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Current Issue In Print Leadership The Essentials

Recognizing Opportunity and Lead Change

Recognizing Opportunity

Sheldon McBee, the executive director of Universal Athletic Club, shares the importance of recognizing opportunity and leading change.

We have all heard of the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We can describe this phrase with another one by saying the notion of, “This can make or break you.” 

Like many other industries, the world before COVID-19 was very different than it is today. We can predict the industry will operate differently as we progress onward. 

Will personal trainers be replaced by AI? Will it become the norm to use third-party data analysts with your member management partnership? Will governing bodies find better ways to support fitness facilities and position them as an essential part of the health care continuum? 

This, and many other potential realities, need to be considered as we move into 2022 and beyond.  

As members are returning to gyms and studios, it becomes very easy to let your guard down and say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 

We found ourselves in that very situation at our health club. The COVID-19 vaccine became readily available, mask and social distancing mandates were lifted, and we immediately saw a surge in rejoins, new memberships and unfrozen accounts. Our instinct was to avoid directly competing against big brand “at home” fitness options and get back to the acquisition and retention strategies that were peaking business numbers in late 2019. 

This is a clear trap. Instead, the focus shifted to creating a more frictionless experience through technology, delivering an omnichannel offering and offering behavior change methodology to new members to enhance member retention.    

The focus here is not so much the method, but the leadership needed to execute. It’s all about recognizing opportunity and using your skills as a leader to get your team on the bus. 

The first step is to take an honest and objective assessment of your operations. Then facilitate your staff to find gold in the opportunity of operational change without your dictation. That gets you one step closer to buy in.  

Then, as leaders, define step-by-step direction that guides your business toward the opportunities identified by staff. Walk around the trap of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and step toward the direction of golden opportunity.

Sheldon McBee

Sheldon McBee is the executive director of Universal Athletic Club.

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