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It’s a known fact that people are adverse to change — and that includes your members. As a club operator, I’m sure you can recall many times when you changed a small or large detail at the gym, only to field dozens of member complaints soon after.
The Atlantic Club in Manasquan, New Jersey, also deals with change. But there is one constant: Every day throughout the work week, Carlos Vargas will be in the men’s locker room starting at 4:30 a.m., with the goal of serving the members.
“Carlos never misses work,” said Kevin McHugh, the COO of The Atlantic Club. “He is a very dedicated and hard worker. Carlos takes great pride in his job. He is always there and in action.”
Here, Vargas shares how and why he provides such great service.
Title: Housekeeper/Men’s Locker Room Specialist
Club: The Atlantic Club-Manasquan
Years of Service: 24 years
CS: What is the favorite aspect of your job? What do you love most?
CV: What I love most about my job is being around great members and always being in motion. I know that I make a positive difference in their day. That is an important part of my job. [The Atlantic Club] is like my home and family.
CS: What was your “aha” moment that made you realize you loved this job?
CV: My “aha moment” was when I heard the members talking about how much they appreciated my efforts in English, which they did not think I understood. Although my English is limited — I did get the main points of what they were discussing. Also, The Atlantic Club’s owner, Pat Laus, knows me and my family very well, as does Kevin McHugh, the club’s COO, and all the managers and staff. I am respected and always am greeted with sincere hellos and best wishes.
CS: How does The Atlantic Club make you feel valued as an employee?
CV: They have allowed me to take off two months every year to be with my family in Mexico during the holidays. Also, so many provide me and my family with presents before I leave that make my wife and children in Mexico feel very special.
CS: What’s the best gift from a member you’ve ever received?
CV: There is no one gift that stands out — it is the generous cards and gifts that the members give to me for my family during the holidays. I cry every time I leave the club the last day before going back for my two months in Mexico. The members and staff really care about me. They always say, “Carlos, you are coming back, right?” And I always say, “Yes!” The most important gift to me when I leave for my trip is that I know the members and staff really mean it. That is the best gift of all.
CS: Where do you get your work ethic? How do you keep a positive attitude?
CV: I started working when I was nine many, many hours per week and learned the importance of never standing around like others, but always being in action or motion. Members and management know that I am always busy and it allows me to do the best job I can possibly do every day. This creates my positive attitude and I always smile.
CS: What’s the most challenging aspect of your job, and how do you strive to overcome that challenge?
CV: We probably all have the same struggles when you work in a locker room area. It is the busy times like 8 to 9 a.m. when the lockers are filled with members, all sinks are being used for shaving and towels are being used at very high levels — and my job is to make sure that everyone feels like I am taking care of them personally. That is when always being in motion is important, because they know that you are trying your best to make it a great experience for them, even though it happens to be a very busy time for this area.
CS: What best practice tips can you share that would be beneficial to professionals in a similar role at other clubs?
CV: I guess it is simple: Don’t give up, catch up and never stop moving!
CS: What’s one of the best ideas you’ve ever had that improved the member or customer experience?
CV: I always ask as many members as possible in my less-than-perfect English, “Hello do you need anything?” It is actually funny when a member will say to me, “How can I help you, Carlos?”
CS: What’s your funniest member story?
CV: When a member gave me a heavy leather coat for my Mexico trip. Of course, I thanked him very much and needed to leave it home since the weather in Mexico at that time was about 100 degrees.
Know a Front-Line All Star at your gym? Nominate them to be featured here.