Celebrating a Lifetime of Legacies

Water ripplesIn January Henry Polessky passed away in Vancouver. Henry was a visionary and leader within the Canadian fitness industry. He will be honored this month at the International Health Racquet and Sports Club Association conference. His legacy and impact was exemplified even further during the celebration of his life last weekend which coincided with the end of the Olympics.  The afternoon was capped by the city of Vancouver lighting the Olympic torch to honour his contributions.

I knew Henry founded Fitness World and grew it into thirteen fitness clubs in metro Vancouver, but his other legacies weren’t well known to me until people began to speak about their connections to him. Dr. Taunton, Chief Medical Officer of the 2010 Olympics described how they both started the Vancouver Sun Run over 20 years ago which each year has nearly 50,000 participants who run or walk 10km. Rick Hanson, Man in Motion spoke about Henry’s advocacy for spinal cord research. Wally Oppal former BC Attorney General recalled how Henry was always interested in you were doing. Others told stories of how their life’s path changed for the better because of Henry’s encouragement.

Henry built his dream team which became a fitness family. These people worked passionately beside him for over 25 years until Fitness World was sold in 2009. Henry’s impact on me began  in 2000 when I joined Fitness World as a Personal Trainer.

One way that Henry showed that he cared about his staff and clubs was through his periodic visits to each club during which he would greet people by name. Two other ways were through the recognition awards held at the annual Christmas parties and his presence at company wide meetings.

In 2007, I came up with the idea of converting unused space in North Vancouver to build a rehabilitation center.  Throughout the negotiations Henry supported my idea while asking some tough questions to make sure that it would thrive but also that I would be to differentiate it from the Personal Training department. After several months he and the other owners agreed to give Lifemoves a shot. It isn’t often that you can start a whole new business within one while being an employee for the previous. In September 2007 I made the transition from employee to business owner; his support and that of others is something I will be eternally grateful for.

He showed me that it is important to treat everyone fairly and like your own family. In November I was invited to a weekly brunch with the core Fitness World family. Even in his frailty and after not seeing each other for several years he still remembered my name.  His actions always demonstrated how important it is to conduct yourself ethically and integrity, something that I echo even tough situations. Henry is missed and will be fondly remembered by many people including myself.

The celebration of his life left me wondering what others might end up saying about me. What legacy do I leave? Remember impressions we leave people with happen on every single interaction we have, not just when we pass away.

Our legacies don’t have to be world wide to make changes. Do something small today to make someone smile; they may just do the same to another. What will your legacy be?

Overcoming a Fear of Financial Numbers

Fear of Equations

How many small business owners know their craft (in my case Kinesiology), but have challenges with finances? Looking back it has been nearly 20 years since I first developed a fear of numbers. The words “don’t take math again” have been etched into my memory since they were spoken by my grade 10 math teacher.   Perhaps this new fear of numbers why I initially stared a degree in English and History?  It was near the end of my first year of university that I discovered that I really wanted a degree in Kinesiology. The irony is that a Kinesiology degree has numerous courses that have numbers and computations as part of their curriculum.

Now as a business owner it is even more critical to be competent at understanding my financial numbers as well various key statistics that drive my business forward. This fear of numbers has previously prevented me from feeling confident enough to develop cash flow projections and budgets.    I would much rather write, go play outside. update my website, go to the movies than sit down and complete cash flow projections however, I know they are important pieces to being profitable and running and an agile business.

What I think was missing from my financial education was how to properly manage cash-flow. One effective way to overcome a fear is to dive deeper into by seeking more knowledge and combining it with practical application. I found a couple of books that helped (see below) and started to in grain some weekly habits.

In addition have been working on  switching the “I am not good with numbers” thought to something more positive such as “I am in the process of being competent at understanding and creating cash flow projections“.

A business exists to make money, no shame in that. For me I enjoy the independence, but I also want the business to support my lifestyle and family.  There a few habits I am in the process of implementing to help my business thrive and strength my financial numerical literacy:

  • Balance books weekly
  • Complete weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly cash-flow projections
  • Added line items in the projections to pay off debt, pay taxes and pay myself
  • Use the projections to what cash as to be on hand to make appropriate payments and know what sales have to be.
  • Use the projections versus actual to make strategic adjustments, increase sales or decrease expenses
  • Keeping all my receipts organized with Neat instead of in a shoe box!

It isn’t easy in the beginning, however the more frequently that these items are completed I gain more confidence in my financial management skills. This process also keeps me focused on creating a bright future instead of the berating myself for what has already happened.

