Tim Bainton is the President of Blue Chip Sports Management based in Washington D.C. Tim is a published author and frequent industry contributor.
This month: Part 7
Alex Planes is the CEO of FoundEdge, a content marketing agency. He has worked with some of the world's largest brands and has published or syndicated thousands of articles in The Motley Fool, Business Insider, USA Today, the BBC, Fox Business, and elsewhere.
Alex leads all content strategy and development for Blue Chip Sports Management and has been integral in developing BCSM's market authority through content creation.
Club Management Mastery
A Full-Spectrum Guide to Building Better Fitness Facilities
You need to hire great people. Do you know how to start?
Many health club owners and leaders will turn to their existing personal and professional networks to get referrals for prospective hires. This can work if you have a massive local professional network and a clear understanding of the kind of employee you need.
However, fishing for new hires by posting a request on Facebook or LinkedIn comes with its own drawbacks.
Your Facebook friends (or their friends) might expect nepotism to overcome a skills deficit to help them land a do-nothing job at your club. LinkedIn, which few club leaders seem to use with any regularity, is more often a place to find unsolicited pitches for irrelevant B2B services than it is to get quality referrals for health club talent.
Either way, you’re likely to hamstring your hiring process by not handling it in a formalized way -- and a social media post that says “we need a new personal trainer at Health Club X, send resumes to myname at healthclub dot com” is anything but formalized. You can still post about job openings, but you should still manage your hiring process through a dedicated service. “We need a new personal trainer at Health Club X, and you can find the details at this link” would be a better way to approach recruiting on social media.
The more people you’ll need to hire, the more important it’ll be to use a good hiring or recruiting app. We’ve often found that the more experience and/or qualifications a position demands, the fewer qualified applicants it’ll get.
If you’re hiring for an entry-level role, you might get 100 or 200 applications. If you’re looking for a new director of personal training, you might only get a dozen resumes that come close to meeting your needs. You might still get 100 applications for the director's role, but the others won’t have the experience or qualifications you’re looking for.
Using an applicant tracking system (ATS) can be tremendously helpful at filtering out unqualified applicants. A good ATS will save you and/or your hiring manager a lot of time that you might otherwise have spent on looking at people who have no chance of getting the job.
Recruiting systems typically include an ATS as one of their core features. Another common core feature is the ability to post your job openings to multiple public job boards. Many of the large job boards have their own recruiting systems, but these tend to be optimized for that particular portal rather than to get your posting in front of as many prospects as possible.
If you want to use one hiring portal for the entire process, we usually recommend Indeed, which is by far the most popular job board in the United States (and in many other countries as well).
Indeed can get your open position in front of tons of prospects, and it allows you to conduct applicant skill assessments to further filter candidates before you schedule any interviews. You can post a job on Indeed for free, but few people will see it if you don’t “sponsor” your post for increased visibility. This works somewhat like a paid ad on Facebook or Twitter, as you’ll pay for more daily views and clicks than you’d get with a free post.
You can do the same thing on LinkedIn, but it’s been my experience that most health club job postings will get more attention on Indeed than they will on LinkedIn. You can use both if you want to reach a wider audience.
Recruiting systems, on the other hand, can help you automatically post your open job to numerous job boards, including Indeed and Linkedin, as well as others. Many of them also help you manage any pay-per-click arrangements with those job boards to get more applicants looking at those posts as well.
Health clubs that want a consistent brand across their entire operation often use a recruiting system to create a dedicated and branded “careers” page. This page can either work directly on your website or be linked from it, but either way, it can help to have a customized hiring portal accessible on your website, to lure in any potential candidates.
Here are some of the most popular recruiting systems and apps:
WorkBright (for high-volume hiring)
Fountain (for high-volume hiring)
Many recruiting systems have built out functionality to make things easier after you’ve hired someone as well as before, with onboarding portals to standardize and polish your new-hire training process.
