down everything you need to know in order to recruit and retain the best staff. We’ll even give some specific tips for effectively managing the most common types of staff members who make up the fabric of your club community.


Are you making smart hires?

Creating a rockstar team starts with hiring the best talent. Whether you’re looking to add a swim instructor, sales manager, or facility manager to your team, your goal is to find not only a good fit, but the best fit for your company culture. To make the most of your hiring process and attract the best talent, consider the following steps.

1. Be prepared.

Before you set out to hire a new team member, it’s important that you’re prepared to put your best foot forward. Just as you’re evaluating several potential employees, those same candidates are evaluating several potential employers.

Set your club apart from (and above) the rest by providing clear directives that explain exactly the role you’re hiring for, as well as the duties that role will be expected to carry out. By taking time to put together a thoughtful job description, you’ll attract more qualified talent.

2. Match your values.

Hiring a new team member is akin to adding a new member to your family or close group of friends. Before hiring new employees, reflect on your club’s main values and missions. Then, think about the character traits that uphold those values.

For example, if one of your core values is to provide an exceptional member experience, hiring personable and outgoing staff members who can easily keep your members engaged should be a priority.

3. Encourage referrals.

Sometimes hiring a new team member can feel a little like finding a needle in a haystack. One of the easiest ways to narrow your focus is to look to your existing staff for help. They already possess all the characteristics, skills, and proficiencies you want in your team, and they probably have friends and acquaintances who do as well.

To jumpstart the process, try implementing a referral program that rewards team members for successfully recommending others for new jobs.  

4. Prioritize diversity.

While you want your staff’s core values to align, there’s immense value in having a diverse group of employees with differing experiences and backgrounds. As fitness club member bases diversify, having staff members who reflect them in terms of gender, age, race, ethnicity, etc. is essential.

And while it may take extra effort to attract diverse candidates, it’s an important initiative to prioritize as we move toward more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces and communities.  


Is your onboarding and training comprehensive?

As new members join your team, their first few weeks are crucial in setting them up for years of successful employment. Allocate ample time for new hires to learn all the ins and outs of your club, as well as the essential role they play in keeping it running smoothly. Investing time and resources for proper training will pay off in the long term.  

Begin onboarding with generalized information about your fitness club and company culture. Give background on how your club got started, what your core mission is, and your overarching strategy for helping members transform their lives. Make sure staff members know how to answer the most common member questions, so they’ll feel confident walking your floor and interacting with members, regardless of their title or department.

Once you’ve covered the basics, delve into the practical by giving an exhaustive overview of how to use your gym management software, point-of-sale system, and other necessary tools. Recognize that while you’ll provide as much information as you can on the outset, it may take new hires a bit of practice before they’re completely comfortable using your systems and implementing your processes. Keep them on-track and encouraged with regular check-ins and additional training sessions.

The last step of the onboarding process is to train staff on the specific job they were hired to do. For this step, it’s important to get your existing staff involved. As the boots on the ground getting things done on a day-to-day basis, they’ll provide great insight into the nitty gritty of task flow. Also, remember that education is an ongoing process. As your club evolves and grows, you’ll need to continuously train staff on new efficiencies, protocol, or strategies that will improve your facility.

Create a comprehensive staff training guide to provide structure for new hires and ensure they have the best possible start to their new job.

Are you prioritizing retention?

Attracting the best talent means nothing if you can’t keep it. According to the Bureau of National Affairs, employee turnover costs companies around $11 billion each year. The financial savings of retaining staff versus hiring new team members is obvious, but there are other equally important benefits.

For example, retaining staff members means more meaningful member-staff relationships can remain intact and increase overall member loyalty. In addition, high turnover rate can lead to a drop in team morale and create a snowball effect of unhappy team members.    

One of the quickest ways to lose employees is to create a culture of complacency. You hired your team because they’re passionate about the health and fitness industry and eager to advance their careers. If they feel like they’re stuck at your club, it’s extremely likely that they move on to a new opportunity.