Educational Resources

  1. Unleash Your Cash Flow Mojo: A Business Owners Guide to Predicting, Planning and Controlling Your Company’s Cash Flow – Sandra Simmons
  2. Managing Cash Flow: An Operational Focus – Rob Reider & Peter B. Heyler

How to Rewire Your Brain from Being Angry to Celebrating Success

Rewiring the Brain

Flickr www3Billard

In June 2013 I was suddenly faced with moving my business.  Being asked to leave our previous location unexpectedly was shocking,disruptive and nearly devastating. The move meant a significant loss of revenue,  loss of my employee and a loss of marketing inertia.

There were parts of me that were extremely angry and stunned while other parts of me went into immediate action mode. Although it only took a couple of weeks to find a new location my anger towards this situation and the person who initiated the move stayed with me until last week.

While I knew this anger was not healthy or useful I wasn’t certain of how to switch my thoughts. Initially I explored counseling, but thought I would try to research techniques on rewiring my brain to achieve more resiliency and less anger.

For my birthday last month I received a gift card to a bookstore. That same day I found, purchased and read “Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being” by Linda Graham.

Bouncing Back CoverThe detailed neuroscience with practical meditation mantras was what I needed. Our brains are plastic. We can switch the negative rewiring by replacing those thoughts by positive ones. When I feel anger towards this situation I send a positive out to the universe and acknowledge the pattern that makes me angry. It has taken a few weeks for this to stop feeling forced, but now those wishes are more natural and genuine.

Last weekend helped me discover that I don’t celebrate enough. My current clinical space came about because Lifemoves needed a new home.  Now every time I unlock the door I celebrate and welcome myself home. Celebrating each small success by replacing negative thoughts with positive reframes has drastically reduced my anxiety while improving my happiness. I am also very grateful for the opportunity such a previously negative situation presented.

How are you going change your thoughts? How are you going to express gratitude and celebrate your successes today?

Rediscovering My Story

Prairie Grain Elevators

As a birthday gift my mother sent me a photo of grandfather (her father) along with a few of his personal effects (he passed away in 1998), which included a resume of his medical education and publications.  He lived to be just over 90 years old, so how could two pages tell his story? He grew in Weyburn, Saskatchewan not far from Regina where I spent my FORMative years.

He and I went to many garage sales, he inspired me to become a health care professional and helped form my desire to learn photography (I wish I had learned more from him about film photography). There is a photo of him at my age; we look a lot a like, but I also have my paternal grandfather’s chin, who I never met..

My 40s are approaching, so I thought it was time to review the first nearly four decades.  We tie our identities to many things including what happened in our past, our occupations and our families. While our pasts have shaped us to become who we are today, they don’t have to shape tomorrow.  Each decision we made has had an effect on our lives; that decision could have been simply turning left instead of right a few years ago while walking to the grocer.

It took me many years to be able to comfortably, authentically and confidently share that depression and suicide attempts were part of my life.  The bullying that lead to these is no longer the story I tell, but I realize those years deeply affected my initial level of trust I hold towards people and how I handle particular situations.

Writing out my story from my birth in London, Ontario in 1976 to two wonderful parents, who have been married for nearly 50 years to today when I myself have been married for one and half years was quite a journey of discovery.

Those years after moving to Vancouver were quite traumatic, however I no longer have the emotions attached to high school bullying.  I jettisoned many of the self-defeating beliefs when I attended Unleash the Power Within with Tony Robbins.

What I also discovered is that I really didn’t celebrate that much. Each event I wrote down initially with very little emotion and often skipped over some major accomplishments and awards.  When I went back to fill in the blanks I started to feel very proud of what I have accomplished.

There are also some very pivotal moments in my  life that changed my direction completely.  One was deciding to come back to Vancouver after my undergraduate degree to attend UBC for non-degree related upper-level courses.  During this time I broke up with my fiancée and met Dr. Christensen, who has a spinal cord injury.  He was my first personal training client. Our six months together propelled the focus of my life’s work on providing those with disabilities, medical conditions and injuries with the opportunities, knowledge and facilities to stay active for life. It also inspired my vision for my own facility – which is almost crystal clear.

Being fired from my first job in fitness was devastating. However, one week later I was hired to as Personal Trainer at Fitness World within two days of handing in my resume.  During my eight years with them I blossomed into one of the top in the company for Personal Training sales, met my very dear friends and best woman at my wedding, met my lovely wife and I started Lifemoves as a strategic alliance with them.

