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Money Follows People
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Managing Through and With People is the Way to Dependable Profit and Growth
By Donald DeMars
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It has been said, "Things do not happen in this world; they are brought
about by people." The same can be said of club profitability. A decade of
new leaders in management have discovered that, in effective organizations,
managers are visible and interact with those who really make things
happen. And those who really make things happen are people, period.

Since people make the difference, one might conclude that all you have to
do is attract the best, then watch things happen. That’s part of it, but there
is more.

On a visit to the Park Center Club, a club our organization manages in
Boise, Idaho, Roy Musgrove, president of Donald DeMars Associates,
veered from the main path, strolled over to the corner and picked up a
small wrapper. Why? He said that the signs of a quality club are symbolic.
It is a matter of cleanliness, having the towels stacked with precision and
symmetry; it is care, greeting the customer with a smile, and simply saying,
"thank you." This attitude may be the goal of the company, but more
importantly, it must be the goal of the people who make up the company if
it is to contribute greatly to profits.

A work ethic that is truly people-oriented is characterized by an attitude,
overall philosophy and infectious enthusiasm in both employees and
customers that is manifested in club performance.

As more clubs are strictly peddling "lower, commodity-type fees," it is
service and people that make the difference. Loyal employees foster loyal
members, and it is this very brand of loyalty that keeps the members happy
and club profitable. Money follows people. Do a good job of meeting the
needs of people, and the money will follow as a matter of course.

What really distinguishes this new mind-set in employees is participatory
management. No matter how good a senior manager’s ideas are, or how
good he or she is in selling them to others, to be implemented effectively
they must pass through the people in the line of delegation. Every person
has an infinite potential for creativity and for working toward the
achievement of management’s goals of which they too have assumed
"ownership."

Tapping these untapped reserves is the key to successful management.
Although we are not equal in intelligence, energy level, physical health,
talent or motivation, a successful club manager will identify, nurture,
stimulate and cultivate the hidden "people potential" in his organization. He
will do this by fostering a desire in each person to succeed and achieve self-
fulfillment through their own work for the best interests of the organization.

Corporate "cultivation" involves, among other things:

Selecting the proper personnel for each job and maintaining each
person in the job that fits his/her interest, capabilities and desires.

Organizing the club into departments or management areas
responsible for their own profit and expenses.

Training and development consistency.

Setting objectives for the individual and for the team.

Establishing accountability and internal monitoring of each profit
center.

Recognition and rewards.

A climate conducive to growing and winning.

Fortunately, this not only is possible, it is profitable!

Once the staff is of one mind, synergistically pulling together and working
as a team, the customer or member will come into clear focus. "Cultivating"
a customer is always good business. Staff members should handle each
transaction with each customer as if they will have to live with that person
in a small room for the rest of their lives. The customer will be pleased and
the business will benefit: a "win-win" situation.

Developing a club atmosphere of this nature requires a number of
characteristics and values that the entire team must inevitably "buy into."
These may include:

Openness - "Keep no secretes from the staff" is an excellent starting point
for every manager. And this includes financial statements. Every staff
manager must be allowed to participate in the goals, methods and results of
the firm. The financial statement is simply a report card on how each team
member affected the success and failures.

Honesty and integrity - "Telling it like it is" and being willing to wear a thick
skin during team discussions on accountability is healthy. No one should be
afraid of the truth if it is discussed in a fair and caring way.

Education - "A willingness to learn and grow" is a prerequisite for manager
and team members. Everyone must understand accounting statements and
procedures. Everyone must understand the process of business, be willing
to accept their own shortcomings, and be willing to hunt for better
answers. This will lead to pride in the company’s success.

Feedback - "Keeping a constant eye on the scorecard" through frequent
and timely evaluations is crucial. Financial statements should be reviewed
monthly at a regular time in the first 10 days of the month. Activities should
be reviewed by revenue cost and member volume within three days of the
activity, and the results should be kept in writing; a tangible scorecard will
produce the most lasting results.

It is hard to deny that health and fitness clubs have available to them a
great deal of highly sophisticated equipment and technical management
systems for solving their specific business problems. But the one factor is
common to every one of these clubs: the human resources required to
accomplish profitability, in the final analysis, will indeed determine the
success of the venture.

Develop a system with your people, then let them work it. Help them
measure the results. Help them make their own adjustments. Then send
them back to their own challenges and, finally, toast their successes.

Security is achieved in the club business only through positive cash flow
and higher profits. This will come from a happier and more productive
work force and satisfied customers.
For more information about
Donald DeMars International, Inc.,
email us at
donald@donalddemars.com
All contents contained herein,
Copyright ©2003 by Donald DeMars International, Inc.