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Even Managers Need an MOD from Time to Time


Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if your position as a manager in the fitness industry were a 9 to 5 job? Imagine the simplicity if all staff arrived at the club together every morning and left together each night, and all of your members came only during these “business hours.” But, the reality is that clubs are open seven days a week and 16, 20, maybe even 24 hours a day. During the comparatively small number of those hours that you are in the building, your day is redirected often by the needs of your members who have come to expect exceptional service by someone who can immediately address their needs. Therefore, if you are needed this much when you are here, it begs the question: “Who cares for these people when you’re not here?”

If you are an organization that celebrates exceptional customer service then you will not consider treating members differently because they work out during times that are less convenient to your schedule. Therefore, you must have a system in place to deliver upon that promise to every member, even during off hours such as early mornings, late evenings or weekends. The role of the Manager on Duty (MOD) has become standard in today’s retail and service industries to allow consistent service delivery without diminution due to the time or the day. The MOD is the person in charge of the building and its operations at any given time and, while they do not supersede other managers, they can work in their stead. The MOD schedule can easily be made by utilizing your current managers with staggered times of coverage throughout the week and, while the actual person manning the role of MOD may change, the MOD, by position, is to be available at every minute of the day to immediately address member or staff needs. The MOD should also be considered the person in charge during your emergency response protocols so it is never dependent upon the specific staff that may or may not be in the building. By implementing a MOD program, there is a person in charge of your business at all times and your service delivery system is never sacrificed due to unavailable management.

A good MOD program comes from good training. Follow these necessary steps to prepare your MOD’s:

• Give your MOD’s authority to act on your behalf and be in charge of your facility, its staff and its operations.

• Teach MOD’s to understand all relevant information of each department so they may aid operations and staff during any shift as well as answer any member questions.

• Train your MOD to lead all emergency situations.

• The MOD must always be accessible. Therefore, the MOD must not train clients, teach classes or be otherwise unavailable during their shift.

• Have the MOD make regular facility walk-throughs so they may verify facility cleanliness and status of each department.

Despite the list of responsibilities as a Manager on Duty the actual MOD tasks should take up no more than one-third of an MOD’s shift leaving time for other functions; another reason that your current management unit makes for great MOD’s. With that balance of duty, be respectful of their time and resist the desire to use them as stand-ins for an understaffed department. Your Managers on Duty are there to perform an important function essential to your service system.

The virtue of the MOD is that with this program, exceptional service has no time restrictions. You club is able to keep the promise of great service and a safe environment to your members and continuous support and direction to your staff throughout all hours of operation because there is always someone in charge. Commit to a strong Manager on Duty program and commit to full service to your members. The alternative is to concede that members that don’t use your club during “business hours” get inferior service to those who exercise during administrative hours. Service Excellence is a commitment and to commit to it means to deliver service consistently. A good Manager on Duty program will make this service delivery easy.

John Oei is an operations and strategy consultant and columnist for Club Solutions Magazine. He can be reached through our editor via e-mail at tyler@clubsolutionsmagazine.com.


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  1. Larry Conner August 10, 2010

    We learned something from Hurricane Katrina that has benefited us ever since. We worked at a Greater New Orleans Area club when Katrina hit, and when we reopened with limited staff and limited hours, all managers worked all positions. This was a necessity at the time due to limited resources. We quickly learned that this worked best for everyone-the members, the employees, the managers, and the club. All of our managers do their time every 2-3 weeks as a MOD. The members love working closely with all the managers and get the best of service at all times. The employees always have someone to go to and are well supported by management on the front lines. The managers get to know the members and stay informed, and a part of, everything happening at the club. This helps them to be the best managers that they can be. The club becomes the biggest winner of all with happy and well served members, fully trained and understanding managers, and a club that is at its best at all times for the members. Put your best people in front of the members and out of their offices regularly to make sure everything is the way it should be-safe, clean, friendly, and professional.


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