If you own a fitness business you know that trainers tend to come and go. Gyms cycle through trainers like body builders cycle through steroids. When trainers leave they may go to another gym or open their own and bring “your” clients with them. It does not have to be this way.
The number one reason trainers leave your facility is because they are not happy. If they are semi happy when they leave I promise they will not go stealing your clients or open up as competition. Lets take a look at a few systems you can implement to ensure happiness and keep an amazing staff.
1) Eliminate stress
A stressful, high paced, cut throat environment is the opposite of being happy. Quality of work matters, your not paying them enough to deal with a stressful work environment. You might be thinking “yeah yeah they are not stressed, their job is easy.” How do you know? You may have to suck up some pride, and actually ask them. Create a survey (free on survey monkey) to have your employees fill out at the end of each month (yes each month). You just email a simple three question 10 second multiple choice survey so they can evaluate your work as an owner. Yup you need checking up on too.
(As seen in The Zappos Experience)
1- definitely 2- sometimes 3- not at all.
1) I genuinely believe this company has a higher purpose beyond profits
2) I feel my role in this company has a real purpose, it is not just a job
3) I feel as if I am in control of my career path and I am progressing in my personal and professional development
4) I am happy with my job
5) I consider my co-workers to be like family and friends
Feel free to use these or tweak them to your liking. Although, it is really not about what you ask it is about actually asking. Along with sending this survey out once a month you can have a separate facebook page, website forum, or meeting set up to get employee feedback on the gym. I have found a private facebook page to be the best. It is free easy and people tend to speak more openly behind their computer. This creates another form of bonding between trainers and trainer to owner.
One last thing on surveys, send out anonymous ones to be completed by the members of the gym. Make them specify a coach then give them simple multiple choice questions about their coaching/training style and what they can improve on. Make this information available to your coach/trainer. Not only will it improve their work at your facility it will give them something to work towards. Examples:
1) If you owned a gym would you hire Tim to be a trainer?
2) Do you attend Tim’s class because you have to or you want to?
3) Would you encourage your friends to come into Tim’s class?
2) Sense of ownership
This step should not be overlooked. They need to have something that is theirs. They can make their own rules and be rewarded for growing and developing it. Every trainer usually has a specialty. Find out what it is and ask if they want to develop their own specialty class. If they like to write, get them doing weekly blog posts for the gym. If they like facebook put them in charge of the facebook page. Get creative and give them a sense of ownership in the business. If they grow and develop this part of the business compensate them for a job well done.
This also gives them an opportunity to advance. This is an extremely important aspect to incorporate in any job. Teachers are on a pay scale that goes up each year, realtors get more money for selling more houses, you get more money for each member. If a trainer gets $20 an hour no matter how many people are in class they will hit a ceiling. It starts out great, but eventually they will hit a point where they need more and deserve more. If you are willing to provide the opportunity they will appreciate it.
3) Reward recognition program
Do you reward employees who have the most sign ups for the month? How about the best client feedback or most random compliments? You should have recognition programs in place that give employees more then just a pat on the back. From cash to gift cards keep them happy and motivated to grow and develop in your facility. Come up with a simple set of criteria right now that will be rewarded.
Sign up 5 people- get a $20 dollar bill/$10 gift card/new water bottle
Get 5 positive surveys- get a t-shirt/lunch/drink
How about a reward recognition program for trainers to trainers? Give each person a $40 allowance and every 6 months they must gift the $40 to another employee for a specific favor or act of kindness. “I have 10 trainers that is $800 bucks a year.” The price or prize is not set in stone adjust accordingly. “Well, what if they just give it to their friends.” This might happen, but the point is they now have a bonus to give to whoever they want. They will take ownership of that and will greatly appreciate you giving them the opportunity.
4) Developing a Connection
At Zappos (an online retail company that is consistently voted one of the best places to work!) PEACE is something they are constantly implementing, it stands for Programs, Events, Actives, Charity and Engagement. It is a staple for employee happiness. “We simply focus on employees needs. For the most part that occurs through incentives, employee programs, internal communications and organizing employe efforts to give back to the surrounding community.” These are all extremely important. Lets think about the last one, “give back to the surrounding community.” Imagine the connection your trainers would develop with your gym if you spent money time and effort fundraising for community events every few months. If you let the trainers pick the charities they will feel even more emotionally involved.
Think about the workplace in a fun context. Are you trying to develop happiness for your employees? What drives happiness for them money, time, sense of commitment, involvement ownership? Ask them and think outside the box.
Examples of fun:
Field trips to other gyms
Lunch on you
Going to a sporting event
Playing a game in the gym
In CrossFit gyms around the world their is an amazing community that is developed in each one. It is a direct result of suffering through those intense workouts together. How about a trainer only workout on or off site. Possibly a prize for the winner, lunch for all or $10 to show up and give it your all. The possibilities are endless, but do not underestimate the importance of going through a few great workouts as a group
Develop a solid relationship, create a happy fun work environment, and use the tools and systems above to ensure your fitness facility does not have a high turnover rate.
Once all the above systems are in place you should invest in your trainers education. Help them advance by paying or half of a certification. Or hiring a guru to come into the gym for a trainers only specialty course. I realize the argument here: what if they leave right after I invest in them? If you believe in them they will be more incline to believe in you. If an employer becomes more of a friend it is harder to screw them over in the end. Or just ask them. I am willing to invest in another cert for you do you see yourself here for another year? Below are a few examples that are less of a monetary commitment.
Pay for a cert
Pay for 50% of a cert
Get a specialist to come in for one hour
Coach them yourself for one hour
Buy them books or instructional DVD’s
Set up a library for them full of the best fitness books
Leave a comment and let me know if you try an of these strategies