Ask an Expert: Debbie Lee on New Year’s Prep
You have questions, we have answers. This month we spoke with Debbie Lee, chief marketing officer of Gainesville Health and Fitness, about preparing for the New Year’s rush.
How does GHF view the New Year’s rush? DL: Skeptics of New Year’s resolutions present an unflattering view of the holiday and its hoopla. Some say it’s meaningless for consumers to have resolutions since nobody sticks to them, while others say gyms take advantage of the holiday by getting people to enroll — and hope they don’t come back.
That is not our view. The holiday gives members hope that they can be healthy, organized or less stressed. It’s a chance for a “do over.” And our mission, vision, core purpose and brand promise are all about helping the newbie make fitness a permanent part of their lives to reach their full potential and live life without limits.
Operationally, how is GHF preparing for the New Year’s rush? DL: While we embrace the New Year holiday, we also know the influx of new gym-goers requires us to plan ahead or succumb to the chaos. Operationally, we prepare by making sure equipment is working and extra parts are in inventory. Our year-round maintenance crew does a final check at the beginning of December to have time to replace machines, parts or fix any building and parking lot issues. We fully stock supplies as well, such as membership enrollment materials, toilet paper and gym wipes. Finally, we deep clean all facilities in December.
From a team perspective, how do you prepare for the New Year’s rush? DL: We begin the hiring process in October for January shifts. We hire many college students for front-line positions and they tend to go home for the month of December, making them unavailable for interviews. We complete the training and onboarding process in November for all front-line staff. We also add one more employee to each shift at the front desk, kids club and on the exercise floor.
In addition, we make sure new staff are fully trained and immersed in the Gainesville Health and Fitness brand and culture, to ensure they can deliver the promised experience. Consistency in staff behavior and company systems helps new gym-goers feel comfortable, and ensures they use the gym regularly.
In addition, we train housekeepers on where equipment is located. That’s a common question new members will have — and since housekeepers are everywhere and accessible, they often get asked questions.
Why is it important to prep for the New Year’s rush? DL: Many of our New Year’s prep activities also benefit the existing members. We are fully staffed and operational with enough equipment to accommodate everyone. We teach our newbies about gym etiquette, how to use each exercise space and where to go for help. We launch new programs, classes, GHF gear and smoothies to create excitement. For the past three years we have expanded and renovated with more equipment, functionality and parking to prevent bottlenecks during busy times. For us, preparing for New Year’s happens all year long.