I love to pay a gym membership but never actually show up. Ridiculous, for sure, so the other day I finally got myself there after I don’t dare confess how long it’s been.
It was a happy surprise to run into a friend working the front desk of this national franchise gym, which shall remain unnamed.
My friend has been in the fitness industry for decades and knows how to run a gym, but doesn't know the management side. As he’s gearing up to open his own boutique gym, he’s using this desk job to learn what to do and not do on the management side. He shared some crazy stories about this gym:
- Personal trainers with no previous experience or fitness education need only take the gym’s 3-day, $300 training program and pass the test to get hired
- Most of the trainers are out of shape; one even brings cookies for the staff
- A trainer was fired for having sex with a member in a back room in the gym.
- My favorite though… a trainer brought homemade pot brownies to the gym and gave them out to members and staff without telling them they were laced with pot.
The location I go to apparently has the highest sales and personal training revenue of all branches, yet the sales team has never received any show of acknowledgement or appreciation from the owners.
Recently, it was reported in the news that an employee at the upscale gym Equinox (the gym above is not Equinox), was moonlighting as a gunrunner and busted for stashing guns in a gym locker.
You can’t make this stuff up.
So what does this have to do with you and your brand, company, or organization? Perhaps ‘nothing’ immediately comes to mind. But how in tune and connected are you to what makes your brand tick -- to its DNA, which impacts everyone your brand reaches both internally and externally?
How is your employee retention? What about your customer or client loyalty? How is the word-of-mouth about your business?
Knowing what your brand stands for is as important as knowing what it won’t stand for. Encounters you have a long the way in your daily life, like my gym experience, can be a great eye-opening guide to help inform what your brand is and isn’t about - from customer service to user experience to how to treat staff.
Years ago, I joined the first Equinox in NYC from floor plans before the gym was built. I got ushered in with a ‘family’ rate; each year the membership inched up slightly but stayed lower than those just joining. After a couple of years, they wanted to bring my membership to the street value. I fought saying, this isn’t how you treat those that have been here since the beginning. Their response: ‘If you don’t like it, join another gym.’
With no other nearby gym, I renewed with $800 in rolled up coins. They were pissed, but so was I. Not a healthy user experience nor corporate culture.
Whether you’re a solopreneur, entrepreneur, brand, organization or company, it’s so important to establish your values, beliefs, attitudes, standards, brand promise, vision, and goals. This has a ripple effect across all aspects of your business.
If you don’t care about your employees or treat them respectfully, they likely won’t care either. If you believe everyone is expendable, it will be felt and breed a culture of fear. As in any relationship, it’s give and take. It’s in the best interested of any business to have happy employees, consultants, freelancers, or vendors.
What do you stand for and what won’t your stand for? Sometimes this is hard to know until you’re facing a situation head-on. And usually, the situation is more nuanced; not as cut-and-dry as what was going on at my gym.
In the era that we now live, we have to be hypersensitive and hyper vigilant when it comes to sexism, racism, ageism, and probably plenty other -ism’s. Knowing what you stand for and what you won’t stand for will certainly be a big help in navigating this landscape.
When thinking about your brand culture, remember:
- Know your values, mission, brand promise, and make sure everyone that works with you does too - whether on staff or for-hire
- It’s about serving your customers/clients -- a happy brand culture makes that possible and successful
- Be honest. Empower. Trust.
“I used to believe that culture was ‘soft,’ and had little bearing on our bottom line. What I believe today is that our culture has everything to do with our bottom line, now and into the future.” - Vern Dosch, author, Wired Differently