To combat this, here are several ways to show your employees that you value their expertise, appreciate their effort, and are invested in seeing them succeed.

1. Practice career pathing.

It doesn’t matter what role a team member was hired for, chances are they don’t intend to work in that position until retirement. If you want to retain your best employees, you have to create an enticing future at your club.

Create a career path that gives them vision for where they might be at your club in 5 years or more if they stay the course. When working with employees to create career paths, take time to listen to their goals and adjust their plan accordingly.

Maybe they work in child care but really want to get into sales. Remember that not all movement is linear, and your employees may have talents yet to be discovered in their current roles.

2. Invest in professional development.

Another way to show employees that you’re invested in their future is to offer professional development opportunities. Help team members identify strengths and weaknesses in their work and develop a plan to turn their weaknesses into strengths.

Try bringing in other industry professionals for regular learning sessions or talks. You can provide a continuing education stipend for things like online management classes or pay for a portion of industry certifications.

No matter what you choose to do, as long as your team is learning and growing, your club is winning.  

3. Offer incentives.

Bolster employee engagement with an incentive program that encourages team members to go above and beyond. Chances are good many of your employees have a competitive edge.

By offering an incentive program, you’ll not only promote a spirit of friendly competition, but you’ll also show them that you recognized hard work and are ready to reward it.

4. Recognize accomplishments.

On a similar note, promoting a culture of support and encouragement among your staff is crucial to keeping them bought into your club. Recognizing accomplishments can come in many forms.

Maybe you award an employee of the week at weekly staff meetings, or you send a thoughtful note to a team member who’s doing an especially good job. If bonus allotment isn’t in the budget, consider using your club as an incentive.

A voucher for a free meal in your café or massage treatment in your spa can go a long way in making team members feel appreciated.


Do you have a healthy work culture?

You want your club to feel like a second home to everyone who steps through your doors. That means putting in the work to create the best possible experience for members, and it also means treating your staff like family.

Getting your entire team to be excited for work each day admittedly isn’t the easiest of tasks, but with a healthy work culture, you can get that much closer. So, how do you build and nurture a healthy work culture? It’s similar to keeping your body healthy; it takes a strong foundation and continued maintenance.  

Building a strong foundation means creating a clear vision for your company culture from the outset, even before you hire your first staff member. Start by writing down every goal you have for your company culture. Next, narrow your list down into three easily digestible rules for how your staff operates.

Keep them broad and simple enough that they can become a rallying cry for your future team. When you’re onboarding new team members, make part of their training to learn the rules of your company culture. Being intentional about broadcasting your culture at the beginning makes it easier for staff to adopt it early on as they settle into their new role.

Once you’ve solidified a strong foundation, it’s your job to build upon it. When it comes to employee management, you want to foster a culture of openness and inclusivity. Make your employees feel like they’re part of a united team, all working toward one mission. But more importantly, make them feel like they’re each an indispensable part of that team.

Publicize an open-door policy where team members, regardless of their title or position, feel comfortable sharing suggestions or concerns with upper management. Be open to hearing their ideas, but don’t just listen to them—learn from them. Just as your employees have room to learn and grow, so do you. If your staff is invested in your club’s success, they’ll undoubtedly have suggestions to improve your operations.

And these are suggestions you want to hear. A maintenance team member might notice that you need to replace your gym towels well before your scheduled quality control check. A group exercise instructor might have an idea for a new class type that members have shown interest in. Making the space for staff to speak and be heard ultimately serves you and your club just as much as it serves your staff.

The final puzzle piece in creating a healthy team culture is to promote camaraderie among your staff members. Staff members who develop strong bonds with their peers are more likely to report job satisfaction.

They’re also more likely to stay at your club. While you can’t force your team members to be friends, you can create an environment where it’s easier for them to bond. Plan staff-wide events that encourage fellowship, like happy hours, trips to see a local sports team play, or even a weekend retreat. A tight-knit team works better together and leads to more success for your club.


Is your management organized?

