Inspired Service, Part Three: The Five Keys to Professional Leadership

How do you create a fitness business that changes the world?

By Patricia Kirk, MS
Aug 28, 2014

The first two parts of this series focused on improving customer service and inspiring employees to develop a business that generates a positive, or “high,” vibration—one that elevates people and makes them feel special. In this installment, we’ll cover the core professional self-knowledge that forms the foundation of an inspired business.

Ideally, you already advocate good vibrations with your customers. But an inspired business needs something more: You need to be a good vibration and let that permeate your business. To get there, first stop and reflect on who you are. From there, redraft your vision, mission and values so your company can lead the evolution of fitness and wellness.

To get to the right answer, you need to be

  • clear on your vision, mission, values and standards;
  • skilled in managing your business to support your vision;
  • likable and trustworthy;
  • consistent in what you deliver; and
  • courageous enough to innovate and evolve.

Let’s look at these five keys in more detail.

Key #1: Be Clear on Your Vision, Mission, Values and Standards

For your vision to be inspirational, it has to be concise and memorable. To find that clarity, ask probing questions like these:

  • Are we inspired by what we do?
  • What is our purpose? What kind of difference are we trying to make?
  • What is our vision?
  • How do we plan to fulfill our vision and make it happen every day?
  • Which of our values must not be compromised?
  • Do we believe in our vision and in ourselves?

As you develop your mission, never forget why people buy. Leadership expert Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” I’m fond of saying that people buy what they emotionally connect with; they buy what makes them feel special.

Here’s a sample outline for a fitness business:

  • Vision. We offer our customers a positive, warm, professional experience.
  • Mission. We make our members and employees feel special.
  • Strategy. We consistently provide five-star service: professional courtesy; authentic caring; efficient service systems; and credible and inspiring consultation and training in fitness, nutrition and health.

Key #2: Be Well Educated and Skilled

Customers want to know that you are credible and professionally competitive—and that you strive to be the best. Therefore, you need a strong educational background and well-defined expertise in the fitness industry. Nothing dilutes the impact of inspirational customer service more than a poorly managed business. Never compromise on

  • continuing education (and accountability) for yourself and your staff;
  • the best programs for your demographic;
  • amenities that are in line with your budget;
  • the cleanliness of your facility; or
  • efficiency in support services, such as appointment scheduling and bill processing.

Success depends on making positive vibrations that engage members emotionally. Poor management generates frustration that dilutes your members’ happiness and loyalty.

Key #3: Be Likable and Trustworthy

Being successful in the fitness industry requires that people like you and trust you. This is huge! One way to make this happen is to become exceptional at understanding emotional intelligence—and at knowing how to communicate self-confidence, a belief in what you do, credibility and caring. This gets to “why” people buy from you. Often, establishing trust just takes the right body language and facial expressions. Good posture, a pleasant smile, strong eye contact and a firm handshake will melt boundaries and engage a potential member instantly—but these attributes must be authentic.

Remember that emotions drive behavior. People buy what they trust and believe in. And they keep coming back because they come to trust more than the product or service—they trust you.

Key #4: Be Consistent

Consistency is the foundation of integrity. To consistently deliver an inspired customer service experience, you have to know your job and perform it well. And this has to happen every time you and your staff interact with customers.

Consistency is not just a matter of how you interact with members and employees. It goes to the core of how you do your job as an administrator and a manager. Be impeccable, and realize that how you behave in front of others defines who you are. You can’t be one person by day and a different person by night and think that others will find you authentic and trustworthy.

Integrity means having consistent values:

  • Who you are is how you behave.
  • How you behave is who you are.
  • How you do one thing is how you do all things.

Remember this: You influence others by who you are and how you behave. Ask yourself what kind of influence you want to be and have as an individual and as an organization.

Key #5: Be Courageous: Innovate and Evolve

You’re constantly thinking of ways to benefit your members, even before they know what they want or need. The same is true for how you treat your employees. Be courageous enough to evolve. Be willing to understand human nature. Explore the spiritual side of yourself, and take risks to share what you have learned.

Connecting with your inner truth will enable you to lead others toward healthier, happier behaviors that improve their lives. Just as science helps you develop the best fitness and health programs, you need to evolve ways of connecting with customers on an emotional level. Improving your relationship skills includes everything from how you use social media, marketing and communication to how you look facility members in the eye and let them know that you realize how important they are.

An inspired business creates positive vibrations that improve the lives of your customers and, ultimately, the world. Understanding the source of your inspiration is an essential step toward fulfilling members’ desires, and it will put you on the path to personal and professional success.

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Patricia Kirk, MS

Patricia Kirk, MS, is regional manager and director of training and development for commercial clubs for Club One Fitness. She has been in the fitness industry for over 25 years and began her career as a group exercise instructor and personal trainer. She has been in fitness management for the past 15 years. Her passion is developing and implementing employee development training programs, particularly in customer service and management leadership development.

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