Think back to the moment you decided to open your gym. Maybe you envisioned a building full of happy, long-term clients and days of fulfilling training. You probably did not dream of writing an operations manual.
It might just be one of the most helpful - and least glamorous - tool to have in your arsenal. It’s the resource you never knew you absolutely needed but that you’ll use time and time again.
Think of it this way: If your mission statement is the guiding light for your business, then your operations manual is the brand success playbook. It’s the outline for all processes and procedures, designed to help you and your staff solve any problem. With it, you’ll establish the standards by which success will be measured.
Today, we’re looking at the ten most important things to include in your operations manual:
1. The Mission Statement.
Planning without purpose is a wasted endeavor. When making decisions, you and your staff should always be able to refer to your mission statement. It should be simple to understand, and clearly indicate the vision and core values of your business. Your team should not only be aware of what it says, but they should align with its content.
2. Daily Procedures.
Business operations run on the client and athlete schedules. Therefore, the flow into and out of your facility varies greatly each day. Your operations manual should include detailed procedures on how to open, operate and close the facility each day.
Be sure to include unexpected events as well, like inclement weather or a coach being out sick. What is your backup plan? How will you communicate this to members?
3. Job Descriptions, Expectations and Entitlements.
This section of your operations manual is the outline for a successful relationship with your staff. Remember, your team will handle things the way they personally see fit, unless you clearly direct them otherwise.
Give your staff clarity about the role they play in the business’ success. There’s a lot of freedom that can live inside of pre-established roles. Outlining the roles and responsibilities of each team member allows everyone’s personality to shine differently within set standards.
This is a great opportunity for you to empower your employees and push them to be their best. Be sure to include your plans for performance evaluations and growth opportunities. This gets your team involved and invested in the success of your business.
4. Uniform And Code of Conduct.
When it comes to attire and behavior, whatever you don't include in the manual leaves room for interpretation. And in a business where we earn the respect of our members, your code of conduct section is imperative.
Here are a few things that you want to ensure you address in this section: What apparel should be worn (and not worn) on the gym floor? What are your personal grooming and hygiene standards? Are there specific rules for cell phone use? And of course, NO EATING ON THE GYM FLOOR.
5. Sales Procedures.
In order for your gym to grow, having a well-thought-out, professional sales plan is imperative. Every lead should be meticulously guided through the sales funnel so that no one slips through the cracks.
Pro Tip: Automate the journey for your leads, from their first website visit to the start of their membership! Book a demo with the PushPress Grow team today to find out how.
Here are a few things to include in the sales plan section of your operations manual: How will you handle incoming calls? Is there an intake session or goal-setting interview? If so, who will the lead meet with for that? How will you show leads the value of gym membership, making it impossible to decline? How will you overcome possible objections? Is your sales process aimed at signing them up for a membership, starting with personal training, etc.?
6. Membership Management.
As a follow-up to the sales procedures, your staff should also know how to handle all aspects of member management. The expectation should be minding the value of each member of your gym.
In this section of the operations manual, outline everything that happens after a lead becomes a member. You and/or your staff should know how to help members with the basics. These include things like changing their plan, freezing their membership, buying apparel, etc. Make a list of the most common requests and how you’ll handle each one.
This section should also include expectations on scheduling follow-ups with members for goal review and increasing the value of membership. This way you are able to hold gym members accountable, and staff as well.
7. Required Studio Maintenance and Repairs.
One of the most basic requirements of gym ownership is providing a clean, safe environment. Toilets need to be cleaned, soap needs to be provided. And no one should ever have to do burpees into a pile of dog hair, no matter how cute the dog is.
Create a consistent cleaning schedule and assign people to each task. Whether your staff works together to complete the tasks or you hire a cleaning crew, this is a non-negotiable area for your operations manual.
If equipment breaks, fix or replace it. Prioritize safety, and remember that you’re showing members the value of their investment with well-maintained equipment.
8. Brand Development And Retail Sales.
What you offer in your facility is more than just fitness and health. Members often attach themselves to your brand or define a part of themselves through your gym. You’re changing their life for the better and they want to support that.
Create a plan for selling products that support those choices. From the brand of energy drinks in your fridge to your apparel selection, be intentional with the options you offer. For instance, as a health facility, do you really want to offer an energy drink that’s packed with sugar? If your members are going to rep your gear, do you want the absolute cheapest quality or will you choose comfort for them? Think through each option and how it aligns with your vision, brand and goals.
9. Marketing Strategy.
The growth and success of your gym depends on people knowing that it exists. Take the time to carefully craft a comprehensive marketing strategy. It may take time over the years to put various tactics through trial and error, but continue refining it as you go.
From hosting events to social media to digital advertising, there’s an endless number of options to spread the word about your fitness business. One of the most tried-and-true tactics is word-of-mouth. Create a strong referral program and watch your member retention soar.
10. A Troubleshooting Plan.
Your staff should always know what to do if the internet, power or any other emergency should occur. Remember, your staff needs to be self sufficient in your absence.
The trouble-shooting section of your operations manual should include all the passwords, phone numbers and landlord details. Be sure to list the proper procedure for evacuation of the facility in the case of the unexpected. Careful planning and strategic thinking will leave no room for excuses when and if the the time comes to act.
In Summary: Start With An Operations Manual
Whether you’re exploring the possibility of opening a gym or you’ve been in business for years, it’s time for an operations manual check. Use the list of ten items above to create an outline for the successful operations of your business. From your mission statement to your troubleshooting plan, it’s crucial that you’re prepared. Spending the proper time on this document will help you scale, refine and succeed.