I used to be a morning person, but I’m not anymore. I’m not a night person, either. I go to bed at a respectable hour and I get plenty of sleep. Still, somehow I manage to sleep walk through a typical day until about 11 a.m. or so. However, today I felt inspired to get up early (that means 6:15 a.m. to me) and get in a workout. I mean, come on, there’s a health and fitness convention going on 18 floors below my room!
My body seemed to respond pretty well to this change of plans (I usually work out in the afternoons and evenings). However, my body (and mind) was not prepared for being locked out of my room. I’ve had card key issues since I’ve been here but this morning I was locked out completely. Four service providers and an hour later, I finally regained access to my temporary abode.
I could go off on a poor customer service tirade here, but I’m not going to. I myself worked in the hospitality industry for a few years, so I probably hold these good people who mangled my experience this morning to a higher standard than other people would. However, I am going to share with you a story about good management practices and how it ties in to the IDEA World Fitness Convention.
While I was trapped outside my room, IDEA’s co-founder and CEO Peter Davis (and my employer of almost 7 years) walked by. I shared with Peter what was going on and he responded with immediate concern. He offered me several solutions that I hadn’t considered in my stressed out state. He showed compassion. He offered support and demonstrated leadership.
This isn’t the first time Peter has come to my rescue. About 6 years ago I participated in a voluntary company team-building boot camp on a Saturday. I lost my car keys on the obstacle course. Since the course was on a military base, I was not allowed to go out on the field and look for them. I was pretty distraught. Everyone else left, but Peter stayed behind. He sat with me for a good 2-3 hours and helped me come up with a solution to get back into my car. He did not have to do this—I was the numbskull who lost my keys on the obstacle course. You see, IDEA Health & Fitness Association is more than an association for health, fitness and wellness professionals. It’s a family of hard-working individuals who truly care about the experience our customers have. This attitude starts at the top and trickles down.
My manager’s manager, Peter, had a vested interest in making sure I was safe and taken care of. I don’t know about you, but this was above and beyond behavior that I had never experienced at any other place I’d worked. The experience of being cared about stuck with me. On several occasions since this happened, I’ve found myself wanting to do the same not only with co-workers, but also (and especially) with IDEA members.
You know when you hear a word or learn a new concept and then you see it everywhere? That’s what happened after I finally got ready and started my work day. The first session I attended, “It’s Harder Than You Think! The Job of a Successful Fitness Manager” presented by Bob Esquerre, MA, echoed my experience with Peter. Esquerre challenged attendees, who were fitness facility directors and managers, to up the ante with their staff. “Don’t just talk about how great your management skills are, show them,” he said. An attendee interjected with this statement: “I want my employees to be better than I am.”
A lot of managers let their employees “sleep walk” through their days. As long as the work gets done, what does it matter if John feels disempowered to make a decision when a member asks him a question? Mary hits her numbers on a regular basis, so why bother checking in to see if there are things you could do together to help bump the 20% penetration rate in your facility to 50% or higher?
Good customer service and retention strategies start at the pinnacle. The goodness flows out and down and creates rivulets that matter to the bottom line. Happy employees know they can go to you when they “lock themselves out” and you, as a manager, will help them come up with solutions. Could you also throw in an extra ounce of care, just for good measure? In this case, an ounce is pretty heavy and can make quite an indentation.