BONUS APRIL FEATURE: E-training your staff

Today's technology offers clubs another way to train their employees: e-learning.

Beyond the initial investment (e.g., extra computers, software and networking), e-learning carries a minimal fee. In fact, it can eventually lower your training cost. This is because employees can do e-learning in-house; you don't have to pay for them to travel and take new courses. In addition, you don’t have staff gone for days at a time. E-learning makes it possible to keep your staff up and running by slipping in training during slower times.

One club that is having a great deal of success with e-learning is WOW! Work Out World in New Jersey. WOW!'s five New Jersey clubs are all linked together by a WAN (wide area network). In December, after WOW! got a T1 Internet connection, the club chain installed an additional four computers with Internet connectivity at each of its five locations. Why? Because Stephen Roma, chief executive WOW!zer of WOW!, had a vision. He wanted to use the technology to enable an e-learning system with the ability to 1.) deliver consistent/same information to all employees 2.) test staff (also known as WOW!zers) 3.) provide a reward system for the WOW!zers who achieving certain levels of proficiency.

So far, the system is working like a charm. "We have empowered our WOW!zers with e-mail accounts and Internet connectivity...and [subscribed to a service] which provides educational content for our personal training staff, which they can access at WOW!, at their home...anywhere, anytime," emphasizes Roma. "And we are now researching other e-content for every job function that exists within WOW!, such as front desk, childcare, facility maintenance, sales group fitness, etc."

Roma is also looking into various testing/scoring engines that will allow WOW! to rank WOW!zers according to proficiency level. The idea is that the WOW!zers will wear badges with different color backgrounds. As they advance to another level their badge color will change. "Let me ask you, 'How long would you want to be wearing a white [level one] badge?'" proposes Roma. "We are also considering tying in pay raises for certain departments."

This is just a sample of what clubs can do when they tap the potential of the Internet! If it sounds like a huge endeavor, it's really not. It is, however, a commitment to your employees and club that will benefit your bottom line in the long run.

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