We have all experienced too many meetings and too many meetings that have run too long, but that does not mean that we should avoid holding meetings. After all, meetings are critical for communication, resolving issues, building unity and planning effectively.

To avoid people feeling like nothing gets accomplished in your meetings, you send each attendee a clear agenda with goals prior to the meeting, and you should designate a secretary to take notes and send a meeting summary to all attendees by day’s end. This duty can be rotated among team members or permanently assigned to one person.

For most clubs, four types of meetings with specific agendas and goals would be beneficial:

1. Weekly tactical meeting. This meeting should be attended by all department managers at a preset weekly day and time. The general manager must enforce the time limit so the meeting is quick and productive. Prior to the meeting, each attendee should review the previous meeting notes and prepare for the meeting. The meeting starts with each manager doing a two- to three-minute presentation that includes:

  • Their top two to three priorities for the week
  • Their personal schedule for the week
  • Any items they believe should be discussed in a strategic meeting (more on this later)
  • Three to six predetermined relevant metrics, such as weekly check-ins for the front desk manager or number of memberships for the membership manager.

The last item for this meeting can be a short educational session conducted by a manager on a professional topic that they prepare and review with the general manager prior to the meeting. A different manager would do the educational presentation each week. Doing this improves their presentation skills while providing education for the team.

The weekly tactical meeting is designed to keep everyone up to date. In-depth discussions are scheduled by topic for strategic meetings generally held one to two times per month.

2. Strategic meetings. These meetings are for the resolution of a specific issue. Managers involved in any way with the topic should be invited and should come prepared to discuss the issue and resolve it during the meeting or shortly thereafter. Each person is encouraged to be open and express all their concerns and opinions. Controlled arguments that are focused on the issue are encouraged. As in all meetings, a secretary should take and distribute notes to all parties.

Each person should be heard in full. After everyone is heard, the general manager should make a decision that settles the issue, and specific action items should be determined. When team members are encouraged to share their honest point of view, they are more likely to support management decisions.

Examples of appropriate issues for a strategic meeting are consideration of a new program offering and suggested changes to club policies that cross several departments.

3. Monthly financial review. It is critical to review financials for the club and for each profit center in a team meeting. Each attendee should be given a monthly profit and loss for the whole club with a detailed statement for their department(s).

At the meeting, the general manager should review the summary profit and loss, sharing the number either on a projector or through handouts to all attendees.

Department managers should discuss their department’s revenue/expense/variances and should be prepared to explain all variances. This review process builds managers’ business literacy. This exercise is not about criticizing team members but rather about insuring that everyone understands the cause of all variances. (Many variances are cash flow changes that disappear when looked at over three to six months, but managers should know this and own their budget.)

4. Quarterly off-site review. This meeting should review the business in holistic fashion. Attendees should address where the business is going, what is happening in the fitness industry that will affect the club and what is happening in the overall economy and in the region that will affect the club. This is a good time to conduct a thorough review of all competition, including their location, pricing and competitive advantages.

These meetings also are a good time to hold team building exercises and have managers complete the Gallup 12 Question Management Survey, which is a standardized survey conducted anonymously providing a method for assessing management effectiveness.

Managers must pass on all relevant information to their department team members. Lack of communication is a top complaint so managers should have their own department meetings along with having a system of departmental communication including emails, bulletin boards, etc.

Greg Maurer is an associate partner with New Paradigm Partners. He can be reached at greg@maurer3.com