A Life Well Lived is about each Moment in Life. Just like life moments, success is a matter of each detail. Vision and Strategy are critical to success, but it’s the execution of operational and logistic details that win the day. In our business of member experience, safety, results and delivering service excellence, mastering the details is the difference between well-intentioned and actual stellar outcomes. I’d like to share some of the details that may seem individually small in nature but have a great combined impact on being excellent. The great news is this approach doesn’t cost anything (or very little) to implement. It does, however, require your commitment to being great at delivering the best experience for your members.
“If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves. You can gain control of your life by paying closer attention to the little things.”
–Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”
–William H. McRaven, Admiral, USN
“You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.”
–General Dwight D. Eisenhower
I’d like to share some of my thoughts on “Little Big Things” that I believe matter. As I tour clubs, gyms, corporate fitness centers, medical wellness centers, studios, community centers and just about every other type of model one can imagine, one thing that stands out is the attention paid to the details and what some may consider small things, if not trivial items. These observations are from my own sites and just about every other site imaginable, as I have toured many hundreds of clubs in my travels. And for the record, I have been ridiculed for some of my non-negotiable idiocentric items, such as pushpins on bulletin boards, but I’m convinced that collectively managing these things has a big impact on a club’s success and brand position.
In an extreme example: If you are on an airline flight and you encounter a broken seat tray, no paper towels in the restroom, a dirty cabin and a disheveled crew, one may wonder, “Are the mechanics lacking in attention to detail as well?” This may sound extreme, but confidence is built on the details. Excellence is evaluated on a litany of factors including one’s experience and one’s observations. Many of the “feelings” one has are based on a “gut” or subconscious impression that someone may not even be able to articulate or answer on a survey. Trust is built on character and competency. Both matter. And, the details show your character and your competency. A team that takes the details seriously and is uncompromising typically has more pride, cohesion, enthusiasm and much better results. At the end of the day, for you and I, our goal should be to have a solid strategy and approach around the details and a balanced team with enough of these traits in the right mix: Producers (Results), Administrators (Details), Entrepreneurs (Creative Thinking) and Integrators (People).
There are many common examples (actually themes) in fitness sites, domestically and internationally, that I have witnessed first-hand time and time again across all sectors, geographies and countries over many years. I will share a summary “cheat sheet” list of some of the big small things I see time and time again. The majority tends to fall into
- A. Is the facility in Ready Position – Ready for use and presenting at its best?
- B. Are the exercise “toys,” mats, balls, bands, slam-bags and weights all put back and ready for the next session? Is everything ready to go again (Group Fitness Studio Spaces, The Fitness Floor and Functional Training Areas)?
- C. Are the stereo areas in studios neatly organized and free of debris and handwritten signage?
- D. Do all bikes in dedicated Cycle Studios and all Reformers in dedicated Pilates studios have towels neatly placed on each piece of equipment?
- E. Are towels tri-folded with band facing out, neatly stacked looking how a resort would display in look and feel (and free of tears and stains)?
- F. Are all Food and Beverage items front-facing and appealing for consumer purchase?
- G. Is all upholstery clean and free from tears?
- H. Are all electrical cords hidden, tied and managed as neatly as possible?
2. Staff Appearance:
- A. Is the staff in uniform with nametag on, looking sharp and ready to be of service?
- B. Are they standing at the front desk ready to be of service? (Not sitting, an unacceptable practice I’m seeing more and more of at non-typical commercial fitness facilities)
- C. Are they exemplifying “eyes and teeth,” looking at members and prospects within five feet of member range with approachability, eye contact and smiling?
- D. Are staff and office areas treated the same in professionalism as member accessible or public areas? (This builds culture and pride)
- A. Are the internal signs clean, clear, professionally displayed with topic/purpose of the sign as the header?
- B. Have you eliminated the use of “Attention Members and Guests” (It’s obvious those are the ones reading the signs) and “Thank You, Management” (It’s obvious management is probably the ones putting up signage? Also eliminating the “Thank You!” after a notice, or worse, a policing command as that is somewhat obnoxious.
- C. Are signs that are meant to be permanent displayed as permanent or temporary? (If it’s permanent, make it so.)
- D. Are flyers and signage clean and not “copies of copies?” (Always copy from originals)
- E. If you use pushpins or thumbtacks, are they all the same type and color? Do you have flyers positioned with no tape (tape from behind when needed), staples or tape residue showing? Do you have a background material (felt or solid one sheet of paper) covering the corkboard? (If keeping corkboard visible, make sure it is in good condition and presents cleanly.)
- A. Are all the “controllable” items that can be controlled by the site team up to par? (This requires a culture of excellence and team commitment as this will require everyone to do whatever is necessary to ensure a great member experience and facility presentation). “Not my job” will kill this outcome.
- B. Are all cleaning supplies (mops, buckets, safety floor signage, cleaners, rags, etc.) stored out of sight when not in use? (If not, this is a sign of laziness; I will use it again in a couple of hours, so let me leave it out for my convenience. Don’t be tempted to do this; always think about member perception at any given moment). For those of you that like 4- or 5-star hotels, you will never see cleaning supplies stored in public view.
- C. Are Food and Beverage (non-displayed) inventory, packages and other random items stored out of public view?
- D. Are doorstops used as doorstops instead of weights, dumbbells, rocks or anything else convenient? (Buy some Rubbermaid wedge doorstops in various sizes and quit using other items that may even become trip hazards.)
- E. Is the club not only clean but “detailed clean?” (Think about washing your car versus detailing your car.)
- F. Are all “out of order” signage clean, evenly mounted and containing a return to service date?
- G. Are the inside of the lockers, courtesy phones and the scales clean? (Often overlooked on a daily basis and members see daily.)
- H. Are towel drops designed to be towel drops (silver wire hampers are a good choice), instead of trashcans with a laminated sign that says, “Dirty Towels?”
- I. Are laundry carts (clean or dirty towels) out of public view?
- J. If you have carpet “strings” in areas of worn carpet, do you trim them regularly to minimize an unkempt appearance? (Assuming carpet replacement isn’t immediately an option.)
- K. Are wet area and locker room mats perfect and matching?
• • •
This is but a partial list of small and big things that have a great combined impact. I have focused on basic staff presentation and detailed facility presentation in this article. I realize there are a lot more things that go into the member experience, but I promise you, mastering these fundamentals sets a foundation. You only get one chance to make a first impression. And, when something goes wrong with a member relationship, as it sometimes does, the member will look at all other things to rationalize your lack of character and/or your lack of competency.
Let’s be our best always!