Adam Arnett, the CEO of Element Personal Training, shares how to decrease turnover rates by implementing working interviews.
According to recent reports published in IHRSA, the average yearly turnover rate for a personal training (PT) staff is 80%. To put that into perspective, if your organization has 100 trainers, you will have to replace 80 trainers every year.
Whether we want to admit it or not, I think most of the blame can be given to the old school gym operator mentality from the 90s and early 2000s. When I entered the gym industry in 2005, every single operator I worked for had a cynical “burn and turn” mentality with staffing. Unfortunately, that poisonous mentality hasn’t been wiped from the industry entirely yet. Since around 2010, the leaders within all the business worlds have been in the pursuit of employee satisfaction and happiness, all with the worthwhile goal of improving recruitment and retention rates. The amount of books and studies written on the subject can fill a library the size of a gymnasium.
Needless to say, the demand to recruit and hire trainers is the No. 1 problem gym operators give us above all others when analyzing their PT department.
There are many attributable factors for why the average yearly turnover rate is so high. It can be blamed on any of these:
- Hiring process.
- Insufficient onboarding process.
- Lack of continued learning.
- Poorly structured compensation plans.
- Lack of benefits.
- And poor company culture.
I am going to tackle the hiring process.
Your process should expose the personality and skillset weaknesses of your candidates. Never should you hire after a single Oscar-award-winning interview or based on a “gut feeling.” Most definitely never hire out of desperation. Use the interview process to determine if they will fit your company culture and always know if they are capable, and most importantly coachable. If they don’t have each of those, save yourself huge amounts of stress, time, and money by not hiring them.
While analyzing our own turnover issues about five years ago, we calculated that at least 50% of the fault could be placed on the pre-hiring process. After making changes to it, our yearly turnover rate fell dramatically and ranges between 40% to 45% annually. That is half the industry average.
The most impactful improvement we made was adding a final four-hour working interview.
Working interviews for trainers and PT sales positions vary slightly. A trainer will perform five client sessions, demonstrate they can create workout plans and prove they are willing and able to interact with members for a full hour on the floor to make sets and provide one-minute tips.
Our PT Sales candidates will be observed rendering two sessions, making appointment calls for a full hour, floor set attempts for another hour, and role playing various steps of our consultation with the hiring manager the remainder of time.
If the candidate carries a great attitude and effort the whole way, and proves they are willing and able to be coached, they are more likely than not to receive a job offer.