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Taking the Worry-Free Summer Vacation You Deserve


Is it possible to operate a health club and take a vacation, too? Here’s how a combination of good staffing, technology and planning can give you the break you deserve this summer.

Start with Staffing:

Make sure your staff is properly equipped to manage in your absence. Get key staff involved in decision making and give them added responsibility. This will empower them and lead to stronger, happier and committed employees. This will also help them develop a take-charge attitude when you’re away. A typical mistake many owners and managers make is not delegating to staff. Avoid that.

Focus training on reviewing and sharing what goals and projects should be accomplished in your absence, and help set expectations. Develop a structured, written plan. It’s even helpful to post these on the wall in big letters to be first and foremost in everyone’s mind.

Do a thorough review of how to handle major tasks and where the local numbers are for the plumber, equipment repair specialist, etc., in case something goes wrong.

Face to face, tell key employees that you value their opinions and trust their judgment while you’re gone. They could, and should perhaps, consult with other key staff if an important decision comes up. Yes, you could leave your cell phone for them to call you in an absolute emergency, but define what that is — a break-in or roof collapse — not whether you can give a new member a free month when they join, or if you should order more paper towels because you’re running low.

Trust and Use Technology:

While you’re gone, log in to see daily reports if you have concerns about a particular area, but don’t overdo it, or employees will expect you to be available.

Have piece of mind with your club management software and make sure it’s a certified PCI-DSS billing and software provider, ensuring data is safe and secure. If you’re unsure, check the www.visa.com website, and go to the list of compliant merchant providers. All companies are listed alphabetically.

Your CMS should allow you to access information from anywhere there’s an Internet connection. Know sales stats, daily revenue, membership numbers and check trainer schedules online. If necessary, make data entry changes and corrections. A good CMS will have reports available to you at your fingertips.

Also, keep in mind only key managers and owners should have full security rights and privileges. Staff access to data that involves member information and account numbers should be fully user ID and password protected. Make sure the software requires that this secure information be changed every 90 days at a minimum. All reports that contain member information and account numbers, whether printed in-house or sent to you, should be fully encrypted. These reports should never be e-mailed, mailed or faxed.

Lastly, Planning:

You’ve spent time planning your vacation. Now, do some in-house preparation.
Set up automatic reminders and reports that need to get done. Most software can be pre-programmed with this functionality, allowing you to send out notices of non-usage, renewals or welcome notes to new members in advance. Put a staff member in charge for a fixed day each month. Retention can still happen even when you’re not there.
Have “emergency scenario” plans in place for your staff (for severe weather, power outages, a major class cancellation or equipment malfunction). Talk through these type of scenarios and ideally put them in writing. This suggests having a written list of standard operating procedures.

Make a list of items that need to happen each week and determine which staff member is in charge. Printing out the time sheets, calling in payroll, doing the daily bank deposit, retrieving mail and doing the point of sale reconciliation are all important tasks.

When you come back, recognize those who contributed and really stepped up. Consider rewarding them with not only extra pay, but also perhaps with a paid day off. Send them for a seminar or class, give them a gift card to a local retailer, some guest privileges at the club or even a gift membership for a person of their choice.

When the time does come for you to take a day off, most importantly, remember to have fun!


Carole Oat is a national sales manager at Twin Oaks Software and a former club owner and operator for 15 years. She can be reached at coat@tosd.com or 860.829.6000 x 281.

Carole Oat

Carole Oat is a national sales manager at Twin Oaks Software and a former club owner and operator for 15 years. She can be reached at coat@tosd.com or 860.829.6000 x 281.

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