As a gym manager, understanding how to manage a gym successfully comes with understanding how to lead a team. On top of that, you need to account for customer needs and values. And on top of that, you also need to have a good understanding of business operations. Broken down, business operations consist of managing inventory, staffing, marketing, safety, and the list goes on. It’s no job for the weak, but we have faith that you can excel at what you do. So here are a few pointers for managing your gym efficiently and successfully.
The Duties of a Gym Manager
To begin understanding how to manage a gym successfully, you must break down all of the duties of a gym manager and what their team needs of them. So what are the duties of a gym manager? Well, let’s list them out.
- Hire and manage staff. Facilitate their onboarding, training, and overall employment and scheduling.
- Maintain and manage equipment to make sure it is in safe, working condition.
- Manage the gym’s budget for the employees’ wages and for any maintenance in the gym.
- To cultivate and exemplify good customer service values and handle all complaints and feedback.
- Overall marketing efforts are managed by the gym manager.
For the lovely list of gym manager duties, one must have effective communication skills, stress management skills, and organizational skills. Managing a gym is daunting and far from an easy role, but it is rewarding! Those of you who are in the field deserve a little confidence boost. Just like personal trainers and fitness coaches need to obtain continuing education credits, managers might need a few pointers and refreshers here and there to boost success.
Hiring the right employees and ensuring that they have all the skills and resources they need to succeed is imperative as a gym manager. We have spoken about this a little bit in an earlier article on how to reduce trainer turnover rates in fitness businesses. The better equipped the trainers are, the more likely they are to have positive experiences in the gym.
These positive experiences range from effective communication with their coworkers, the proper handling of issues, good relationships with clients, and overall a happier experience as an employee. These come together to make a better environment for literally everyone that inhabits the building. We all know what it’s like to have a good day of our own that is a bit tainted by the negative attitude of one or two coworkers who just can’t seem to find the silver lining.
Nonetheless, ensuring that your employees are having more positive experiences than poor ones will make your life much easier as a gym manager. Correlating to that, your members will find themselves having more positive experiences if they know they can count on friendly faces and helpful staff.
What else goes into improving the fitness center employee experience?
The employee, as we have established, helps to shape the overall atmosphere of your gym. A negative atmosphere deters clients tremendously and thus we lose sight of success. In order to cultivate a generally good atmosphere, a welcoming and open-minded employee culture must be present.
An effective employee culture means that the employees know that they can speak up to their manager if they have any issues or questions. An employee that feels heard is one that is going to be the same in return. This also prevents conspiracy among the team of employees, which is the worst-case scenario for a gym manager.
Now employees can run into issues or become unhappy for a lot of reasons. I’m sure you have had to experience and handle some difficult situations regarding employee concerns! Concerns from employees often regard pay, benefits, schedules, and other employees. Most of those things are hands-off in management once done right, but others can vary from employee to employee and be difficult to stay on top of.
Schedules and pay often cause employees to become unhappy, but we can avoid that with good scheduling and well-planned pay. There are better times to work and there are worse ones. Although, when the work that each employee is tasked with is assigned relatively equally, then attitudes improve. Dividing work up evenly between shifts is no easy task, though. Break down the daily gym operations and divvy them up as you see fit for your employees on each shift.
What helps the most in this is to know exactly what it is like to work every shift and become familiar with every single task that your employees complete. The best bosses are the ones who have been in the position of the employee before and know what it is like to be on the gym floor. That perspective is invaluable to being a more understanding and open manager!
In terms of the gym itself, employees can become frustrated with the building and the equipment they use each shift! Often, if they are trying their absolute best to work with what they have, it might not be enough for the customer. This reflects poorly on the employee, but it is up to the manager to stay on top of all repairs and maintenance.
Building and Equipment Maintenance
A good day in the gym for a gym member is available equipment, no distractions, and a clean place to freshen up before leaving. Going to the gym is not everyone’s favorite task, so for the members that show up and show out you want to do the same. Ensuring that the equipment is working properly plays a huge role in the success of a gym.
Aside from equipment, members want cleanliness. You and I both know that gyms have the potential to become disgusting. Yes, horrific nasty germ-breeding places if there weren’t health code standards and the standards of the people who attend. People absolutely do not want to show up at work after workout sessions smelling like a gym bag! So they shower!
