As a club owner, I knew that there were many things I could have done to increase my club’s operating efficiency. But like so many other owners and managers, the truth is, I was usually operating in survival mode — taking each day as it comes, and taking care of what needed to be done on a day-to-day basis. I was running back and forth from one issue to the next and circling back to the latest disaster.
It is always the same story, just in different locations. The owner or manager knows they need to upgrade the way they run their business so that their business isn’t running them. However, there just never seems to be enough time. And, even if there was time, they wouldn’t know where to start.
What I always tell operators is to start with your club management software (CMS) and reserve a two-hour block for the next four Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. Then, as they look at me with the bewilderment of a tourist who just saw a water buffalo in the New York City subway system, I explain that picking a time and putting it in the schedule is important — it makes it a tangible event that has a permanent place in your week.
The day and time is negotiable, but Wednesday is usually the most benign day, and late morning is usually the safest time. The only rule is that you treat this two-hour block the same way you would treat a scheduled meeting or appointment. At 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, everything else takes a back seat because you have a scheduled activity to attend to.
I generally like to work with my clubs to determine what areas need to be addressed, but a self-assessment by the owner or manager always speeds the process along. Answering two simple questions is usually enough to get the party started. 1.) Do you or your employees write any information on a piece of paper or in a book? 2.) Are there any recurring management-related activities that take you or your staff a large amount of time to complete?
You see, clubs continue to practice and do what works for them, continually doing what they always have in an effort to get the job done. But as my father would always say, “Practice makes permanent, not perfect.” Just because it works for you and your club doesn’t mean it isn’t also wasting valuable time and resources.
If you are using a book or calendar to schedule your personal training, boot camp, indoor cycling or any other event, then you are wasting time. If you are trying to manually keep track of sessions bought and sessions used, trainers’ pay reports or any group activity — then you might be losing a lot of revenue. If you believe that using a computer to completely manage your business makes things more complex and less reliable, then you are not running your business: It is running you.
Most likely your first two-hour “Management Efficiency” meeting will be devoted to identifying the areas of your business that can be managed more effectively. Once you identify those areas of need and potential improvement, then you should contact your CMS provider and work with them to put a plan in place. There is no reason to try and do it yourself — rely on your software experts to navigate you through the set-up and implementation of your plan. Any reputable software company will help you for free, because their success is directly related to your success.
Most clubs notice a positive change in their business practices within the first month and almost every club continues to hold 10:30 a.m. “Management Efficiency” meetings on Wednesdays.
We spend time on keeping our workout equipment clean and well-maintained in an effort to provide our members with the best service and product possible. Why would our back office management equipment be any different? You and your members deserve it.
Eric Claman owned two clubs in Torrington, Connecticut, before selling both and accepting a consulting job at Twin Oaks Software Development in 2011. He can be reached at 866.278.6750 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit healthclubsoftware.com.