Facilitating Change

by Amy Boone Thompson on Oct 01, 2005

equipment Facilitating Change STRATEGIES TO HELP YOUR STAFF AND MEMBERS WELCOME AND APPRECIATE YOUR NEW EQUIPMENT SELECTIONS. flyers, on your website or through word of mouth. When citing intended improvements, state the reasons why you are adding or removing equipment. This gives members a chance to voice their concerns or approval and lets them feel they are being heard. By Amy Boone Thompson The Efficacy of Education Educate Your Staff. Educate your staff so they in turn can educate your members. Just as you gathered your team to announce the changes that were going to be made, you will get them together for an instructional workshop before the new equipment is unveiled to members. Bring in your account representative to lead this workshop. He or she can highlight the features of the new equipment, teach staff how to use it properly, share tips on how to incorporate it into your club's unique programs and instruct everyone on how to care for the new purchase. Alternatively, designate one person from your staff to present this type of information to your other trainers. This person will need to read the equipment manual or visit with the manufacturer to learn how to operate and care for the equipment. Finally, remind staff that purchasing new equipment is one of the easiest ways for a club to increase its personal training business. Every member in your facility needs, and usually wants, personal instruction about unfamiliar equipment from your professionals. Educate Your Members. One of the most effective ways to generate a welcome reception from your members is to educate them before you purchase equipment and then follow up immediately after its delivery. Ask fitness floor staff to seek out members who routinely use an item slated to be removed. Using a friendly and helpful approach, let these members know that you plan to remove this machine and tell them why you are making room for the incoming product. After the new purchase arrives, double or triple your fitness floor staff supervision so trainers can spend additional time giving demonstrations. Attach colorful balloons or signs to the new item for its first month, to give it more visibility and to generate enthusiasm. Trainers can offer complimentary "program updates" to help members A fter months of careful selection and negotiation, you have finally unveiled your nifty new equipment purchases to your club's staff and members. Now you can relax and bask in the glow of favorable reviews, right? You had hoped your colleagues and members would be excited; instead they are bickering about the new equipment and threatening to leave the club. How could this be? Every fitness manager has or will be faced with negative reactions when confronted with operational or facility changes. Here are some real-world steps you can take to defuse criticism in your facility and help both your staff and your members understand the need for equipment change. You will need to use two critical skills--communication and education--to bring people around to a new way of thinking. Moreover, each of these skills will be more effective if you target your approach differently for your staff and your membership. ees hear what members really want, and they know firsthand what would help them increase the club's business. Of course, it's not always possible to accommodate your staff's every wish or suggestion. But it is possible to make employees feel that they have contributed to the process and can later understand and support any decisions made. Discuss upcoming purchases and decide together what should be removed to make room for new equipment. Create a plan for the first day, week and month that the equipment is in your club. This communication will allow your staff to share in the vision and understand their role. Communicating With Members. The Art of Communication Communicating With Staff. Change is often more difficult for our staff than it is for our members. Trainers and instructors have to learn new skills and concepts in order to be effective at their jobs. They need to become in-house experts on new modalities overnight. Plus, they need to support and at times defend management's decisions even if they aren't completely "sold" on them themselves. For these reasons and more, managers should include staff in the decisions to purchase equipment whenever possible. Send them to trade shows or showrooms to conduct product research; ask them what they need in order to do their jobs well; listen, and incorporate their ideas when applicable. After all, your employ- Prior to purchasing equipment, fitness managers should solicit feedback from members and target their top needs. There is an art to this process in that the feedback needs to be general enough so that it applies to the majority of your members' needs; however, it also needs to be specific enough for you to identify the exact modalities and machines that members want. Accepting feedback from members can be difficult for some managers, who may feel personally invested in equipment decisions. As a manager, you need to learn how to separate your personal feelings from the business at hand. This will help you stay focused on the concerns and prevent anxiety or anger from clouding the conversation. Welcome both positive and negative comments from your members; without this feedback, you will have no room to improve your operations. Listen attentively and thank members for their suggestions. Communicate upcoming changes to your members via your frontline employees. Create an air of excitement throughout the club by sharing equipment news in your club's newsletter or October 2005 IDEA Fitness Manager incorporate the equipment into their current workouts and to sign up clients for private instruction. Another fun way to educate members about your new machine is to hold a "Blue Light Special" on the fitness floor during prime-time hours. Periodically announce over your intercom that a trainer will be giving a 10-minute demonstration at a certain time. To personalize the experience, limit the number of members to groups of 5 people and give each group an hourlong demonstration during the busiest shifts in your club. While not all members will take part in the demos, many will see and hear about them. pick and choose the beans you like best and leave the rest in the jar without offending anyone. When applying this sentiment to equipment purchases at your club, be selective when using others' suggestions. Think objectively, and don't rush to act on suggestions simply to quell criticism or to win member or staff acceptance. Stand behind your decisions as a fitness manager, and always give credit where credit is due if you are implementing someone else's shared idea. First communicate, to gain support and trust. Second educate, to give value and to show benefits. Amy Boone Thompson is the fitness director for Club One Inc. and is based in San Diego. She is an international presenter and educator for fitness professionals and managers. She can be contacted at amy.thompson@clubone.com.

IDEA Fitness Manager , Volume 17, Issue 5

© 2005 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Amy Boone Thompson

Amy Boone Thompson IDEA Author/Presenter

Amy BooneThompson is the national project director for Stroller StridesTM and is experienced in directing multi-purpose health clubs and spas.  Amy teaches fitness/nutrition with Stroller Strides and...