Superior execution is often at the heart of small business success, but the cultures of many health clubs are not suited for successfully executing systems that help overcome challenges, such as managing change as the business adapts to new competitive conditions. To be successful, a company has to develop habits that instill a passion for quality in all corners of the club organization.

Most small businesses achieve success not because they bring a truly innovative idea to market but rather because they dazzle customers with excellent service. The health club business has become more diversified in the past few years. Yet regardless of your price point, if you want to increase your club’s retention, you have to have better execution of all of your systems. However, a focus on superior quality execution is easier said than done.

Here are five habits of organizations that successfully focus on quality execution and may lead your facility to small business success:

They set clear expectations. To achieve quality, you have to define it, and you have to disseminate that definition throughout the entire staff. “It’s the job of any business owner to be clear about the company’s non-negotiable core values,” says restaurateur Danny Meyer, one of the successful entrepreneurs featured in Bo Burlingham’s book “Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big.” “All of your departments need a clear vision of expectations that are built on your core values.”

They collect and analyze data. Collecting data is more common than ever, particularly with the advent of Web analytics. But companies that focus on quality have long stood out thanks to their passion for data. Moreover, the metrics they track go above and beyond either Web or financial information.

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These companies track net membership gained every month, average visits per day, payroll cost as a percentage of revenue, cost per sale, group exercise cost per participant, nondues revenue percentage and personal training gross as percentage of revenue. Every department needs to keep track of daily, weekly and monthly numbers in the categories that are relevant to them.

They invest in capacity. An organization stretched thin on resources will never be able to over deliver, and quality depends somewhat on the ability of a company to exceed expectations. The best clubs realize that most consumers will not accept the inability to access their favorite class or use equipment when needed. Some members of low-price clubs may have lower expectations of service, but many of these clubs have seen that if the members are not using the club, they will drop out.

They promote from within. Hiring in our business is usually done based on immediate need rather than long-term vision, so companies with a focus on quality know that one of the keys to success is to develop talent from within. Begin by looking for existing employees who possess the characteristics of your best performers. Create mentoring relationships and employee training programs to bring them along. Recruiting employees from within has the added benefit that they will already understand your club and your services. Promoting from within also helps reduce your overall turnover rate, which will in turn help you achieve higher standards of execution.

They celebrate victories. When you survey your members about the quality of service, make sure that everyone from the top down knows about the results and receives recognition for the things that are going well. Behavioral research has shown that you get more of the behavior you reward. Do not make the mistake that many quality-minded managers make, which is harping on only the areas of poor performance. Make sure you highlight those employees and teams who are doing exceptionally well and involve all employees in brainstorming ways to improve the things that are unsatisfactory.

Managers who seek a quick solution to execution problems will surely fail in attempts at making strategy work. Making a plan work is an even bigger challenge than creating the plan. However, this execution is the key to competitive success.

BIO

Ed Tock is a partner with REX Roundtables, which runs roundtables for business owners and chief executives. As a consultant, he has worked with more than 1,000 clubs since 1983. He can be reached at 845-736-0307.