Doubling up on employees may seem like a luxury, but when the pressure’s on, you’ll be glad you did. Just as Noah filled the Ark with animals two by two before the flood, you have to hire staff in twos. The alternative is that you risk being stuck at the most awkward and stressful time without someone to whom you can delegate a critical function of your gym’s operation.
If you own or manage a small fitness center you always need contingency plans, especially when it comes to staffing. Large companies have all kinds of luxuries that come with the economies of scale, just by being big. When one employee is only marginally important to day-to-day operation there’s not much impact to operations and service when a job turns over. For the small gym owner, where each employee is a big fraction of the team, it can be a disaster when you lose a critical employee.
Prepare Now Or Scramble In The Flood Later
You end up doing jobs yourself that should really be delegated and fail to do the things that require your authority. You scramble just to keep everything looking like normal. Members don’t notice when the operation is running smoothly, their thoughts are elsewhere. But when service slips or equipment breakdowns don’t get fixed in a timely manner, or they can’t find a staffer to take care of some issue, members get worried. They’ll be talking about it to each other in whispers as they go marching two by two out your front door, never to return.
Handling customer service all day is hard work. It can be tedious and stressful and often leads to burnout. It takes a special person to handle it over the long haul. So, to some extent you have to accept that there’s a chance you’re going to have to replace a critical employee at the most awkward time.
The only viable response is the proactive response. What that means with this issue is to hire in sets of two and have a revolving person always on payroll. The new employees may get different titles or schedules but just having someone who can step in, should they be urgently needed, puts you in a position of strength.
The Cost of Hiring New Staff
Bringing in new staff is a necessary but stressful activity, for everyone. It’s always tough on the newbie, but you’re the one who has to go to the trouble of finding and vetting them in the first place. If they are the best candidates in the world they still need to be familiarized with your operation.
All of that’s fine if you’re in a large company or a franchise with lots of resources. But in a small gym you need to take charge and prepare for disaster before it strikes. The 2 by 2 principle applies to all roles in your gym. Janitorial staff, personal trainers, front desk, and managers. Yes, the manager, this is one of the most critical positions you have. So go ahead and hire an assistant manager too.
Dealing With High Turnover
Try to have at least two staffers who can fill each role and take on someone who can fill a revolving role. That way, as you shuffle your staffers around, your revolver can plug the gaps. The ideal candidate for this is someone who either is a motivated worker with ambition to learn the whole business or a part timer or occasional worker who likes to pick up an extra few hours when they’re needed.
It’s difficult, when you run a small business, to get everything covered, all the time. Thinking ahead to anticipate contingencies and preparation will help you to respond effectively under pressure. It’s true, the last thing you need is overstaffed payroll but that has to be balanced against the cost of staff turnover. If you sit down and establish a plan that doubles up just enough and you make good use other tools, such as dedicated gym management software, then you will find the right balance to build your gym into a mighty Ark of fitness.
Over to you…
How do you prepare for employee turnover?