Tap into Your Health Club Staff’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

By promoting an entrepreneurial mindset, you’ll empower your team to build relationships and boost sales.

It’s 3 p.m. Your club is quiet, but soon the after-work rush will begin storming the gym. Then you receive a call from a group trainer who runs one of your most popular classes—something has come up and she has to cancel.

What do you do? Do you call a replacement trainer to conduct the class? (Good luck getting one on short notice.) Do you place a sign at the front desk announcing the class has been canceled, disappointing a dedicated group of members, many of whom fought through difficult rush-hour traffic to attend their favorite class? Do you post a notice on social media and hope members see it in time?

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There are no good options. Last-second cancellations, rescheduled classes, and other disruptions stress not only club owners but the entire front staff and other club employees. Wouldn’t it be better if the trainer was able to directly contact other instructors via a quick text so the class won’t be canceled?

Many club owners have digital messaging services, but often these capabilities aren’t available to specific instructors and club staff. In other words, all communication goes through a single point of contact: the general manager or club operator.

Just like scheduling and member communications, payments from members purchasing training sessions are often processed only by sales reps, not trainers themselves. This can create friction that slows down transactions, which costs you revenue.

It’s time to empower instructors and other staff by providing them with digital tools that not only allows them to communicate directly with members, but to promote, recruit, and communicate whenever and wherever they are.

It’s about creating an entrepreneurial mindset within your trainers and employees. If done correctly, the rewards are enormous.

Putting the Employees in the Driver’s Seat

Empowering staff to initiate and complete the sales process is a multi-pronged process that begins with hiring the right employees for your brand and culture. It’s not a process to take lightly. As former IHRSA Executive Director John McCarthy says, “Every hiring decision is a retention decision.”

“It’s about creating an entrepreneurial mindset within your trainers and employees. If done correctly, the rewards are enormous.”

Kate Golden, director of people and fitness operations at Newtown Athletic Club in Newtown, PA, stresses the importance of an onboarding program for trainers and employees that’s people-centric.

“Day one is all about human connections,” Golden says. “Don’t put them in front of a computer; technology is great, but ‘high touch’ is more important than ‘high tech’ at our club.”

It’s about building relationships. Newtown wants their trainers to use their chosen digital platforms to bond with members. Golden believes that their club’s employees are the best messengers for their brand.

“We encourage our trainers to be social ambassadors, not only in person, but also via social media, because content shared by employees produces eight times more engagement, and is shared 25 times more frequently, than content circulated by brand channels. We have a social media policy for all of our people.”

If you hire correctly and execute a thorough onboarding campaign that’s consistent with your culture and brand, then you simply get out of the way and let the trainer do his or her thing.

“In the final analysis, if you let your trainers know that you’re invested in their success—they’ll invest in yours,” Golden says.

Many personal trainers today are well-versed in building their own brand and following. If you can tap into that entrepreneurial spirit, then it can work in your favor in a big way.

Giving Group Trainers More Flexibility

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Not every trainer is comfortable with sales and self-promotion, but if you can give them the tools to communicate in a way that works for their personal style, then the sales will come.

The same principles hold true for group instructors. Whether it’s small group training (SGT) or larger classes, trainers need to see their success as inextricably linked with the club’s overall success.

“It does need to be part of their mindset that they are really selling themselves every time they are in the club,” says Michele Melkerson-Granryd, general manager for BB Fitness Studios in Austin, TX. “The mindset of the salesperson is essential.”

In a webinar for IHRSA called, “Sales Training for Trainers Who Don’t Like to Sell,” Melkerson-Granryd says that the key is to create opportunities where the trainer is exposed to members who want or need expert help. Melkerson-Granryd’s list of job duties for personal trainers includes:

  • Selling and promoting their personal training sessions
  • Participation in club activities that result in visibility
  • Participation in marketing activities and events

Clubs need to give trainers the tools necessary to raise their visibility and forge stronger bonds with members.

“If you only expect your trainers to bring in clients on their own, you’re missing so much opportunity,” Melkerson-Granryd says. “It really has to be a partnership.”

To incentivize trainers and staff employees, they have to be able to complete the sales process without the extra step of getting salespeople or club managers involved. If your staff doesn’t have these capabilities, you need to seriously consider changing your digital strategy.

How to Give Your Trainers and Staff the Digital Tools They Need

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Remember that club owner who got that call at 3 p.m. from a group instructor canceling her class? Wouldn’t it be great if that group trainer had an app where she could directly connect with her colleagues to see if somebody can replace her?

They could with the Exerp Staff App. Created by Exerp, a global IT specialist in member management software for the health and fitness industry, the Exerp Staff App gives trainers and club employees a powerful platform to build relationships with members that will drive revenue through attendance recording, retention, and brand enhancement.

The Exerp Staff App can do wonders for your revenue by removing that central friction point that can slow down scheduling and payments. Instructors can manage appointments, track attendance, handle bookings, and do it anywhere. Suddenly, the world is at your fingertips.

With the Exerp Staff App, team members can swap classes with each other and check-in or remove members from training sessions on the spot. And with so many clubs hosting events and workouts in outside locations, the app allows instructors to easily organize these events in any location with their mobile device.

With the Exerp Staff App, you’re unleashing a team of entrepreneurs within your club. You’ll not only boost profits, but improve efficiency. By empowering team members, you’ll have more time to concentrate on the bigger picture.

Visit Exerp’s website today for more information on their Exerp Staff App and other innovative products for your club.

Related Articles & Publications

  • Unleash Your Team’s Talent

  • Creating & Keeping a Power Sales Team

  • Top Tips for Growing Fitness Revenues

Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org