Neal I. Pire, is a health club business consultant with 27 years experience, specializing in staff and program development. He has served as author and associate editor for the American College of Sports Medicine’s Resources for the Personal Trainer Manual, and is the author of Plyometrics for Athletes at All Levels (Ulysses Press, 2006). A fitness expert to medical, professional, and community groups, Neal served as lecturer for New York Medical College, and UMDNJ. He is frequently featured in national media such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle, MSNBC, Shape, Fitness, Univision-TV, WABC-TV Eyewitness News and the CBS Early Show. He can be reached at DrFit@optonline.net

In a business where member retention and referrals are dependent on customer satisfaction, recruiting and hiring candidates with the right personality traits and skill sets is crucial. But even the most talented personnel require comprehensive training and continued development to ensure that they can deliver on your company’s mission and service promise.

Expectations. It is important that employees know from day one what management’s expectations are, as well as what they should expect from management. Job description and responsibilities should be clearly defined and discussed by the employees and their direct report(s) as part of the final interview process. Once hired, basic employment policies should be clearly outlined and reviewed as part of the payroll forms ritual. These policies (uniform and grooming requirements, paid leave policies and procedures, payroll and employee benefits procedures, etc.) should be delivered either by a human resources representative or general management.

The big picture. The next step should be a general orientation that will help employees understand the “lay-of-the-land” and begin to identify with the company. This progressive indoctrination will teach employees about the company they are now part of. This is where their importance to the success of the business begins to take shape. This general orientation should include:

  • The organization’s mission statement and service promise provides the paradigm with which the employee can make effective day-to-day decisions.
  • The organizational structure of the company (who the players are, how the departments are structured and how they interrelate with the employee’s department).
  • A company snapshot -- where it “lives” in the industry, how it has developed into a business and what the current big-picture company goals are.
  • General employee policies and procedures (many of which have already been discussed in prior training) should be repeated to ensure that they are understood – note that adoption of company philosophy is an ongoing process.
  • How to be a productive employee.

    Departmental orientation. After setting the tone with a company orientation, the employee should go through an in-depth departmental training that addresses how it relates to overall company goals. This training should include:

  • The department’s goals and service objectives, which clearly relate to the employee’s specific job tasks, while maintaining departmental customer service objectives.
  • The organizational structure of the department, the chain of command, day-to-day resources and how to best communicate with management and other employees.
  • A snapshot of the department and what it provides for the company and your customers, as well as the current goals of the department.
  • Specific departmental policies and procedures.
  • Employee’s and direct report’s expectations.
  • How to be a productive team member.

    Employee job task training. This is where day-to-day technical tasks are covered. It should provide a comprehensive step-by-step learning opportunity that will give the employee the specific tools for their daily job tasks. This may include:

  • Opening/closing/ operational procedures (those applicable). It is important for you to keep in mind that cross training employees across departments is a good thing.
  • Systems (software/equipment) training (member database and check-in, telephone/intercom system operation, training equipment, etc.)
  • Technical service training (fitness assessment and exercise programming guidelines for trainers, post-workout shake recipes or procedures for juice bar personnel, membership service criteria for reception staff, etc.).
  • Emergency procedures.