The competition between Boston Chicken (now Boston Market) and Chick-fil-A heated up in the 1990s.
In a famous Chick-fil-A leadership meeting, executives discussed a variety of strategies to grow bigger and faster to overtake the market. Truett Cathy, founder and former CEO of Chick-fil-A, sat back quietly and listened to the entire team build their case to grow bigger to reach the billion dollar mark by 2000.
Then all of a sudden, Cathy pounded his fist on the table. As the room grew quiet, he said, "If we get better, our customers will demand we get bigger." Truett went on to say that their job wasn't to create more products and open more stores but rather to sell more products so well that more people wanted it.
Consequently, in 2000, Boston Market filed for bankruptcy and Chick-fil-A hit a billion dollars in sales for the first time by focusing simply on getting better.
Isn't this what the fitness industry is all about—helping people create a better quality of life?
Our focus should be to take such great care of our community that it inspires them to invite their friends to come and experience our facilities.
However, as leaders, we face an ever-present fear of getting bigger, faster. That's short-term thinking. We have to begin looking at the bigger picture, just like Chick-fil-A, and how we can simply become better within our current stage of business and for the community that is already investing in our services.
This isn't a top-down leadership practice either. It starts with your front-line trainers, desk staff, sales team and other teammates. You are the role model.
The Team Gets Better First
In your next team meeting, print out the following questions and allow everyone five minutes to write down their answers.
- What does getting better look like for our facility?
- Where can we get better at serving our current community of clients?
- How can we take one step this week to improve greeting clients at the door?
- What can our team do this month to "wow" our clients every session?
- Where have we lost touch with making things better within our facility?
Next, spend 30 minutes openly discussing their answers. Then, as the leader, create an action plan to make the top three suggestions your team's mission for the next 30 days.
There is a lot of room for us to improve in how we serve our communities. Sometimes all it takes is simple steps, such as:
- Remain surgically clean (even behind the heavy dumbbells and under the treadmills).
- Hand write notes (not computer-generated) to clients to personally thank them for their trust.
- Walk your clients to their car with an umbrella when it’s raining (or drive them home if they walked over).
- Make it like Norm walking into Cheers when a client enters your facility.
Don’t mistake simple for non-impactful. It’s often the small gestures that keep clients coming back throughout the years.
What do you think? Share your thoughts about getting better to get bigger in the comment section below.