Growing up in the Prairies really does define my character and pride. There is a very good poem by David Bouchard:

On the prairies I learned to embrace the snow and winter. I learned to cross-country ski, a sport I will be enjoying my entire life. My first twelve years also gave me a couple of pseudo elder brothers – the Jensens.  The two boys, Erik and Olaf were both older than me, but we did a lot together including learning to ski in Jackrabbits, playing with legos, hiking the Rockies and many Christmas dinners.  Being the youngest, of course I ended up with the hand-me-downs; a good thing in the end.

My time in Saskatchewan changed my blood colour to Rider Green.  Brock and I would get free tickets from Safeway to the kids’ end-zone area and then sneak into the main stadium claiming we had to call home (the only pay-phones in the place were in the concourse). One of my fondest memories is of attending a touch football camp at Taylor Field (now Mosaic stadium). We were mentored by some of my heroes. I still have the t-shirt, but it is a tight fit and my wife won’t let me wear it.

Growing up with my parents – no choice there, love them to bits shaped my values and the type of marriage I sought. I can not count a single divorce in my extended family, nor that of my wife’s.  My mother is doting and very caring, while my dad has is own unique way of showing is  devotion to my well-being.. He challenges me to always be better than I am by being very direct.

While I was younger both parents came on the family hikes and cross-country ski trips, but once I started to carry a pack, which was initially just my sleeping back the adventures became more just myself and my dad.

My mother was very happy being a wonderful children’s librarian who knew that if she climbed the library ladder who role would shift a way from the children. She had a knack for finding the oddest things. She would help me with my school projects. While my dad built a software company out of his home. He sold the software in the 80s and we moved – with great protest on my behalf to Vancouver in 1988.

It is his tenacity, hard work and entrepreneurial spirit is why I now own my own business. Being entrepreneur has tremendous challenges at times, but also many amazing rewards. The thought of working for someone else makes me shudder. My summer of kayaking and flexible hours working a training log software helped to understand that coding and software development is something I too enjoy.

Now, there are many similar products, but he was ahead of his time – nearly 20 years, but lacked the resources to make it big.  This makes me think, how can I gather the resources to go after my big audacious idea that I came up with in 2000?

Even with the thunderstorms and heavy rain in the winter, I am still very gratefully for the first year of kicking and screaming twenty-five years ago.  Vancouver is a wonderful place to live. Although I wish have traveled to Europe and USA, I will always come back home to Vancouver.  The day my parents permanently move back to Vancouver I will be jumping up and down with great glee and joy.

Moving to Vancouver has led to many adventures and accomplishments.  It was in Vancouver I started to pursue my dream of learning to fly by joining the air cadets. That same year I tried Biathlon. The shooting added a layer of complexity and joy to cross-country skiing. Sign-me up!

A couple of years ago my dad revealed that he become a coach to help me become a better athlete. Last year he was named Biathlon Coach of the Year for Canada.  It was a BC Winter Games where I came home with several gold medals and one silver in Biathlon – I was grinning ear to ear!  Without Biathlon I would have never realized my own Olympic dreams. He was instrumental in the Vancouver 2010 bid; he and I both had volunteer roles at the Biathlon venue in 2010 and on the field of play.

He was on the range while I my role was an Anti-Doping chaperone. What better vantage point than to be in the tick of things with the athletes spectators and the media? Wow. We were even able to watch the  Women’s Biathlon before our own events.

One thing that has become crystal clear during the last four months is that there are things that might set you back, some times in a very traumatic and dramatic way, but they are meant to propel you to even greater things.  For me, having to move my business suddenly to June made momentarily question my purpose, however it introduced me to someone who then connected me with my own clinic space.  My business now has a stable foundation to growth.

The process of exploring my own story is helping me understand that I don’t celebrate my accomplishments as much as I need to.  Also, that there have been certain things in my life that have shaped my beliefs about finances and money. Thought patterns that I am in the process of changing dramatically.

Try writing out your own story. What do you discover? Find a quiet space, grab some tissue and water, now start writing.

Trying this WordPress Thing

Paper Desk Choas

It was back in 2008 when I had my website overhauled by a professional organization. Since then it has become increasingly more difficult to change the information and design. Their suggestion was that they build an integrated website on  WordPress that can also be viewable via mobile devices.

Today I completed the my first attempt at a mobile website – see it at http://m.lifemoves.ca I am not certain why I have been so scared of WordPress or doing this website thing on my own.  Back in 1995 I created a website via HTML that garnered a phone call from a headhunting company that for a company that wanted my skills.  My whole life has been surround by software development. So, I kinda of get the gist of how it should work.