Clean. facilities. are. vital.
Now your employees might not be the keenest on cleaning them. But if they consistently have the right resources to do the job, then it will get done well. In a different field, I worked in an assisted living for about a year. The homes could get absolutely gnarly, especially on meatloaf night. The biggest pet peeve of mine was not having what I needed immediately to do my job properly and keep the facility sanitized.
Nonetheless, budgeting properly for the resources your employees need is key to keeping the gym itself maintained and your employees from becoming frustrated. Customers will appreciate both of those outcomes and member retention will increase over time.
Budgeting for cleaning supplies and maintenance on equipment might not always be the easiest on a slow streak for the gym. However, you have to get creative and cut corners where possible. Ask your staff what they would like to use and if they have any suggestions! Hearing from them about steps forward can
Managing the Gym Budget
Budgeting ain’t easy but it has to be done. Budgeting requires that you have a good understanding of the KPIs that affect your gym’s revenue.
Some KPIs to be aware of when calculating your budget are:
- Lifetime Value of a Member
- The Lifetime of a Member
- Number of Active Members
- Average Monthly Revenue from Product Sales (if any)
With all the means of generating revenue calculated, its time to calculate how much is spent on the:
- Stocking Products
- Utilities for the Building
- Rent for the Building (if necessary)
- Maintenance and repair of the building, equipment, and any technology
- Cleaning Supplies
- Office Supplies (Paper, writing utensils, clipboards, staples, etc.)
Without a doubt, regular maintenance is predictable and should already have a place on your calendar and budget. Repairs will be the trickiest portion of the budget to plan for. If not planned for, then a crisis can go into full effect. So as with anything in life, you have to be prepared for the unpredictable.
What is the worst possible piece of equipment, facility, or piece of technology that could need fixing? Is this the most expensive repair?
Budget for the worst case scenario, if possible! If not in full amount of the estimated cost, then budget for as much as possible extra each month.
There’s a lot to cover regarding customer service, but we will just go over some of the most difficult situations that tend to catch managers in a bind. But first and foremost, maintain good realtionships with your members! Make yourself known to the most regular attendees and never let yourself be known as the brooding boss. Going to work isn’t easy every single day, but the gym exists to give people the tools they need to improve their lives, so get excited about the difference it makes!
The customer is always right within reason! Sometimes, it is much more important to defend an employee than give the customer the gratification. Employees are a bigger investment for a gym than a single member, so handle every situation with grace and be sure to let the employee know that they are okay. Of course, only give gratitude to the employee if they handled a complaint or situation well, but that goes without being said.
Overall, customer service can be a huge pain, but if employees are armed to the teeth with good customer service skills and training, then it will be a more hands-off experience for the manger.
In the worst case, here are a few of requirements for handling a very angry customer:
- Take it to the office. Other members do not need to catch wind of trouble in the gym. They also do not want to be disturbed!
- Be sincere. Nothing makes a customer angrier than when they sniff out a lack of care response from management.
- Listen. Hear out the customer for everything they have to say
- Apologize as a first response. If it regards an employee, then do not throw them under the bus, but apologize for the mistakes made.
- Make reparations. Explain that the problem will be fixed immediately and will not happen again.
- Make an offer to maintain the relationship between the customer and the gym, but only if the customer is totally valid in their complaints.
- Learn from the situation and make sure to not give any customer reason to complain about the same issue again.
Marketing can be the most fun piece of managing a gym. Look at marketing as the opportunity to share the passion you have for your fitness center and the service it provides to your community. Marketing without passion or drive is clear to see and typically less successful.
Though, it is multi-faceted and can be challenging at times. It’s a learning process so always find comfort in trial and error until you get it right. A/B testing is great for this! You can try one form of marketing or a different design of an ad with different people at random.
Identifying unique and potentially prosperous opportunities will also help you to find more success in marketing. Marketing your gym through partnerships with other local businesses is an example of this.
Gym managers have more than enough on their plates, so it always helps to take a step back and reflect on the job done. Moreover, through reflection, learn what can be done better. Good relationships with employees will make life 10x easier. Your team is there to support you as much as you are them!
Most importantly, learn from every situation you find yourself in and cover your tracks well enough that you cannot backtrack into mistakes already made. Keep on chuggin’!