Camaraderie: The Most Important Part of a Successful Training Facility

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Today, we continue with ‘Stache Bash 2010 with another huge sale and another devastatingly good-looking mustache – and a very important message for those of you who (like me) own your own training facilities or hope to open one someday.

First off, the huge sale is pretty simple: everything on THIS PAGE (all collaborative products from Robertson, Hartman, and I) is on sale at 20% off.  This includes Assess & Correct, Building the Efficient Athlete, the Single-Leg Solution, Bulletproof Knees, Magnificent Mobility, Inside-Out, and the Indianapolis Performance Enhancement Seminar DVD Set.  You don’t even have to enter a coupon code; you can just go purchase them all in one place, and the discount is already applied.

As for the mustache and the important message, check out this video of yesterday’s 4th Annual Cressey Performance Thanksgiving Day Lift, where we had about 30 people in attendance.  The horseshoe ‘stache (minus the soul patch) makes an appearance at the 26-second mark.

At risk of sounding overconfident, things have gone well for us at Cressey Performance since we opened our doors in 2007.  We’ve had double digit percentage growth in each of the past three years and the job seems to get more and more fun each and every day.  In the next two months, we’ll expand into an additional 1,000 square-feet.  I talked a lot about how we’ve attacked things to get to where we are in a previous blog post, Three Years of Cressey Performance: The Right Reasons and the Right Way.

One thing I’m not sure I’ve highlighted in my writing enough, though, is how important the camaraderie we have among our clientele is.  “Creating camaraderie” was never a bulletpointed objective in our business plan, but in hindsight, it was the single-most important factor in our gym not only “making it,” but thriving in an economy where loads of other gyms were closing their doors just about every day.

Each year, the Thanksgiving Day lift reminds me of that, as for me, Thanksgiving is all about family. In other words, if you’re going to spend a few hours with people on Thanksgiving morning (and get up ultra-early to do so on the morning after what is arguably the biggest partying night of the year), then you better enjoy the company of those people and see them as part of your extended family.  We had high school athletes, college athletes, professional athletes, weekend warriors, Moms and Dads, and former interns in to get after it from 7:30AM to 9:30AM – and it really meant a lot to our staff.  Sure, a lot of them were probably just there to see (and feel…and be photographed with) my mustache, but you get the point.

How do you create camaraderie among your clients?

  • You hire the right people, give them plenty of autonomy, and make sure their jobs are as fun and rewarding as possible so that they’ll always be in the right mood to create and nurture friendships; there simply can’t be bad days.  I heard from a commercial gym trainer the other day that his facility had 68% employee turnover the previous year; how do the members even know the staff – let alone become their friends – when they’re gone within a month or two?
  • You treat everyone as individuals, even if they’re in a semi-private or bootcamp-style training set-up.  This means you individualize with your programming and find time to interact with everyone, monitor their progress, ask about their families, or just shoot the breeze about who the Red Sox should sign this off-season.
  • You put results first and revenues second (some of the business coaches out there will hate me for this one).
  • You introduce clients to other clients and help expand their social networks.
  • You organize client events – whether it’s a Thanksgiving morning lift, trip to a baseball playoff game or a boxing match, Halloween party, or a seminar for parents on how to keep young pitchers healthy.  And they don’t even have to be huge gatherings; my family has had two of our pro baseball players with us at Thanksgiving each of the past two years, for instance.

The possibilities are endless in this regard, and the appropriate “strategies” (if you can even call “caring” a strategy) are going to be unique to each facility, but the end goal should always be the same: camaraderie.  If you’re in the fitness industry and not working to create it both intentionally and unintentionally, you’re missing out on an important component of being successful.

Thanks for reading; I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  Don’t forget to check out the 20% off sale on all the aforementioned products HERE.

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