Thursday, 22 March 2012

Incentivising Instructors

So you want to incentivise your instructors to provide better customer service and improve retention. What metrics do you want to use, and what is going to incentivise your instructors?

If you want to improve your 12-month member retention from 50% to 60%, it can be difficult for the individual instructor to see how they can have an effect. Asking instructors to reduce attrition or increase average length of membership can be a bridge too far. Instead, you can achieve better results by looking at daily or weekly actions that will provide a short term effect that builds up over the month or year.

Giving each instructor a group of members to manage is a common practice. It provides straightforward key performance indicators (KPIs) on which to base targets and rewards. For example, aim to keep a certain percentage of your members:
  • Active (visiting in last 2 weeks)
  • On a current exercise programme
  • Under 50% risk of drop-out 

A contact management system can trigger and measure contacts. Some provide an effectiveness score for each instructor showing how many more times a member visited following a recorded contact.

The competitive nature of instructors means individual incentives can both help and hinder retention.  Staff shift patterns and regularity of members’ visits can sometimes make competition counterproductive for the member and club. In these cases, you need to incentivise the team as a whole. This could be in conjunction with, or separate to individual incentives, depending on your team dynamics. The level of competition will also be defined by what the incentives are.

People often jump to the conclusion that an incentive or reward is financial. However, research shows money does not create long term happiness or job satisfaction. We work in a vocational industry; any fitness instructor who is in it for the money is in the wrong career.

Seeing a member achieve their goal, or simply visit more often will be the best kind of incentive to many instructors. Success breeds success and results generate results. If members get results, they stay longer. Likewise, if instructors see members get results, they stay longer too, creating a virtuous circle. 

Other non-financial incentives could be time off, a points scheme where points can be exchanged for vouchers; or tickets to the FitPro convention, Flame Awards, or National Fitness Awards. These types of events generate more motivation through aspiring to win an award for the club or chain.

The last and most important part to any incentive scheme is for management to get involved and support the instructors. The gym manager will no doubt do this, but the whole management team needs to champion the successes and also help address the shortfalls. Communication between management and staff helps maximise the effectiveness. If you can also share the results with members, it closes the loop, and the instructors get another pat on the back from the people that really matter. Being seen as top dog among peers is also a big bonus to the competitive instructor. 

So when thinking about how to incentivise your instructors, the incentives themselves should come last. The most important points are being clear on measurement, and constantly communicating through your club. Keep it simple for success; the most effective KPIs are simple ones, and simple rewards also work best. 

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