October 17, 2019

Staffing Considerations by John Clark from Fit3Sixty

As an owner of a growing gym, it’s an inevitable process to have to hire a coach to support your business, to have an extra pair of hands managing the shop floor and to care for and support your clients.

On paper it’s a simple process, you put the money to one side, advertise the vacancy, get a tonne of outstanding applicants, interview, hire and away you go. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

There are a lot of pitfalls that can crucify your growth, your business and your client retention if you get it wrong. Get it right and it can help you grow, offer more to your members and ignite the next stage of your business development.

The Money:

When moving into hiring somebody; having the whole salary contribution needed for a full-time coach is problematic.

Not quite having the funds to bring in someone new on a full-time gig means it’s easy to think of hiring someone part-time as a stopgap with a view to then move them into full time.  For most people that are hired this way, it tends to mean that they resort to finding other employment opportunities to create a full-time salary for themselves outside of your facility. Then once you’ve got the money together to offer them a full-time role, it’s often too late, they can’t expand their hours and now you’re at a bottleneck again and need another part time coach.

If you’re not quite there for a full-time salary; work a little harder, a little longer. Save the money and recruit a full-time coach when you can afford them rather than plugging the gaps with a part-timer and then creating more bottlenecks further down the road.

Applicants:

Good personal trainers, as we all know, are hard to find.

Many have their own businesses or set alarm bells ringing when they apply. You should be talent searching early and often. Speaking with local coaches, getting a feel for potential coming through the various systems, in the local commercial gyms and PT hangouts like LTB.

Hire on the person rather than the skill set they have directly in front of you.

The best coaches are the ones that care, can communicate and do the extras, not those that can quote high level anatomy but don’t know how to speak to a person on the verge of quitting out of exhaustion after their child has been up all night.

You can teach the nuts and bolts of coaching as you go but you can’t change the character of the person.

Start there. Hire the person, then teach them the rest.

To hear more from John Clark, listen to episode 56 and 132 of the LTB Podcast.

Interview:

We used to interview but anyone can look and sound great in an hour of posed and staged questions that they’ve likely already prepped for.

We have an ongoing intern process now that includes being members, supporting coaching sessions, taking parts of the sessions, providing research reviews to the coaching team on various topics of learning and then after all that, if they fit the bill, they are offered a 12 week paid coaching trial.

How best can you see the “real” coach and person to get the best idea of their fit for your business? It’s not going to be with them in an awkwardly fitting suit, answering questions and trying to mind their P’s and Q’s to impress you.

Hiring:

Firstly, your new hire – they are not you. They will have a different view to things, different work ethic, won’t care as much as you for your business or gym (remember, no-one cares about your business as much as you do), they will teach differently and likely sometimes won’t even see the mud on the mats that you’ve been staring at desperate to clean up to keep up your standards of cleanliness.

Having a probation period protects you as a business from a HR perspective and also gives you that chance to really see what’s behind the scenes with their mind-set, coaching, philosophies and support.

If they aren’t the right fit, don’t be afraid to pull the plug.

Decide quickly if there’s a future, if there isn’t – move on.

Away You go:

Rule number one is to remember that YOU set the culture that your team will stand by.

You need to lead, not manage.

You need to give them clear guidelines of the pitch on which they can play the sport of coaching. Otherwise, you’re as good as giving them a ball and letting them go set up some goalposts wherever they care to and play any sport they want.

If you don’t explain how to do things and have them involved in the development and creation of the culture, then it is your fault when things aren’t done properly. They need to be a part of your values, your culture and principles of coaching or they will just be robots repeating the company lines, not being able to delve deeper with clients asking questions and exploring your delivery methods.  From cleaning standards to out of session support, you need to nurture them, teach them and bring them on. Just parachuting a coach into your business is as good as throwing a hand grenade in and expecting there not to be an explosion of epic proportions.

Have the money to pay them, work on having a steady stream of candidates in your system, how best to see what they’re really like and how to onboard them into your system and above all else, lead – not manage.

Do those things well and you’ll build a coaching team to be proud of, to grow and to develop with and take your business to the next level.

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