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Creating a welcoming culture from the moment a client steps foot through the doors of your club has the potential to be the difference between never seeing that person again or gaining a loyal member of 25 or 50 years — a notion Cory Hathaway, assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Athletic Club (LAAC), knows a thing or two about.
Hathaway said that the LAAC has members who have been around that long, and the club even honors them with a name-baring plaque at its entrance. Hathaway and his team have created a culture worth returning to in the eyes of several members, and it seems to start at the front door. The club rotates eight to 10 employees to fill front desk and greeter positions at the two entrances of the club.
Hathaway said that new hire candidates first interview with the operations director before making it to his office for a second interview, where he pays close attention to their personalities.
“Every person that we hire has to have a hospitality and friendliness-type energy, a people person dynamic,” Hathaway explained.
The general manager said that he looks for smiles on the faces of potential hires from the moment they come into the interview and added that he asks himself questions like, “Did they seem outgoing?” “Do they seem to be interested in interacting with people at a high frequency?” and, perhaps most importantly, “Does it seem like they avoid getting caught up in drama?” during the interview process.
Hathaway said that the lifespan of the club’s front desk and greeter team is also important to the organization, which has added extra support for greeters by having membership sales offices located directly behind the greeting area.
“We want a member to come to our club, and then five years later still be being greeted by the same person,” said Hathaway. “I feel like other clubs turn over the position so often that every 90 days it’s another person welcoming the members.”
Hathaway also explained that mirroring the vibe of every member is another essential component of his team’s game plan.
“If someone is very formal, maybe they’re dressed in a suit and tie, we try to greet them, ‘Hello, welcome to the club,’” he said. “Versus if there’s someone younger, more casual, just coming in to go to yoga, we’d say, ‘Hey how’s it going? Hope you have a good yoga class.’”
As meticulous as the LAAC is with their hiring tactics and the execution of front desk protocol, they are arguably as much so with the aesthetics of the club, which gets a lot of attention as well. “The club was founded in 1880, so we have a lot of historical pictures, trophies and other items of interest,” he said. “And we have a florist we work with that does some pretty cool flower arrangements and those get rotated out every week.”
Whether it’s how the front desk is operated, or the aesthetics, LAAC certainly goes the extra mile as soon as members step in the front door.