The warmer months are around the corner, which means many people are signing up for fitness memberships – or making use of memberships they already have – to get in shape for summer. As your fitness center becomes busier, you’ll likely need to hire more staff across the board – including front desk workers, personal trainers and group fitness instructors.
You already know that your gym’s membership experience is critical for getting long-term commitments from your customers, but did you realize that your hiring process can have a significant impact on attracting new members, retaining the ones you already have and, ultimately, your gym’s profitability? According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), 68 percent of gym members have stopped working with a personal trainer because of a poor experience, meaning hiring the best team possible should be one of your top priorities.
To prepare for the busy spring and summer months, we’ve pulled together several hiring tips for the health and wellness industry:
Look beyond certifications
A personal trainer or fitness instructor might check every box when it comes to required certifications and experience, but having the right personality and attitude to connect with your members is just as important. The interview phase of your hiring process offers you the opportunity to see if candidates seem like a culture fit for your gym. Get a better feel for how a trainer might interact with your members by asking such questions as, ‘Walk me through your first training session with a new client. How will you get to know the client and his or her goals?’ or, ‘Can you tell me about a time you overcame a challenge with one of your clients? What did you learn?’ By asking such questions, you can determine whether or not a candidate is personable, and gauge how passionate the candidate is about helping clients see results.
Offer a trial run
Before you make the decision to officially hire a personal trainer or group fitness instructor, consider a trial run. Offer a handful of your loyal members a ‘free’ training session as part of each trainer’s trial period and after the session, ask the members for honest feedback. The same goes for group fitness. Consider adding an extra class or two to your schedule, led by a trial instructor – and observed by one of your group fitness staff members – and again, ask attendees for feedback on the class.
Firsthand feedback from members can go a long way in helping you make the right hiring decision – and keeping your members happy. IHRSA found that while happy fitness clients tell four to five others about a positive experience, dissatisfied customers tend to tell nine to 12 others about a negative experience, so the last thing you want is for members to have a negative experience with a new personal trainer or group fitness instructor.
Complete reference and background checks
Once a strong candidate has completed the interview phase and trial period, complete reference and background checks before extending an offer. Make sure that the information you gained from your candidates during the screening process is accurate, as more than half (56 percent) of employers have caught lies on resumes. Pay for background checks to verify employment records are correct, and degrees and certifications were earned.
Verifications are especially important for the fitness and wellness industry, where employees are not only working with members’ billing details, but may also be placing them in physical danger if they’re embellishing certifications or education background. Reference checks from both former employers and clients can also either validate your interest in a strong candidate or help you avoid the mistake of a bad hire.
Determine a retention strategy
Once you make a new hire, your focus then shifts to employee retention. No matter the industry, keeping a good employee is much more affordable than hiring a new one. When a good trainer or fitness instructor leaves, your gym will face unexpected costs such as staff overtime needed to cover shifts, you – the manager or gym owner – needing to pick up extra shifts, and the various costs associated with hiring, such as spending time interviewing and training new employees.
“Hireology was a much needed adjustment for us. The fact that the system stores all information in place is a huge deal for us since I oversee 23 locations. Before Hireology, we were never able to be fully staffed across all of our locations due to the time to hire and need to find the right person. After launching Hireology, we’re running fully staffed – something that hasn’t happened before in my 10 years with the company.”
– Chad Wallace, Director of Operations, Anytime Fitness
In addition to hiring the right employee in the first place, offer benefits to encourage retention. Include such benefits as paid vacation, flexible schedules, discounts on services and products at the facility, and rewards for reaching training goals, such as a team dinner. Also position the role as a career rather than a job, by offering tuition reimbursement for additional certifications or workshops that will help your employees improve in their roles. Another option is to let trainers and instructors know they’re valued by asking for their opinions on new equipment, classes or certifications your fitness center may need.
With more than 34,000 fitness centers in the U.S., competition for attracting and retaining both employees and members can be tough. By following an efficient process, you can build your best team, leading to long-term profitability at your fitness center.