Before you can onboard, you need to find your next hires. To do so, you’ve got to stand out in a crowded field of potential employers, and in the next section, we’ll look at how you can write a great job post, and how to effectively filter out applicants to uncover the best of the bunch.
20: Creating a Job Post that Gets Noticed
It’s hard to find great people to work for your health club. This is true if you’re the only club in town or one of dozens in a packed urban area.
Today’s employment seekers have more choices than ever before. They can find thousands of open jobs with a few keystrokes, and unless they know exactly what they want to do, and for which company they’d like to do it, they could spend days or weeks sifting through a mountain of opportunities.
To attract the best talent, you need to start with the best possible job posting.
A great job posting will be easily discoverable (often because you’ve paid to promote it, which we discussed in the previous section), easily understood, and extremely compelling to the type of person you’d love to place into the role.
Creating a great job posting involves more than listing a title and a basic list of qualifications. Making your post discoverable requires a basic understanding of search engines, because nearly every applicant will find that post by searching on Google, Indeed, or other job boards.
Follow these “Ten Commandments” to create easily searchable job postings, according to employment marketplace ZipRecruiter:
Use the right keywords (think about what searchers look for)
Make the job/position title the first word(s) of your post title
Try using modifiers (your location, positive descriptors) in your titles
Avoid using special characters in your title or description
Use spaces between words and separating characters (like - this)
Make sure the content of your post reads well and looks clean
Use clear and straightforward language
Don’t create duplicate posts for the same job
Consider your club’s location and potential travel time for employees
Test and modify your postings (change titles, structure, etc.)
Once your posting has been found, you’ve still got to spark the interest of prospective applicants so they’ll send in their resumes. Good writing, with compelling hooks and clearly-stated benefits for the lucky hire, can make a midsize health club seem like a world-class organization.
One critical tip to write a good job posting is to write it with mobile readers in mind. Mobile screens are small and can display far less text than computers. Use plenty of paragraph breaks and other visual cues, like bullet lists and text formatting (bold or italics), to make your post easier to read. Try to keep your sentences short and easy to understand.
If you don’t feel confident in your ability to write a solid job post, you can hire a copywriter, or you can start with a template. You can download easy-to-use job posting templates from Betterteam, a simplified recruiting system for small businesses that automates the posting of your job openings to over 100 of the top job boards.
Betterteam offers further advice to help you create a great job posting:
Lead with a compelling introduction (tell prospects why it’s a great opportunity)
Provide details about your club (why should prospects choose you over others?)
Focus on benefits / advantages (pay, team culture, club location, career growth, etc.)
List only position-critical requirements (don’t ask for 10 bullet points of experience)
Sell your club’s location (particularly for higher-value roles that may be harder to fill)
Tell prospects why they should apply (sell the job a second time)
Define your application and hiring process (set everyone’s expectations upfront)
Get others to read your posting before submitting it
Don’t neglect post-application communications!
Do your research (the Betterteam template page has a wealth of information) before creating your job posts, and you’ll be much more likely to attract the type of talent you really need to build a thriving health club.
Your competitors are a great source of information as well when you’re putting a job post together. Look around on Indeed and other job boards for posts by other health clubs. Read them carefully. Think about whether they’d compel you to apply if you were looking for the sort of job they’re advertising. Think about what parts of the posting might have turned you off about the opportunity, and avoid making the same mistake in your own post.
If you’ve put together a great job post, you’re already ahead of most health clubs in the hiring game. But hiring is just the first step towards building a successful team.
In the next few sections, we’ll focus more on the art of health club leadership. Great leadership begins by giving every new employee a memorable and confidence-boosting introduction to your club on day one. That’s where onboarding comes in, but it’s just the start…
21: Onboarding Your New Employees
Every employee -- no matter how experienced or talented they might be on day one -- still needs a proper introduction to your club, its processes, and its policies to become a true part of your team. Throwing them out on the floor with no guidance or training is a surefire recipe for failure.
That’s why we have onboarding.
