The secret to true customer loyalty is to build trust. Instructors need to establish implicit and explicit instructional techniques within their classes and consistently deliver those methods in every detail and every dimension of programming. Group exercise, whether on land or in water, is essential to success.

Classes must include opportunities for the well-informed athlete, as well as the reluctant member who feels that weights are only for body builders.

If instructors are not educated about the vision and the mission of the club, they feel disconnected and confused as to what the club is trying to accomplish. Hiring the right person for the right job is important, but no one knows how a new hire will perform in a particular area until actual instruction takes place. To avoid complications with a valued employee, provide your staff with proper training on facility standards of operation and expectations regarding performance. Let them know that you trust their expertise and give them permission to use their talents to build membership.

Employees represent the integrity of the club. Members and guests judge the value and worth of their membership on the way they are treated, whether at the front desk or in a group exercise setting. Employees who understand the company's expectations are energetic and enthusiastic about their jobs. Self-motivation evolves naturally.

Not only are the right tools necessary for building customer loyalty, but making sure the right people are placed in the right position also insures customer faith. Members and guest want to believe what they are hearing, and they want to trust the information being articulated. Interviewing requires understanding applicants' skills, but also creating an environment whereby applicants can express themselves.

The interview takes energy and devotion allowing time for interaction based on job expectations. If applicants have performed well in the past, they'll probably perform well in the future. Look for successful people and people who enjoy being leaders, and individuals who can accept change.

Once hired, club standards must be articulated and interpreted to the new employee. It is important that there is an orientation to discuss the history of the facility, the population served, marketing techniques, and how members and guests are treated. The philosophy, the mission statement, and the vision of the club should be well defined so the new hire will understand the culture and the nature of how business is conducted on a daily basis. It is helpful if a support system is implemented through a buddy system or a training partner.

Standards and procedures are a necessary tool for club success. Standards need to be written and adopted for all aspects of business, from wearing uniforms to proper greetings and farewells. It is helpful if all employees are exposed to the requirements and expectations on a regular training schedule so that all staff works consistently. Don't be afraid to release a new employee within the first 90 days if he or she does not fulfill the expected job requirements.

In order to meet club standards look for the following qualities:

  • Successful work experience
  • Intelligence
  • High energy
  • Good references
  • Qualifications
  • To promote member loyalty and build the right programs and staff, you must:

  • Hire the right person for the right job.
  • Create an instructional atmosphere that creates energy and devotion.
  • Treat participants like you would like to be treated. Greet them warmly and thank them for attending your class.
  • Be nice. Learn proper etiquette and practice it daily. Smile often.
  • Make the extra effort. Hold doors for people. Acknowledge their efforts and remind them how valuable they are to you and to the club.
  • Empower your employees. Instill trust in your staff and thank them constantly for being creative and excited about working for you, which in turn promotes retention and customer well being.
  • Create a buddy system using your best performers to encourage new employees to continuously raise the bar.
  • Dr. Bill Smith is the coordinator for the Quality Training Program for the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center in Dallas. His training sessions involve all aspects of the fitness industry regarding retention to programming. He can be reached at 214-820-2758.