What's In Your Garage?
Advances in Training Can Keep your Club Systems From Becoming a Real Mess
By: Mike Kincaid
Remember in college when we learned about entropy and chaos theories. By universal law, without intervention, "order" will break down to "disorder". In nature, glass shatters into hundreds of random pieces; you never see hundreds of random pieces suddenly coming together to form a perfect glass. Entropy also affects business systems, without indefatigable commitment to keep them in place, systems break down and clubs easily fall into chaos. Mike draws his own parallels and shares his ideas on how to keep it all together.
t was an exceptionally warm day for the time of year
and one of those days when you want to do something around the house that says "I accomplished something today!".
I went to the garage and there it was, the little mess I wanted to clean up. It wasn't bad, just a little cluttered and unorganized. There's a Stairmaster 4000OPT that is the beginning of a small mini gym I want to develop for supplemental training. But like so many other people, I had stuff around it and on it so that I couldn't get to it.
So I decided that my project today was going to be the "Garage". It couldn't take that long, my wife had just cleaned it out a while back. (It seemed)
The reason I like doing projects like cleaning the garage is that while your doing it, your free to think of all kinds of other things. So I'm working around the garage and I keep thinking about the clubs I've consulted with now and in the past and how could I help them understand certain elements of the business better. How could I get them to see what I see, to set their priorities, as I perceive them?
" You cannot solve your problems with the same level of thinking you had when you created them."
As I completed the cleaning it hit me, the garage and the fitness center business have a lot in common. As I stood there looking at my clean, organized garage I knew it was going to end up cluttered, unorganized and dirty again. Even though I vowed I was going to keep it organized this time. I had been through this so many times that I asked myself why I couldn't keep it tidy on a daily basis this time?
I can't because I don't see it getting cluttered. It happens so slowly, over many days, perhaps weeks that by the time you notice that it might be time to pick a few things up it's already to late. You first look around and it's a small mess, but you're busy at the moment so you decide to put it off till next week. "Next week" ends up being two months and the next time you look you hardly have room to walk around in it and you have just the one car in a two-car garage.
Club Systems Are Like Garages
The same thing happens to your club's systems, policies and procedures. You finally get your policies and procedures manual written. You implement a few systems for sales, marketing and retention. You even have several staff meetings, getting everyone acquainted and excited about being organized... and then you get busy with daily business as usual.
Then, over time you have a few staff changes and maybe one key person, you stay busy keeping everything going, but then you notice a little slippage on the procedures and that the systems you had in place are not being used the way you originally intended. The new people coming in make a few unwelcome changes to your systems from bad habits derived from their previous jobs.
You make a note to cover that in your next meeting in a week or two. At the next meeting one key person doesn't show so you decide to postpone part of what you were going to do at this meeting and do it next time. You have a couple more of staff changes and a few other projects require some attention. Projects that are more exciting and give you instant gratification and
before you know it your policies, procedures and systems are suffering the same fate as your garage. They are not as effective as you had planned and now you have to start over again with the staff you have now which has a different dynamic than the original staff.
Whenever there's a staff changes in a facility there's a countervailing change in the subtle dynamics of the organization. The policies and procedures and your system now become more important then ever. They need to be adhered to the letter. They must now be indelible, else the staff dynamic will rewrite your policies and systems for you and soon you'll not recognize your own program.
The solution to this challenge is a commitment to weekly staff training and educational programs. Weekly training should be in your staff's job description, it must be mandatory, and you have to pay them to attend, so get it in your budget.
There are two challenges facing the manager or owner when considering an educational program such as this:
1. Apathy, you have trained so many sales and front desk people only to have them quit that you're tired of it and the delivery of your training isn't as consistent as it needs to be.
2. Time, you're already working a ton of hours, how can you possibly add another responsibility to your day?
One solution to this dilemma is to utilize technology and outside professionals to help you deliver the education that the staff needs.
Using technology to deliver the basics of staff training will insure consistency in your training program. Earl Nightingale said," Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal." If your goal is profit from your business, the absolute key to success is:
Long term maximum profit results from the
consistent application of an efficient and
effective management system over a sustained period of time.
Using CD Rom, Video tapes, training manuals, audio cassettes, website training on demand and onsite instructional seminars that deliver the same consistent instructions while using the same terminology will insure that the service delivery is also consistent.
The owner/manager can then spend their time fine-tuning the employees' individual skills. Using technology allows the owner/manager to leverage their time far better.
One goal of an effective managers is to teach others how to teach. When a person studies a topic with the knowledge that they are going to teach it, their understanding of that topic moves up to another level.
Using technology helps to deliver consistent application. Teaching your teachers then delegating parts of the teaching responsibility is efficient use of time. Utilizing an outside professional increases effectiveness and executing this strategy for as long as you own the club will allow you to reach your maximum potential.
Albert Einstein said, " You cannot solve your problems with the same level of thinking you had when you created them." Consider where your business is and where you want it to be then start cleaning out the garage!
About the Author
Mike Kincaid is a senior level consultant with Club Marketing & Management Services. Serving the industry since 1981, CMS specializes in Health, Tennis and Athletic Clubs.
Mike has owned his club for nineteen years. He is also a 7th degree blackbelt and has owned Kincaid's Karate for 20 years.
Visit Mike's websites at:
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