A good employee onboarding system will familiarize everyone on your payroll with your health club’s operating policies, its software systems, and the way it communicates its branding to members and prospects. The goal of effective employee onboarding should be to get everyone aligned in the same direction: towards greater and more durable success for your facility.
Implementing effective onboarding practices is one of the best and lowest-cost ways to improve employee retention and reduce turnover. Simply giving your new hires the tools and training they need to succeed within your facility’s operational structure can go a long way towards forming a bond between your employees and your club.
It should be self-evident that a well-trained and properly acclimated employee is a better employee, and yet few companies in any industry give new hires a good onboarding experience.
In fact, nearly nine in ten employees will say their employer had a poor and/or inadequate onboarding process in place when they joined. This not only has the potential to cause issues in the day-to-day management of your facility, it can also make it harder to recruit talented new employees in the future, as one in five new hires wouldn’t recommend their employer to friends and family if the onboarding process is poor.
As we learned in our hiring process module, some recruiting software will come bundled with onboarding tools, which can streamline the entire process from creating a job post to sending a confident and capable employee out onto the club floor.
You can use onboarding software to educate your new hires in the use of other software systems, such as time-tracking tools and member management systems. Onboarding software is also a useful way to standardize the presentation of your facility’s brand guidelines.
You can even start onboarding before an employee begins their first day with your club with an automated pre-boarding sequence. This pre-boarding can collect simple but critical information, like the employee’s contact information, address, and bank information for direct deposits. It can also incorporate some of the training discussed below, to familiarize new hires with your club, its brand, and its leadership team before they begin work.
If employees should answer the phone or interact with members in a certain way, or dress according to certain prescribed styles, onboarding software can walk your new hires through these things the same way every time. You can also use your new hires’ time with onboarding software to teach them some of your brand’s backstory, which can build a closer bond between employees and their new club.
Every new hire, regardless of seniority, can go through the same foundational onboarding processes to familiarize them with your club, its brand, and its operating styles and systems. However, onboarding software alone isn’t going to be enough to thoroughly educate new employees for their particular roles.
That’s why each new hire should go through a period of shadowing, which simply has them follow an experienced employee in the same role (or a senior employee familiar with that role) as they go about their work. If you’re overseeing the opening of a brand-new club, you may need to simulate this process and provide hands-on training yourself until the facility is more established.
The duration and intensity of a shadowing period will vary by role, and it’s likely to vary by each new hire’s previous experience in their role as well. A front desk attendant who’s never used your member management software is likely to need a bit more time to watch experienced employees do their jobs than one who already knows all the ins and outs.
Similarly, a personal trainer or group exercise coach with years of experience may not need much help beyond a basic introduction to your club’s systems and brand style. On the other hand, a trainer who’s only recently received their certification may need to shadow veteran trainers for several weeks to master the training style for which your club is known.
Every trainer has their own personality and training preferences, but within the walls of a single health club, they should all use an identifiable approach. If you’re running a CrossFit box, your trainers probably shouldn’t focus on training styles for long-distance running. If you offer sport-specific training, you should ensure every trainer understands the fundamental training approach for those specific sports.
Regardless of role, it’s also important to give each new hire some face-to-face time with their direct manager from the start. Seven in ten employees point to this time with their managers as the single most important part of their onboarding experience. Your new hires should be able to trust their manager and feel comfortable coming to them with questions, concerns, and ideas to improve their work and/or the member experience.
If this seems overwhelming (and it very well might), you may want to look into hiring an outside specialist to help you set up your onboarding systems and processes. This probably won’t be cheap, but it should pay dividends over the long term if you can offer a stronger, more standardized, and more comprehensive onboarding to your new hires.
Once your employees have been onboarded, they’ll need to be managed. If you’re reading this, you probably already have a great deal of management responsibility in your club.
In the next sections, we’ll cover some proven approaches to management, which can help you build a more unified team, improve employee engagement and retention, and even strengthen your club’s brand in the community.
Next month: Part 8