Your coaching team is one of the most valuable assets your gym has to offer. A solid coaching team can increase everything from revenue to member retention. But it takes time and effort to build the right team. And retaining coaches is as important as retaining members when it comes to gym growth.
Sometimes the struggle is real: Just when it seems like a coach gets up to speed and your team is a well-oiled machine, something happens. Your coach moves to a new city or they decide to go back to school.
For a number of reasons, retaining coaches can be challenging. Some believe that coaching is a “young man’s game,” or something you do in your twenties for a few years. Others know that without the right setup, coaching isn’t always lucrative. It’s tough to earn a professional wage by only coaching group classes.
Sometimes burnout is a factor. Or, since most coaches are part-time, they often have a second job. If circumstances change, so does their availability.
So building a team with the potential to last a decade is difficult, but not impossible. And you can maximize the chance of success with a few important puzzle pieces.
Five Tips To Keep Coaches Long Term.
We sat down with Matt DellaValle, Chief Fitness Officer for NCFIT, a brand that has partner gyms all over the world. On the topic of retaining coaches, DellaValle shared his five tips for a long-term, happy team:
1. Be Realistic.
It’s easy to assume that once a coach joins your team, they’ll be there for the long haul. Even though retaining your team is your priority, it doesn’t make it theirs.
DellaValle says the reality is that a goal of 100 percent is just setting yourself up for failure.
“Not everyone is going to stick around for the long-term,” he said. “You need to have realistic expectations of what your organization can provide and what the trajectory long-term would look like.”
He added, “Coaching isn’t for everyone forever and it’s okay to recognize that.”
2. Set Clear Expectations.
With that in mind, clarity is key. You have a better chance of retaining coaches long-term if everyone is clear about their role and responsibilities. DellaValle said it’s also important to cover the long-term possibilities.
“One of the problems I see is people who bring on staff who are misaligned in the expectation of what the individual is signing up for,” DellaValle said.
Simply put, you need to clarify expectations. Ensure you’re transparent about what the role entails and what success looks like. Discuss roadblocks and potential issues upfront so nothing takes either of you by surprise.
In addition, put everything in writing. From the written job description to coach handbooks, the more detailed the better. When everything is clearly outlined on paper, have coaches read and sign the documents.
“In the NCFIT organization, one thing I think we do a really good job of is, if somebody comes in to do a role with us, we are very explicit about what the role offers,” says DellaValle. “And what the (long-term) trajectory is currently, or what it could be.”
3. Check In Constantly.
In the same way that your goals, priorities and schedules change over time, so will your coach’s. Check in with the team regularly, just like you do with gym members. This way, retaining coaches is easier when you make sure they’re still fulfilled and enjoying their role.
As DellaValle says, this largely just comes down to “having constant conversation about where their continued desires are or where they’re at.” By being consistent with check-ins, you can make adjustments along the way.
Pro Tip: Use PushPress Grow to automate the process! Set up workflows to book a meeting with coaches on a regular basis to keep the conversation flowing. Book a demo with the Grow team today to find out more!
4. Make Challenges Routine.
When discussing ongoing challenges for coaches as a way to retain them, DellaValle quoted his friend Stu Brauer, owner of WTF Gym Talk. He said, “The first day they sign their contract is the day that they’re most excited to work in the organization.”
This explains the importance of providing ongoing challenges and opportunities for your coaches to grow and “do meaningful work,” DellaValle explained.
One way to do this is through continued education for coaches. Not only does it provide motivation and education, it helps with retaining coaches and can boost both revenue and retention for your gym.
In addition, consider expanding their role beyond coaching and into other areas they might be passionate about. This could be areas like programming, nutrition, running seminars or workshops, sports team training, marketing and sales, social media or event planning.
5. Provide Financial Opportunities.
Similarly, money talks. So if you’re looking to keep a coach for a decade or more, DellaValle recommends providing ample financial opportunities. He says compensating coaches “keeps them fulfilled in a way that is commensurate with the work that they’re doing.”
For many gyms, this looks like a revenue-based compensation plan. In this model, coaches are paid a percentage of revenue for any programs they help to launch. This is a win-win-win for the gym, the coach and the members. Nutrition and mindset coaching are often a great place to start.
In Summary: Play The Long Game For Retaining Coaches
Just like with membership, it’s much easier to keep a coach for the long run than it is to be consistently recruiting and hiring. Be realistic with your expectations and clearly outline the roles and responsibilities. Check in along the way, and provide plenty of challenges and financial opportunities for your team. If your coaches are motivated and fulfilled in their role, they’ll stick around for years to come.