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Hire Properly to Retain Properly: 4 Strategies for Health Clubs

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Ben Ludwig shares four strategies for health club leaders to hire properly and retain valuable team members.

It happened again – you finally thought you had a full team built. Some members needed a lot of work, some didn’t even really fit the bill at all, and some drive you crazy, but they produce, right? This leaves you feeling like you have to keep them on your team otherwise you won’t hit your targets for this month. But then another team member puts in their notice, and not even two weeks. They’re done on Friday, which is tomorrow. Does this sound relatable?

As business owners and managers, we’ve all been there. You thought you were done posting jobs and interviewing only to have another staff member quit. Well, the good news is that can stop today. Here are four strategies to give health club leaders the best chance at keeping staff members for the long run. 

1. Hire Slow and Have Multiple Interviews

The fitness industry is notorious for finding a good personality, fit body, and confident attitude and tossing a shirt at you “before someone else snags you.” The problem with hiring people on the spot or too quickly is you don’t really get to know the person sitting in front of you. Many years ago, I decided to change my tune and interview even the best candidates multiple times. This simple change allowed me to really get to know the person, who they were, what their values were, and whether or not they truly fit the culture I wanted to build, not just what they wanted me to hear and had prepared in the mirror the night before.

Often times, I would see a very different person in front of me for the second and third interview leading me to not hire the person, and ultimately saving me a lot of time and money later on. Although it can be painstaking at times, it is always better to dig in and figure out ways to create short term wins while looking to hire the right person.

2. Create an Intentional Interview and Onboarding Process

The worst thing for a candidate is to have multiple interviews where you get asked the same questions for the second or third time, even if it is from different people. It can look like there is poor communication within your organization, or even worse, it can feel like a waste of time for the candidate, leading them to seek employment elsewhere. When creating a longer interview process, it is best to have a strategy behind the process and lay out your intention for the outcome at the end of each step.

Learn More: Creating an Engaging and Interactive Hiring Experience

For example: interview No. 1 can be laid out as a personal get to know you. The goal of this meeting is to get to know the candidate as a person, not necessarily just their job history and what their strengths and weaknesses are – which is a horrible interview question by the way. Interview No. 2 can be an interactive job-based scenario to see their preparedness for the role. This meeting can be much more what would you do if-based questions which allows you to see their initial reactions, and on the spot how they would solve common problems they would come across. Interview No. 3 can be much more aspiration-based, as you will likely only come to a third interview with the most serious candidates. In this meeting you can outline what the scope of work would be, ask about the interviewee’s personal goals, and align expectations around pay, time off, future opportunities and things more tangible for the candidate. 

3. Have a Concrete Evaluation Plan

Let’s be transparent with each other, another thing the fitness industry is notorious for is having performance-based compensation plans. These often allow upper and middle management to be vague in planning or giving raises because you can “sell more if you want to make more money.” This can lead to burnout, lack of trust with staff members and more turnover, which of course, all lead to lack of culture. Also, nothing is worse than never getting a raise until you discuss leaving the company with your boss right?

Learn More: Creating the Best Onboarding Experience

If you want to keep the best people, and also keep the best people producing the best results, you need to give them something to look forward to. A bi-annual review allowing them transparent discussion of their impact on the business, or progress toward their personal goals will not only be appreciated, but will help them truly continue to make an impact. Many fitness business owners are even looking at adding profit sharing or awarding percentage ownership to the longest-term, high-level impact employees to reward loyalty and assisting in building a business. 

4. Always Seek to Add Value to Your Team

The final best practice in leading a team is to always have their best interest in mind. Now this may seem like common sense, but as business owners and managers, it can be easy for us to get tunnel vision on growing our business, servicing our customers, or gaining the most market share. We often forget who is providing the service to begin with. Your team has aspirations, goals and desires that you can only know by knowing your team well. These goals often go well beyond their next paycheck.

It is always good to help your teammates find out how to make more money, but what about those that don’t know how to manage their money? What about a team member who wants to go back to school? Or buy a new car? Or get an additional certification? The best way to go about keeping a motivated and bought-in staff is to ensure you are helping them live their best life, just as you are doing with your clients. So, next time you see one of your trainers drinking an energy drink and eating a protein bar they bought at a gas station next door for the fifth time this week, maybe your best option is to get to know them a little better and then help them learn how to manage their money. The trainer, and the industry, will ultimately thank you. 

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Ben Ludwig

Ben Ludwig currently serves as the Growth pastor for CrosspointNow network of churches across Kansas, acts as the Subject Matter Expert in Sales for Fitness Revolution, sits on the Advisory Board for the International Strength Training Organization and is currently a stakeholder, shareholder and Senior team member with the fastest growing fitness franchise in the world: F45 Training Headquarters. He has held a major role in creating sales processes, marketing best practices, and operational systems within F45 across the globe including presenting at a global scale to franchisees in 60-plus countries. Ben also has a working hand in many start up businesses including owning multiple fitness businesses and founding fitness businesses featured on Good Day Kansas and KWCH Channel 12 News. He also contributes regularly to fitness business magazines, podcasts and presents regularly on Fitness Business Topics. Ben also volunteers his time on nonprofit Boards of Directors, presenting, preaching and public speaking and is open to contributing his time and expertise in causes he feels align with his values.

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