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Your Staff Is Your Biggest Asset — Listen to Them

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Industry players are constantly searching for new ways to improve sales and services, understand members, and streamline operations. When doing this, however, they often leave out some of the most important stakeholders: their staff.

Even the most robust member management system can’t solve inefficiencies if staff aren’t fully on board with it. Before operators invest in new software and features, they should actively seek out feedback from personal trainers, receptionists, club managers and other staff members.

How to listen 

One way to gain a full overview of your staff’s well-being is to use design thinking: an approach used by businesses looking to become more constructive and innovative. 

Design thinking involves five phases:

  • Empathize. ​Put yourself in your staff’s shoes. Observe them at work or shadow them for the day. This helps you understand issues from their points of view and gain new insight into how your operation works. For example, you may notice your staff is frustrated they have to use a computer when they register class attendance.
  • Define​. Once you have a clear picture of your staff’s daily work, you can more narrowly define the issues they and your operation face. Use all that information and experience you gathered in the empathize stage to define a clear statement of the issues that need addressing — i.e., it’s a problem that the staff must leave the gym floor and go into the back office to register class attendance.
  • Ideate. ​Start brainstorming ideas for how to solve the issues you have defined. Think outside the box, be creative and don’t be afraid to put down ideas that seem a bit unlikely or wild. Could you send an SMS reminder to members who signed up to take a class? Integrate an easy cancel button in your member management system? Give rewards to those who show up? Keep those ideas coming.
  • Select. ​Pick one or two of your best ideas and make an action plan for how you can make them a reality. Define a scaled-down solution that could work as a trial or prototype — i.e., a mobile app for staff to register class attendance.
  • Test. ​Test your solution out on a small audience. Choose one class or type of class to try your solution out. Analyze the results to determine whether or not it would work on a larger scale.

While design thinking phases are meant to be done in order, it’s OK to go back and better define a problem or new idea. Once the problem is defined, there may also be a need for more observation. Regardless of the phase, it’s important to involve a group of people with diverse skill sets and experience. This includes those who are closest to your members: your staff.

Mehdi Benjelloun is the COO of Exerp America Inc. He can be reached at sales@exerp.com.

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