Pizza Guy Nick Sarillo Shares How Your Health Club's Culture Can Translate to Higher Performance

Nick Sarillo, Nick's Pizza & Pub
(Photo by Bryan Beasley.) Nick Sarillo, founder of Nick's PIzza and Pub, spoke to more than 200 people in the Oct. 5 keynote at the 2017 Club Industry Show, sharing insights on how to build a culture that helps improve employee and business performance.

Getting better performance from your staff may depend on creating the right culture at your health club, according to Nick Sarillo, founder of Nick's Pizza and Pub, Chicago. Sarillo's business was on Forbes' 2017 list of Best Small Companies

During his Oct. 5 keynote address, "Building a Culture of Trust, One Slice at a Time," at the Club Industry Show at the Hilton Chicago, Sarillo shared his thoughts about how to build a business's culture.

Culture includes three parts: purpose and values, training and coaching, and trust and tracking. He started with purpose, noting that a company's purpose should be stated in the present tense rather than the future tense because your purpose is something you are currently doing.

To determine your purpose, fill in the blanks for some or all of the following:

  • We have…
  • We provide…
  • We honor…
  • We celebrate…

"Purpose differentiates us," Sarillo said. 

When a business's purpose is clearly understood by employees, it can help them resolve issues, he said.

"When there is an issue, instead of giving [employees] the answer, walk them through the purpose and values and have them get to their answers," Sarillo said.

The company's purpose needs to be reinforced with proper training and coaching, Sarillo said. That training includes ensuring staff is engaged.

"Ninety-seven percent of people at work want to be engaged, but only 13 percent feel engaged," Sarillo said.

He offered another statistic to prove that his approach creates employment longevity: 75 percent of his team is under 25 years old, but he has a 25 percent turnover rate.

One way Sarillo gets high performance and longevity from his staff members is to create a feedback loop in which he asks workers what they did well that day.

"Instead of focusing on the negative, refocus them on the positive," he said. "It helps change their mindset."

He offered an example of one new employee who walked with his head down, seeming to lack confidence, but after several days of being asked what he did well that day, the young man changed from his initial instinct to focus on the negative and instead focused on the positive. Along with his change in his response came a more confident gait that even his family noticed, Sarillo said.

Sarillo shared more on how to hire the right employees and train them properly in a session, "Secretes to Hiring and Training for High Service and Performance," after his keynote. That session, which was co-presented with Adrian Antigua, regional manager at Gainesville Health & Fitness, shared some additional insights that Sarillo has put into action in his Nick's University business, which offers culture and leadership training both on-site and online for businesses in any industry.

After the session, Sarillo signed copies of his book, "A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business."

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