|Originally Posted: 05/27/09
This would be a great business if it weren't for the damn members.
Anyone who has been in this business for at least a few years has said this at least once and the longer you own a fitness business the more often you mumble this to yourself during the day. At some point, however, these personal rantings somehow make us lose the proper moneymaking perspective.
One of my good friends was bitching over a beer at a workshop to me that he went into the club and it took him four hours to make a deposit because the members kept interrupting him. He had stories about how rude the members were to just walk into his office (the door was open) and how inconsiderate it was to just interrupt him while he was trying to work.
My response was to just laugh at the owner. Think about this for a few minutes. The members, who are paying monthly to belong to the club, see the owner sitting at his desk doing a little paperwork and want a question answered or a problem solved. These members are the clients/customers and they are expecting service for the money spent. As they see it, they pay and you help, which is not an unreasonable assumption.
What we have to question is at what point did we lose sight of the important issue that these members are right in their expectation of service and the owner who feels they are intruding in his day is wrong?
My advice is simple. Do all you're real work at home or some ungodly early time in the morning and then work under the assumption that if you are in the club you are fair game. In the case of the owner mentioned earlier, my advice to him was to build a real office in his house, do all of his critical work at home, and then go to the club and focus on making money and making members happy.
He tried this solution with decent results. He started work at about 7:00 at home and worked until late morning and then headed to the gym. All his real work, such as financial stuff and marketing, was done uninterrupted before he left the house.
Once in the club, he jumped in with this counter staff or worked with member problems, sold the occasional membership and concentrated on other things that grew his business. By getting stuff done at home (the maintenance side of the business) he was free to spend time at the club generating income all day (the income producing side of the business side).
Many owners waste their day doing things that don't really make a lot of money but it is the age-old argument of being busy instead of being effective. Most owners are very busy. Few owners are effective at making money during the hours they are in the club.
Here are four things you can do now to shift the focus away from a busy day to an effective day:
• Start early in a quiet place: Work from home, or an outside office, turn off your phones and crackberry, and concentrate on getting things done that have to be done to maintain your business. If you really embrace this thought you would also find time to read for 30 minutes in the morning as well.
• Spend your day doing the things that matter and delegate everything else: If it doesn't make you money, pay someone else to do it and you work on the things that will lead to more money for your business. This is why you shouldn't do your own payroll, service your own receivables or write checks everyday. These things are important but don't make you money. Do them at home or farm them out and only do the things that increase your revenue.
• Eliminate the distractions in your workplace: This is the work at home in a quiet room theory. Turn off the television and music and just work for a few hours. I have actually watched people work to see how they function and most end up doing so much less work than they realize because of answering emails, quick phone messages, spouses asking questions or kids. Two hours without disruptions is more time than you realize if you can focus on the task at hand.
• Manage the phones and be very afraid of the crackberries: One of the most powerful things I can teach you is to stop getting addicted to instant response management. Phones and crackberries are supposed to make us more productive but I believe they do more harm than good for most owners. The harm comes from making a dozen or more decisions instantaneously throughout your day without a lot of thought.
When you answer the phone, blast out a response and then move on, you are more into reactionary management instead of proactive management. This means your decision was quick, not thought out, and too short. Instead of quick responses, you would make better decisions, and free up your day to grow your business, if you only returned calls during certain hours and only returned emails once or twice per day. If your car is on fire or your dog was just pancaked by a truck someone will find you but otherwise, work on growing your business and return calls when nothing else important is going on at the club.
We make money in this business through the development of relationships on a day-to-day basis. People are more important in the club than making deposits. Making money today is more important than trying to design your own add. Managing your receivables is more important than collecting your own money. Work on people and production and everything