Running a club is not just about the nuts and bolts of the business. Of course, that is a huge part — what you actually provide. But, the foundation of a club is built on relationships. That means relationships with your staff, with your members and with a multitude of vendors and service providers. Relationships can make or break the vibe in a club, a department and a family.
My daughter started middle school this year and along with a little more freedom and a different building, she also got a lesson on forging relationships. While we all fidgeted in our chairs at the school’s orientation, the principal schooled us on filling each other’s “buckets.” The principal said, “Fill them with kindness, with help, with a smile. Fill those buckets up because it’s nice to do. Don’t look for a reward, don’t look for someone to fill your bucket. But fill those buckets up enough and when you do need your bucket filled, you will be rewarded.”
Be genuine about it. There is nothing worse than someone walking around with a fake smile and talking in a high pitched, fake voice, pretending to care about everyone, but not actually engaging. The staff, the members — they can see right through it. They know if you remember them or not. They can tell if you are genuine and if you actually care about them or not.
Here are three tips for building a strong relationship foundation at your club, essentially “filling up the buckets” of your members:
Make it your business to talk to people. Learn about your members. We all have “stuff” to do. We all have numbers to crunch and deadlines to meet. But if you hide in the back office all day and you don’t know the people in the club, you are useless. Someday something will go wrong — your club will have a flood, the heat won’t work. If you have a relationship with members and staff, these things won’t be as bad. In fact, they will help you smooth over the situation. If you are just the guy or girl in the back office, it’s likely you’ll have a mob of angry people at your door.
Be genuine. People see through fakeness. They don’t need it and don’t have time for it.
Respect everyone. Try to see a given situation through other’s eyes. An angry member might be having a bad day. There is a saying, “Be kind to everyone, for you never know what challenges they are facing.” The woman in the locker room yelling because the paper towels ran out? She is battling cancer. The man in the pool saying the temperature is too high? He just lost his job. The woman in the studio complaining that she wanted to do yoga today instead of Pilates? She is a stay-at-home mom who hasn’t slept more than two hours in months. You never know the inner battle, so be kind to everyone.
Bottom line — get out on the floor. Stand at the desk during busy times. Take a class. Know your members, and more importantly, make sure that they know you.
Kerri Miano has been working in the fitness industry for over 10 years. She is currently the group exercise director at Meridian Fitness & Wellness in Hazlet, New Jersey.