Feeling Unorganized? Say Goodbye to Sales


One last thought about organization. Some have it, others don't. In our industry, it's crucial to balance flexibility (and I'm not just talking about in your yoga classes) with some semblance of structure. If you don't, your members and staff will know it faster than you can say “membership retention.”

For example, a health club I visited recently was unsure about how much to invest in its group exercise program since class participation was dwindling. Fearful about losing the aerobic class diehards, the club owners decided to keep classes on the schedule, yet they considerably decreased instructor training funds, equipment and the number of classes. Also, they cut their full-time group fitness director to part-time.

Class counts continued to drop. So, the club tried new promotions — holiday workouts, new class formats and new instructors. Not much worked. Staff meetings were haphazard at best with only half of the instructors attending. Instructors came and left so quickly that the front desk staff couldn't tell them from the members.

The club owners were being flexible by adjusting to new trends and trying new ideas, but they didn't really have a plan. As most good business people know, you must have a plan. Unsure what to do with group exercise? Either invest in it and make it great, or shut it down. Somewhere in between leads to low morale for your instructors and members who may not feel they have enough class options.

Lack of organization also comes into play in day-to-day tasks. When I arrived recently at an appointment at another facility, I was told the membership director was running late. After skimming an entire gossip magazine from over a year ago, I was told he wasn't coming at all. I received no explanation, just that he wasn't coming. After a few minutes of the front desk employees nudging each other and whispering, “You do it,” they pushed a shy-looking teenager in front of me. To protect his identity (and self esteem), we'll call him Joe. Joe quietly told me that he would be giving me the tour. Noticing that he wasn't comfortable, I asked him how long he had been on staff. “About three hours,” Joe said. This poor kid. Him showing me around the club was like the blind leading the blind. He didn't know much more than I did after sitting in the club's lobby for a half an hour.

So, my tour guide ended up stating the obvious at every turn, perhaps discovering things about the club himself as we walked along.

“Up here is the smoothie bar.” (Good thing the sign above it says Smoothie Bar or he never would have figured out that one.)

“Here on the left is the cardio equipment.” (I always wondered what those treadmills and ellipticals were called.)

“Over that way are the free weights.” (Ah, big heavy things you lift, I see.)

How would this kid know enough about the club in three hours to sell it? In fact, Joe barely had the training to clock in correctly (he mentioned that on the way to the group exercise room to make me laugh since it was obvious how poorly the tour was going).

This club's lack of organization gave me a bad impression as a first-time visitor. I left the club wondering if the membership director was the only person qualified to give a tour of the facility. How difficult would it be to train other staff members to give a tour in case he was out (he does take a lunch break or go on vacations at times, doesn't he?) There's no way I would have signed a contract with this club. If the tour was this unorganized, imagine how scheduling a time with a personal trainer or putting in a maintenance request might go. Ditto for the first club — I wouldn't teach group exercise for management that couldn't make up its mind about its group exercise program.

Your facility's level of organization says a lot to your employees and members (or potential clients) about your facility and their ability to successfully reach their goals. A back-and-forth interest in group exercise or a tour by a Joe-like employee could say something to them that you'll soon regret.

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