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Focus on Sales/Marketing

Maximize Your Training Materials

One of the most economical methods of training your staff is through the use of in-club training materials. Training materials include books, tapes, manuals, as well as information from the Internet, and can be found (excluding the Internet) in bookstores, catalogs, business magazines, industry publications, etc. If you utilize these as sources, you will generally find good material - although it may not be industry-specific.

We are very fortunate in our industry as we have several very strong sources for industry-specific training ma-terials. Yes, it is wise to broaden our scope when looking for new training methods and study how other industries train staff for success, and, at the same time, it is extremely beneficial to have tools that are customized for our business. Using a mix of the two will keep you on top of your game.

There are extensive benefits in using training materials:

1. Training materials complement a club's training system.
2. They can be used as the foundation for a club's training system.
3. The materials are documentation; it's easy to refer to documentation to ensure consistency in training.
4. Materials can be reviewed, refreshing people's memory.
5. They provide cost-effective training.

To maximize your use of training materials, consider the following tips:

1. Establish your goals for staff training (e.g. what is the desired outcome?). Inform your staff of the goals as well as the plan.
2. Establish a time frame for the goal to be accomplished. There should be a sense of urgency with this, yet manageable. For example, if you purchase books or manuals that are broken down by chapters, the staff should be able to cover a chapter per week as long as the chapters are 30 pages or fewer. If the product is produced in "tip" form, assign a specific number of tips that are relevant to your goal to be read by the specified date.
3. Use your weekly management, sales or departmental meetings as a forum for discussion or practice of the training materials. These meetings are a terrific resource for staff training. My recommendation is that in each of your weekly meetings (yes, we should all have a formal weekly meeting), a half hour is set aside to focus on training only. Your staff will genuinely appreciate the education, and the club will reap the benefits of stronger, more consistent performance.
4. Develop a measurement system to determine the success of the materials in attaining the goal.
5. Develop a point system for employees that provides an extrinsic reward for professional/personal development done on their own that is relevant to the club. The point system can be tied to bonus dollars, prizes, etc. The extrinsic reward is a kick start for employees who have not yet experienced the intrinsic reward of development. Once they have, the extrinsic system is usually unnecessary.

Professional, well-trained staff is one of your biggest power tools in building stronger market share. Consistent staff development is the key. As we start this new year and this new century, the time is perfect to make the commitment to invest in your club and/or yourself for both professional and personal growth.

- Karen D. Woodard, president of Premium Performance Training, specializes in sales, service and management training for the health and fitness industry. She is an international author, speaker and consultant who has owned and operated clubs since 1985. She can be contacted at (303) 417-0653.

Better Business

We asked readers to list all of the reasons why strong business management skills are critical to the success of their clubs. Here's how they responded.

71.3% Generating profits is more complex, so stronger management skills are required.

69.3% Growth opportunities require the proper planning and management.

53.7% More facilities compete with us today.

49.7% Marketing to prospects needs to be more sophisticated.

49.2% Tighter margins make gaining efficiencies even more important.

40.8% Member fees are leveling off or declining, so we must generate new members.

33.0% Other facilities are competing with greater intensity.

23.4% We must compete with the exercise-at-home market.

Source: Club Industry Magazine's 1999 Survey of Buying Power

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