Disorganization leads to distrust which leads to dissatisfaction among your staff. Of course, part or running a health club means offering a million fitness and wellness options to your members and having a million things to manage as a result. Having the right health club management software can be a game changer when it comes to managing your staff, keeping their trust, and keeping them happy.

With a comprehensive club management platform like Club Automation, capabilities abound and give you 360-degree coverage into every aspect of your business. When selecting a club management software, you’re not only selecting a solution that works for you, you’re also selecting one that works for every member of your staff.

It’s important to think through the daily functions of each of your team members and find a solution that serves each of them. If you can serve each of them with one tool, all the better.

Club Automation’s management solution starts with a powerful member management system that contains use cases for every member-oriented position on your team. Front desk software makes it easy for your front desk staff to check members in and keep up with their daily updates. Member profiles give administrators a look into each club member’s status and offers a seamless way to update information. Custom communication lists help sales and marketing staff target specific member groups for upsells.

For group exercise instructors and personal trainers, Club Automation’s advanced scheduling system keeps all their classes in one place, so they can easily see when their next class is and send automated reminders to class participants. With attendance tracking, they can easily mark class attendance directly from a tablet as members arrive.  

The right club management solution can also help you stay organized on pay day, which is something all your staff members will appreciate. With staff payroll functionality, you can generate payroll for your salaried and hourly employees and ensure that everyone is paid on time, every time.  

Customer Service Management

Now that we’ve covered the basics of health club staff management, we’ll delve a bit deeper and offer specific takeaways for each role type that makes up your club’s team. Customer service is a major pillar for any successful fitness club, and it’s unique in its ubiquity.

Nearly every member on your club staff interacts with members, from your front desk staff to personal trainers and class instructors. That’s why it’s absolutely essential to provide proper customer service training for every member of your staff.  

The overarching rule for every customer service or customer service-adjacent position is to put your members first. Seek their opinions and suggestions on how to improve your club, and then make every effort possible to meet their needs. Making every decision with the question, “How does this benefit our member?” in mind provides a North Star leading your club toward success.


Sales Team Management

Your sales team holds the keys to your club’s growth. Without your sales team securing new members for your club, stagnancy and eventual decline are inevitable. However, sales can be a delicate art.

You want your sales team to be convincing enough to get prospects to join your club, but tactful enough to prevent being labelled “annoying” or “pushy”. With the right strategies, you can help your team strike the perfect balance.

One of the best ways to achieve that balance is to teach a custom and consultative sales approach. Encourage staff members to get to know prospects and determine the reasons they’re considering joining your club. Do they want community? Are they looking for a way to jumpstart a January fitness resolution? Are they looking for a place that provides child care, while they work out?

Once they’ve completed the consultative portion of the sales process, they can focus on creating a custom approach that’s sure to convert. In short, you want your staff to sell the outcomes your club can drive for potential members, not just the services you provide.


Personal Training and Group Exercise Instructor Management

Your group exercise leaders, program instructors, and personal trainers make up a huge portion of your club staff.

Though most of these team members are part time, and some may come in to teach just one class a week, it’s just as important to indoctrinate them to your club culture. We all know members harbor a lot of loyalty for their favorite class instructors and trainers. As such, keeping a consistent group of trainers and instructors on staff has a direct effect on member retention.

When it comes to retaining personal trainers and group exercise instructors, communication is key. Because trainers and instructors typically spend less time in your facility than most full-time staff members, you have less opportunity for organic face-to-face time.

That’s why it’s important to double-down on communication in whatever form works for you. Schedule a weekly meeting to discuss their successes and setbacks for the week. Then, offer chances for continued education or professional development to take their careers to the next level.

Conclusion

Your staff is the heart and soul of your club and the fuel that keeps you moving forward. The central role they play in providing an unrivaled experience for your club members cannot be overstated, so it’s of the utmost importance that you hire and retain the best team members. Creating a strong company culture and earning a reputation for being a great place to work is an ongoing process, but our guide is a good place to start.  

Managing your club staff is a big job. Let Club Automation’s comprehensive club management platform help.

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A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

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A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

  • Just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection
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