So much business education in the fitness industry focuses on the hustle of sales and marketing topics. Make no mistake, you’ve got to hustle if you want to grow, but that hustle can also burn you out and become physically and emotionally exhausting over time.
Which is why building a team is so important to ensure your long-term success. If you don’t get a team in place, it’s just a matter of time before you’re the trainer, the admin, the salesperson, the handyman, and the janitor working 80+ hours a week. That kind of lifestyle isn’t sustainable and your business will more than likely stop growing because you’re trying to do too many things (and you’re not doing any of them well!).
You MUST build a team that will grow your business with you.
But just winging it through the hiring process can cost you a lot of time, money, and potentially even clients.
Here are 10 steps to follow if you’re ready to grow beyond yourself, create some leverage in your business, and start enjoying the freedom you’ve been waiting for.
Step #1: Shift Your Mindset
A lot of fitness business owners have a negative mindset about employees. They see them as a liability and have thoughts like these:
- “Nobody can do the work as well as I can.”
- “These people are going to drag me down.”
- “I really care about my clients so I have to do it all.”
- “I don’t have time to train anyone.”
These mindsets are limiting your growth. What if you get sick? Or need personal time? Or want to take a vacation?
In the short term, hiring (and training) does require an investment of your time and energy, but without that investment, you’ll get stuck in your business and eventually start backsliding. In order to grow beyond where you (and your company) are today, you must let these mindsets go and start seeing how employees can be one of your greatest assets.
Step #2: Define Your Core Values, Purpose, and Mission
If you don’t have these three things locked down before you start building a team, you won’t be able to get the right candidates to buy into your vision.
- Core Values: WHAT you stand for.
- Purpose: WHY you do what you do.
- Mission: WHERE you’re going (and WHEN you’re going to get there).
These three components are the framework for sustainable success in business (and life). If a candidate doesn’t identify with your core values, purpose, or mission, they’re not the right fit. Keep looking – you’ll find someone who does.
Step #3: Attract “A-Players”
Just like in marketing, you have to give candidates a reason to visit your career page.
You must nail down the message, market, and media:
- The Message: Understand the kind of opportunity that your ideal candidate is looking for and what they’re going to respond to.
- The Market: Identify the caliber of candidates that you’re looking for.
- The Media: Know how to connect your message to those prospective staff members.
Step #4: Write a Sales Letter for Your Position
Having a laundry list of items on a job post isn’t going to get a lot of attention and it’s definitely not going to attract the kind of “A-Players” that you want in your business.
- The most effective job postings should include:
- The purpose behind the work you do – your company’s WHY.
- An overview of the product and services you offer, and how this particular role will support your company’s mission.
- What the role’s responsibilities are.
- What skills and experience are needed.
Step #5: Find the Right People in the Right Places
So where do you find “A-Players” and how do you connect your message to the right market?
- Your Community: This includes people you know such as friends, current clients, people you’re connected to on social media, etc.
- Professional Organizations: For example, you can look at the certifying body that you achieved your certification from. Many often have job boards or networking opportunities where you can identify the right candidates.
- Local Colleges and Universities: If they have exercise physiology or similar programs, this is a great resource for recruitment. Students are often looking for internship opportunities, which can give you the opportunity to develop them into a full-time trainer or coach.
- Websites: Simply Hired, Monster, and Indeed are great ways to reach out to qualified candidates who you might not have otherwise met.
Step #6: Follow the Hiring Process
Your hiring process must be simple and easy to manage while still being thorough enough to deliver the right candidates to the finish line. If it’s too difficult or complicated, you won’t get people. And if it’s not thorough enough, you’ll get the wrong people in the door.
Here’s what the hiring process should include:
The purpose of the application is to answer these questions: Does the candidate meet the basic requirements, skills, and experience? Is their background a good fit for you
How do they conduct themselves on the phone? How articulate are they? How well do they communicate? Ultimately, do you get a sense that their core values align with yours?
You want to determine if the candidate can actually do the job they’re applying for. If they’re going to be trainer or a coach, a testing evaluation would be to have them on the floor interacting with clients.
Assuming the candidate passes testing and evaluation, move on to the final interview. This is your opportunity to directly address issues or concerns that may have come up during the hiring process and to do a final assessment of core value fit and vision alignment (remember, these things can’t be taught!).
The Hiring Decision
NEVER make a hiring decision on the spot. Why? Because there are always emotions involved during an interview and it’s not a good idea to make a decision based solely on emotions.
Step #7: Determine Staff Compensation
You’ve got to decide whether you’re going to pay your staff an hourly wage or put them on a fixed salary. You can also have some combination of the above options with potential commission opportunities for sales.
Here’s the most important thing when it comes to compensation: Don’t forget your margins! It’s very easy to overpay trainers and admins. But remember, it doesn’t matter what you wish you had gotten paid when you were working for someone else. You’re a business owner now, and if you overpay your staff, it’s just a matter of time before your business starts backsliding.
Step #8: Staff Training and Onboarding
It’s crucial to set up new hires for success from day one. There’s nothing more frustrating than for a new staff member to come into your business and have no idea what they should be doing.
Here’s what you should include as you develop staff training:
- Administrative: Email, software systems you use, opening and closing procedures, etc.
- Core Training: Company’s purpose, mission, core values, etc.
- Role Specific Training: Coaches, admins, etc.
Remember, training doesn't stop once you've finished the onboarding process – it never stops! You should be developing your staff all the time so they can continue to grow with your business.
Step #9: Help Your Team Communicate
One of the best ways for your team to understand each other is through a color personality test, like the one described by George Boelcke in his book Colorful Personalities: Discover Your Personality Type Through the Power of Colors (2005). You can administer this simple test during the hiring process or during onboarding.
The test will reveal the main temperaments people possess, as well as how to deal with their strengths and weaknesses. As a business owner, this will help you understand your employees (and help them understand each other!), leading to a more productive work environment.
Step #10: Hire Slow, Fire Fast
The hiring process is one of the most important processes you will implement in your business.
Take your time to decide who you want to bring into your business, but if you realize that you have a bad hire, DON’T keep them around. It will cost you time, money, and potentially current clients or staff members. There’s no room for B-Players on an A-Team. Always have people in your recruiting pipeline so if you have to let someone go, it won’t take long to find someone else who’s a better fit.
Growing a team is a big investment in time, money, and resources, which is why most fail in tackling the challenge to grow to the next level of business ownership, but if you’re willing to put in the work, and overcome the obstacles you’ll face along the way, an incredible team will give you freedom as a fitness business owner.
The only way to the other side is to continue growing through it. Working crazy hours and doing it all yourself is not sustainable long term. Follow these 10 steps to hire a team of “A Players” that will help you accomplish a greater mission than you ever thought possible!
Boelcke, G. J. (2005). Colorful personalities: Discover your personality type through the power of colors. Houston, TX: Vantage Publishing.