Highline Athletic Club in Burien, Wash., believes the secret to success lies within its employees. Highline doesn’t have a high turnover rate for its staff. In fact, the majority of employees have been with the company for five years or more.
“I feel the longevity of our staff is what helps separate us from other clubs in the industry,” said Dona Forrester, the general manager at Highline Athletic Club. “Our staff is our front line and they are the ones interacting with every member and guest.”
Ensuring the staff is top notch begins at the top of the chain. “I have been with Highline Athletic Club for 19 years,” Forrester said. “We have several Group X instructors who have been with us for 10 to 23 years, massage therapists for five to 12 years, fitness staff/personal trainers for six to 12 years, front desk/membership services for five to 11 years and so on.
“It’s important to hire the right people. We strive to retain our staff and to make Highline Athletic Club a fun place to work, which is evident from [the staff’s] longevity. Providing a fun environment for our members begins with positive staff morale.”
That positive morale translates to the members. “We specialize in relationships,” Forrester continued. “We are a club that is a ‘community’ within a ‘community.’ Our club has a small town feel, where everyone knows your name.”
This “Cheers”/community atmosphere has aided the club in advertising and marketing. “We focus on attracting members like the ones we already have,” Forrester said. “Many of our original charter members are still, and continue to, enjoy the club and refer friends.”
Highline Athletic Club began its conquering of local fitness enthusiasts in 1988, after the closing of a Family Fitness Center. “Family Fitness Center shut their doors and the building sat vacant for a little over a year before our ownership bought it from the bank,” Forrester said. “When Family Fitness went out of business and shut its doors, they left many people holding lifetime memberships that were no longer valid. Our ownership came in and made numerous facility upgrades and improvements and we began our journey to differentiate ourselves from what our community knew as Family Fitness.”
Forrester said Highline struggled in the beginning to distinguish itself from the Family Fitness that tarnished fitness facilities in Burien. “From the beginning our ownership raised the bar on athletic clubs in the Burien area, and we provided our community with the first full-service upscale facility,” she said. “Our ownership is committed to reinvesting in our facility year after year, and we stay true to our values, pricing and attracting the ‘right’ member.”
Passing time and a lot of work were inevitable in regaining customer loyalty in Burien. However, Forrester said Highline has done a great job at keeping the club extremely clean and equipment up and running. The club’s members noticed the extreme effort and have rewarded the staff by their devotion. “People who visit our club say that we are friendlier and much cleaner than most clubs,” Forrester said. “Highline Athletic Club is unique in that we provide our members with more than just a workout facility. We constantly strive to provide our members with unique and fun opportunities which set us apart from other clubs in our area.” -CS
By Tyler Montgomery