To create a high-performing fitness business and succeed in today’s competitive market, you can’t go it alone. And while you can pay people to do the bare minimum, your real competitive advantage comes from creating a work culture that attracts high-quality talent and that inspires people to bring their very best. You want superheroes.
Fitness business superheroes have the following qualities in common:
- a service mindset
- a genuine hunger for professional and personal development
- an ability to develop meaningful connections with a range of personality styles
- a passion for health and wellness
- an alignment with your business’s culture and values
There are more characteristics than the ones mentioned above, but these points form a foundation on which you can build a thriving business. The fitness industry is a service industry at its heart and is defined by the people (or superheroes) who work in it. Simply put, you can’t be outstanding without an amazing team. You won’t be able to grow your fitness business and increase revenue unless your clients and members love your team. And without a great team, you won’t be able to inspire your clients to embrace health and fitness behaviors.
Mark Fisher Fitness has experienced explosive growth, and we’ve recognized that our greatest advantage lies in the remarkable humans that make up our team. Like any organization, we have our challenges and we’re no strangers to internal conflict, disagreements and tension. But, at the end of the day, we’ve developed a tribe of deeply committed, mission-driven superheroes. We strive to live by our values, and we’re willing to have the tough conversations required to keep us moving forward.
In this article, I’ll lay out some of the strategies and principles we’ve used to grow the Mark Fisher Fitness team and get listed as one of the fastest-growing companies in America 2 years in a row by Inc. magazine. I’ll warn you in advance: Leadership is not for the faint of heart. In very real ways, the limitations of your business are a reflection of your personal limitations as a leader. But if you’re willing to do the hard work of improving yourself and supporting your team, the payoff will be much more than money. It’s the satisfaction of providing people you love with good work and the opportunity to spend their days helping your clients and members achieve their goals while using fitness as a platform to live their best lives.
Finding Superheroes: Recruiting and Interviewing
Where do you find superheroes? The short answer is, “Everywhere”!
Maybe you’ve heard the expression “Hire for attitude, train for skill.” This is especially true for any service-based business, and fitness is no exception. When you’re looking to grow your team, it’s great if you can find trainers who are already certified and experienced. You may find potential team members at industry conferences or local fitness networking events. But you may also find high-quality candidates among your clientele, among friends of your existing team, in your extended social network, or even at a restaurant or retail store when you notice great service.
What? Recruit from outside the industry? Yes! If you can develop an in-house education system and are willing to invest in staff education, limited experience doesn’t have to be a barrier. If you do find a great candidate from outside the industry, it’s of course important to train that person properly and make sure he or she gets certified, buys fitness insurance, etc. But it’s always easier to train for skill than to successfully integrate an experienced trainer who is not a good fit for your culture.
You also need to become proficient at interviewing if you want a team of superheroes. This may seem like an autopilot task that requires no extra attention, but a skillful interview can make all the difference. While a full exploration of interviewing is beyond the scope of this article, here is one interview “hack” to make your interviews more effective:
Create questions around your values. All businesses have different values and behavioral norms. It’s important to ask specific questions that reveal how the potential superhero will behave in different situations. The best way to do this is to ask about specific times in the past instead of relying on hypotheticals. For example, ask: “If you were dealing with an angry client, how would you respond to address the situation?” A better question would be, “Tell me about a time in the past when you dealt with an angry customer. What specific actions did you take, and what was the outcome?”
You’ve found your superheroes; now what? What do superheroes want? Although you have to pay people enough money to be competitive in your market, true superheroes want to contribute to a great mission and develop their unique skills. Without a true mission, the default goal of your business is just a financial objective for you, the owner. Superheroes aren’t going to be satisfied giving their life force just so that you can have a nicer summer vacation. They want to contribute to something greater than themselves.
Once you’ve articulated an inspiring reason for your business’s existence (for example, Inspire the World to Fitness™), you’ll need to provide opportunities for your team to grow and develop.
For more information, see “The Care and Feeding of Superheroes” [/fitness-library/the-care-and-feeding-of-superheroes/ in the online IDEA Library or in the July–August 2017 print edition of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.