A club can never be described as too clean. Erik Gonzalez, the regional club facilities manager at The Sports Club Company, said they are essentially cleaning their clubs 24 hours a day between their housekeeping staff and nightly processes to ensure all areas are disinfected and cleaned.
The cleaning of clubs has evolved into a specific and systematic process said Dustin Petrie, the regional general manager of Club H Fitness. At Club H, each area of the club has specific “points” that need to be cleaned and checked off during each shift. “By using ‘points’ effectively we are able to clean each area of the club to the highest standard in a controlled systematic way,” he said. “The point system is basically a list, in order of how to and what to clean. For example, in the ‘living room’ area of our gym points start at the top of the room, light fixtures, air vents, ceiling, moving down the walls, windows, glass doors, to dust boards and eventually the floor. Each of those would be a point.”
Extensive knowledge of each area in the club, like physical structure and equipment placement, as well as manufacturer recommendations for regular cleaning and maintenance, is important to know before coming up with a cleaning schedule, explained Meredith DePersia, the director of club operations for Club One. Their clubs are cleaned based on operational standards (defined by Club One in conjunction with health code requirements) and shift cleaning checklists to ensure expectations are met and tasks are completed as needed.
The club’s standards for cleanliness should be made clear to the entire staff. “Who cleans what and when cannot be left for the team to decide. Expectations must be established based on shift, not on person,” DePersia said. “The housekeeping team must have daily, weekly and monthly shift cleaning schedules and checklists.”
Club H breaks down cleaning shifts into weekly, daily and hourly goals. Staff are assigned to specific areas of the club and given exact directions.
At The Sports Club Company just about every item in the club is cleaned daily. “We have an inspection report that is completed three times a day,” Gonzalez said. “Depending on the club, this inspection takes anywhere from one-and-a-half hours to three hours in our larger clubs. The inspection report covers walls, mirrors, corners, outlet plates, flooring, ceiling, lights, vents etc. Various department walk-throughs and the results are communicated to the department and appropriate team member in order to ensure the club is up to standard.”
The Cleaning Crew
“I have learned over the years that the people a manager should really know are the maintenance staff and to thank them,” Petrie said. “These are the people who do the laundry, maintain the broilers, the air conditioners and clean our clubs — without them we wouldn’t be the spotless clubs we are.” Club H uses an in-house cleaning team and finds that by bettering the personal lives of their employees, a sense of pride is reflected in their job and ultimately the final outcome in the workplace. Their employee promise recognizes employees as the most important resource in creating their service environment.
DePersia said there are added benefits to using an in-house team like flexibility in payroll management as well as the ability to manage directly instead of going through a middle man to maintain complete control.
The Sports Club Company employs both an in-house crew and an overnight janitorial staff to assist with their efforts. “We do an initial week of training when they first start and then we have continuous training with our team. We are big on giving out continuous team feedback, coaching and training to ensure that they are performing to the highest level,” Gonzalez said.
Meeting Member’s Expectations
Meeting members’ expectations is vital to running a successful club. Club H’s overarching principle is, “Every member feels cared for,” Petrie said. Anticipating members’ needs falls under that principle. A lot of Club H’s staff training is based off the The Ritz Carlton’s “The New Gold Standard” leadership principles for creating extraordinary customer service. “This is extremely important with the maintenance staff as they are integral to the success of a health club,” he said. “By constantly evaluating ourselves and our employees, we continue to elevate our level of service into an amazing brand experience generating highly inspired, engaged and empowered employees who receive unparalleled excellence in service which equate to exceeding our member expectations.”
“A daily walk-through and reviews of shift checklists by department managers and the general manager ensure the compliance of the club team members. Cleanliness and equipment upkeep responsibilities must be shared by the entire team,” DePersia said.
Your members can do their part to help keep the club clean. Having equipment cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer in the fitness and childcare areas encourage members to participate in keeping the facility clean. Educating your members on the spread of germs and disease will help motivate them to take the necessary precautions.
To combat the spread of germs, Paul LeBlanc the owner of Zogics, who makes sanitizing products for gyms, suggest a three pronged approach: offer pre-moistened wipes for members to use on equipment, have hand sanitizer readily available and have staff members apply a disinfectant to all surfaces daily.
“Lead by example,” LeBlanc suggested. “When members see staff wiping down equipment, picking up weights, and keeping things tidy, they’re more likely to follow suit and lend a hand.”
Don’t forget about commonly overlooked areas either. “I love to spot check the light fixtures 20 feet up in the ceiling to make sure they have been dusted,” Petrie said. “People look up when doing cardio and will see dust on the lamps. Making sure the smallest corners are cleaned out in locker rooms makes a huge difference to our members.”
Focus should be given to areas that members continually encounter, like scales, cup holders, doorknobs, inside of lockers, etc. DePersia said small areas that crack or build up grime can make an otherwise pristine club feel dirty to a member.
“The key is to train your staff to look at the club through ‘member eyes,’” she said. DePersia suggested walk-through training with the team, taking them through each area of the club and showing them what members see that they might be missing. “Every time they do a walk-through they need to look from floor to ceiling to ensure that no area goes unchecked. I guarantee that if your staff is not doing this, your members are, and they may not like what they see.” -CS
By Ali Cicerchi