The Wisconsin Athletic Club (WAC) is committed to providing the highest quality of service to its members — and that starts with staff as early as the onboarding process, according to COO Chez Misko.
Misko urged other health clubs to implement an organized system for onboarding new staff members, saying he’s noticed a lot of facilities feel they should just hire freely. “For us, we have a whole new hiring process that includes extensive training, and essentially a checklist of all the things they have to do and complete in order to be correctly onboarded,” he said.
The WAC’s system begins in-house, where Misko said all employees are encouraged to be active in recruiting at all times. “We’re always actively recruiting, because we know our success is based on our ability to hire the best people,” he said. “Referrals from someone who understands what we’re about is the best way to find somebody, versus someone coming in with an application that you don’t know.”
As an extra incentive for employees, if someone they refer is hired to the WAC team, Misko said the referring team member receives a gift.
After getting hired, all of the staff goes through a philosophy training, called Club 101, where all owners and members of the key leadership team for the company are present.
Misko acknowledged a larger organization might struggle to execute a similar tactic, but at seven clubs and around 1,200 employees, it’s doable for the WAC. “We could do that in a way much easier than having all of us there, but we really want to show them the importance of our staff-centric model,” he said. “So us being there and conveying the message ourselves is really important for us.”
Misko said Club 101 covers the club’s history, philosophy and forthcoming goals so new employees understand from a big-picture standpoint what working for WAC is all about. “It’s really geared around our philosophy and how they impact that and influence the member experience,” he added.
Misko also said the WAC puts a lot of emphasis on making sure new employees know what they’re doing, and why, before they’re left alone. He said making sure your newest team member is comfortable is essential.
“Onboarding and training and development is not a one-time deal,” said Misko. “It’s got to be an ongoing process.”