How Your Health Club Can Become One of America’s Best Small Companies

Nick Sarillo Nick's Pizza Pub
Nick Sarillo founded Nick's Pizza & Pub, which was recently named to Forbes' Best Small Companies list. He will keynote at this year's Club Industry Show and will share what you need to do to make your health club one of the best.

Editors' Note: This blog is a guest column from Nick Sarillo, founder of Nick's Pizza & Pub and author  of “A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business.” Sarillo will be one of the keynote speakers at the Club Industry Show Oct. 4-6 at the Hilton Chicago. Register for the show to hear more from Sarillo.

Choosing greatness over growth is what building America’s best small companies is all about. My company, Nick's Pizza & Pub, received recognition by Forbes as one of America’s Best Small Companies. What prompted its inclusion? Our culture driven by purpose and values. 

The dictionary defines culture as the sum of attitudes, customs and beliefs that distinguish one group of people from another, which means culture will be defined as the behaviors of people in a group in any snapshot of time. My team and I at Nick’s Pizza & Pub make the conscious choice every day to put people first.

Each of you have the same opportunity to clearly define who you are and who your health club is. Choosing to invest time, money and energy into building culture is a wise investment. As Peter Drucker stated so well, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Creating a purpose- and value-led culture inspires everyone on the team to propel the business forward each and every day.


Purpose is an organization’s "why." Why every business exists, why it serves or creates the product it does and why certain decisions are made every day. Purpose rallies teams around a common goal, to be part of something bigger. For Nick’s Pizza & Pub, our purpose is The Nick’s Experience: Our dedicated family provides this community an unforgettable place to connect with your family and friends, to have fun and to feel at home.

There is nothing in our purpose about hot food, pizza, customer service or quality, all key components necessary to run a successful restaurant. Our purpose is bigger than those key components. When we place our energy behind creating an experience for each guest that is unforgettable, the key components of hot food and fresh quality ingredients are a result.  

Think of your health club. What are you and your team passionate about every day? What sets you apart from other health clubs? Purpose has the capability of being each of our competitive advantages and creates a meaningful place to work. It is why a customer or guest will choose to spend money with our business over the one down the street.


Values are an organization’s "how." How each person behaves and how decisions are made on a daily basis. Most effectively, clearly defined values are action-based, thus becoming an action standard for behaviors. The downside to one-word values, such as teamwork, is that they lack the call to action and accountability. One-word values are more conceptual and sometimes might mean different things to different people. Being explicit about the action associated with the value is crucial. For example, one of our core values is “Our team works through support and cooperation.”

Look to which important principles you and our team use in daily decision making. Those are the beginning to what the business holds as core values. Start the conversation about which values are being used in daily interactions with each other, with your members and in everyday life outside of work. What are the similarities between all of you? The most sustainable set of core values will come from a collaboration of what is important to each person on the whole team, top to bottom.

Purpose and values are the foundation to a strong culture, a culture where people enjoy coming to work and are fulfilled every day. These are the cultures that make positive change in the world and achieve better results, thus receiving recognition from the media, such as Forbes magazine. What type of culture do you want to build in your organization? 


Read more on:

Suggested Articles:

Whether or not your fitness facility has been allowed to reopen, you are aware that in the age of COVID-19, the design of your facility will change.

Health club owners should be prepared to respond quickly, decisively and strategically if their business becomes a target for a COVID-19-related class

You can help to show the public and government officials that fitness facilities are taking steps to ensure COVID-19 is not being spread in gyms.