Differentiate Your Health Club with the Human Factor Contribution

Differentiate Your Health Club with the Human Factor Contribution

To differentiate your fitness facility today, you must have more than quality programming. You need a business culture based on the human factor contribution (HFC). What is HFC? It is what your people can do that’s different if they really focus on delivering at their full capacity. HFC is a special combination of managerial beliefs, practices and tools that focus on building a healthy organizational culture that drives performance, efficiency, effectiveness and morale.

More than 100 industry leaders met at the REX All Roundtable Conference in March prior to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) conference to hear from experts both inside and outside our industry about their successes using HFC.

Nick Sarillo, founder and CEO of Nick’s Pizza & Pub, which has two locations in the Chicago area, shared how his company maintains less than 25 percent annual turnover of its 200 team members in an industry where 150 percent turnover is the norm. The company’s team retention efforts get at the core of how to identify motivated team members. Sarillo has built a purpose- and values-driven, high-performance organization. The employees learn, grow and then are compensated as they enter the company’s rigorous training program, which includes a three-day course on communication and leadership.

Cliff Buchholz, owner of four Miramont Lifestyle Fitness clubs in Fort Collins, CO, attended a workshop at Nick’s and worked with Sarillo’s mentor, Rudy Miick, to transform his culture, learn strategic budgeting, drop close to $1 million out of costs in a few months, refocus the whole business and engage everyone in it.

Joe Cirulli’s Gainesville (FL) Health and Fitness Center clubs have received worldwide recognition inside and outside our industry. Cirulli’s success is driven by his values as they inform his organization’s culture. During the last 18 months, he worked with Derek Barton, formerly senior vice president of marketing at Gold’s Gym, to refine and empower his company’s culture. Cirulli and Barton shared how a properly branded culture can set your company above the rest.

These experts relayed that business owners can drive growth, profit and competitive distinctiveness through organizational health. HFC is part of creating that health, but it may lead to clashes with the owner’s view of proper management. It requires owners and managers to face their own anxieties and blind spots in order to create a work environment that releases, drives and focuses the heart and energy of his or her employees.

HFC focuses on values and how they can shape culture. HFC requires a clarity of purpose and direction that suffuses the business. HFC incorporates the power of open book management.

In a competitive marketplace, HFC can become a powerful advantage that is not easily copied because your people are not easily copied.

Why are human factors important? Your business success depends on your organization being smart and healthy. Patrick Lencioni, a keynote speaker at IHRSA 2011, says being smart means you are knowledgeable about marketing, sales, numbers, personnel and operations, and it means you make good decisions in these areas. This is the traditional business school curriculum—hard-nosed, practical and focused on results.

A healthy organization has a meaningful and transformative culture. To achieve that, you must first assemble a cohesive leadership team that will build trust, eliminate politics and increase efficiency. Next, you must create clarity about why the organization exists, which values are fundamental, what the organization will achieve and who is responsible for what.

As the leader, your next step is to overcommunicate organizational clarity by repeatedly delivering key messages simply. The more complicated the message, the more potential for confusion and inconsistency. That organizational clarity should be reinforced through human systems—in other words, by ensuring consistency in hiring, managing performance and rewards and recognition.


Ed Tock, a club sales and marketing consultant, also is a partner in REX Roundtables, where more than 100 club owners share and develop best practices. Tock can be reached at 845-736-0307.

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