A Trained, Energized Staff Is Imperative for Clubs

Who gets most of the training in your organization? Is it senior management, department heads or front-line staff? If your club is like most, senior management gets the most training. Recent studies in corporate America show that management receives more than 65 percent of the formal training offered at companies. However, what differentiates your club from the one down the street is often your front-line staff. Common sense tells us that when your employees are properly trained and coached, they can positively impact both the sales and retention at your club.

Summer, a traditionally slow time for clubs, is a great time to train new staff and energize your team to deliver superior service. Many owners who are looking for creative and effective ways to train their staff have instituted boot camps that are fun and help build team morale.

Good employee attitude and morale can give your club the edge to compete in your crowded marketplace. Southwest Airlines has grown its brand through its policy of hiring happy people. McDonald's has a successful training program for all its new entrepreneurs, even the ones who may be millionaires before they purchase a franchise. Disney has designed a delivery system that focuses on the employees, environment and processes that enhance quality service. What kind of training programs and employee orientation do you have in your company?

Training and development of all staff are important to the bottom line of any organization. Consider how many of your staff are terminated for reasons such as attitude problems, not being able to do the job or not fitting in with your club.

In this economy, no one can afford to let qualified workers walk out the door. Are you following or creating a program to help retain your employees? Are you looking at the long- and short-term objectives, employee and job needs, market trends and climate? Have you established standards of success? Successful club owners involve employees in the process of creating acceptable standards of operation as much as possible. This helps ensure buy-in.

Have you looked at all the resources that are available? Have you kept current on the latest information and trends? Have you decided who needs training? Have you scheduled appropriate trainers? Often, the best employee is not the best trainer. Trainers must be current on adult-learning principles and use them to help motivate participants to apply their learned skills.

Are you prioritizing the skill sets needed? Many owners may need to start with basic technical skills, ensuring that staff is competent in the job fundamentals. Likewise, interpersonal and integrative skills should be planned because of the constant change in the workplace. Strategic and operational planning is great for those leaders groomed for upward mobility.

On-the-job training is the mode of learning that seems to be most common in clubs, but is the staff getting guidance and positive reinforcement at the same time? Mentoring and job rotation are great measures to consider, providing good one-on-one or group interaction.

Perform follow-up assessment and training, too. When you train, you'll want to know how effective your processes are and what positive changes resulted. Regularly scheduled training is a must for companies interested in growing and pleasing customers.

Clubs are realizing that achieving customer satisfaction is essential to maintaining a competitive advantage, but winning customer loyalty and commitment is challenging. Isn't it time you invested in your team?

Ed Tock, founder of Eddie Tock Health Club Sales and Marketing Consulting, is a marketing and sales consultant who has worked with more than 850 clubs worldwide. He can be reached at eddie@eddietock.com.

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