On Amazon.com, you can buy a costume for Flo… you know, that chick from the Progressive Insurance commercials everyone knows and loves? This extremely friendly, helpful , and enthusiastic sales clerk currently has over 2.5 million fans on Facebook and could easily be called an American TV icon. Sure, you’ll find a ton of blogs of guys with “Flo Fever” or people who just find her downright cute, but perhaps what we love most about Flo is how her zaniness represents something that exists deep inside every one of us when we’ve had a really long day at work. Sometimes you get worn out, but, at your best, you become ramped up with vigor that comes out of nowhere. You become extra boisterous to help time pass by faster. You seek out extra jobs to make the day fly right by. For fitness center owners, the Flo-s of this world are like gold.
Customer Service is the #1 thing that differentiates fitness centers and retains new clients. It seems idiotic that one would ever think of running a business without customer service, but you’d be surprised how many gyms and workout centers just straight up suck. You may be sickened at the thought of people coming down with Staph Infection from the machines at your gym, but it happens elsewhere! You may have never entertained the possibility that your front desk clerk would read a book and ignore patrons when they arrive or have a question to ask, but it happens elsewhere! You may never contemplate hiring a guy whose last Twitter post was “I hate the world” or a girl whose Facebook profile says “I can be your best friend or the biggest bitch,” but these people are working in fitness centers all across America! It’s up to you to create “corporate culture” that fosters pleasantries and top performers.
Consider this: At online shoe retailer Zappos.com, CEO Tony Hseih offers new employees $1,000 to quit after their first week. While this may sound crazy, the company knows they’ll spend much more money in recruiting, hiring, training and wasted productivity should this person quit down the road. They figure it’s better to get rid of people right away who are not fully committed to the company vision.
“We give every new hire 90 days probation,” Norm Brodsky, founder of CitiStorage in New York City, explains to inc.com. “I hire for attitude not for aptitude; we can train for the skills we need them to have. Education is the key to sustainability of your culture while you are growing.”
Sure, you will need to hire other trainers that have the right credentials, but if you ultimately want your enterprise to be successful, you need to hire people you enjoy working with day-in and day-out. Chances are, if you like working with this person, their clients will too. When you find the right core team, you can become a mentor in them to put your own brand on the business. You can also organize team events to build a better sense of unity and friendship in your center. It’s this sort of climate that builds empires.