My first step is to see if I can convert the old Red Dragon Entrepreneur from Blogger

Wish me luck at sorting out this mess! Time to get my websites out of what seems like the dark ages.

Getting Re-AMPed About Your Business

Sometimes my entrepreneurial motivation wanes and I need something to fire me up again.  On Canada Day I was listening to a podcast about how to harness your inner athlete while heading to the Grouse Grind® where my inner athlete thrives. That day I took 1:45 minutes of my personal best to set a new one of 37:13, this places me in the top for 15 for my age group. I am AMPed!
The Grouse Grind® is 2.9 km climb with a 2,800 feet elevation gain, a small mountain which I have climbed over 100 times. I am striving to be among the best at this and it is something I know I can be a master at, it is also something I can do on my own and the purpose it is to build confidence that transfers to other parts of my life. 
Why? It is both a mental and physical challenge that I can complete and feel victorious every time,  especially on Sunday. The rush lasts several days which gives me confidence to complete other activities especially those related to my business.
How do we find the motivation? How do I reignite the passion for my business? What does being AMPed up mean? The term comes from Mark Margolies,  a sports psychologist who has worked with over 2,000 people. The podcast was an interview by Beth Beulow of the Introvert Entrepreneur (yes, I am an Introvert); she can be found on iTunes.

Autonomous

Entrepreneurs have a lot of freedom to do what we want to do.  Yes, sometimes there are certain constraints that we might “THINK” are limiting us; however maybe there other ways to get there? I am not working for anyone who is telling me what to do on a day to day basis or how to do it.  I have the freedom and autonomy to make it up as I go along.
My business can shift, grow and develop as its surrounding do the same.  I can shape it to be what I want.   After a great deal of thought I decided that my definition of success is to get the two locations Lifemoves® has thriving such that I have more financial  and time freedom.  Lifemoves® does not need to be a national or global brand, nor do we necessarily need to have our own facilities, because with that comes a lot more risk.

Mastery

What are we good at? What is your Hedgehog? Last week I had a good discussion with one of my employees who agreed that I need to delegate more.  Business leaders  need to give people the opportunity to do what they are good at so that they can be great masters at it while the leaders focus on the path towards the vision. 
As a business owner and clinician there are certain things I am good at, while others I am not good at. It is time to harness my strengths and really master those.

Purpose

Knowing your purpose is really important. My purpose has been reignited while listening to several podcasts on business and strength and conditioning.  What is it? There several parts to my purpose:  to assist as many people as I can to lead physically active lives; to show them how to become physically and mentally resilient despite injury, disability or chronic medical condition; to show them what movement is all about; to provide others with the opportunity to do the same within my business. 
After all Lifemoves®’s purpose – is that movement is an integral part of life. I am AMPed about moving into the new space in North Vancouver. It will provide a more optimal environment to be autonomus, fulfill our purpose and be masters at what we do.
How are you going to get AMPed up about your business?

Thriving in Competitive Rehabilitation and Fitness Market

Moving from the confines of a large gym,with lots of foot traffic to  a smaller independent training studio has presented many challenges. A recent article in the Vancouver Sun “Vancouver’s Sweat Equity:  Facilities vie for their share of city’s multi-million dollar fitness industry” has reignited the entrepreneurial fire within while helping me become aware of  the opportunities for and threats against my business.   Much of the $2-Billion Canadian fitness and recreational sports centers industry is in B.C. which has grown 30% from 2006 to 2010 (Statistics Canada). 
 There have been some major changes since 2000 when I joined this industry in 2000 when I volunteered at a local community center to provide Personal Training for a client with a cervical spine injury.  Changes include a few new big name players, GoodLife Fitness and Club 16 as well, the 50 year old local chain Fitness World which sold to a U.S. based company in 2009 hoping to cash in Fitness World’s longevity and the celebrity name of Steve Nash.   There have been some smaller studios which have flourished while others have come and gone within a couple of years.
Personal Training has become a career that many people are pursuing, so smaller boutique studios and independent training studios (where trainers pay drop-in fees per client) are popping up across the lower-mainland.  Some trainers are even moving out the big box gyms to pursue independent opportunities. It takes a lot of effort, risk and over $100,000 open your own facility, so many trainers choose the shared competitive space of an independent training studio.  If Industry Canada stats show that 30% of business don’t make their 5thanniversary and the competition becomes fiercer, how can we thrive?
Kinesiologists are stuck in the middle between the rehabilitation and fitness industries. Physiotherapists are doing a great job of marketing their profession and businesses, they are also stepping further into the realms of providing more exercise therapy which includes active rehab.  As Lifemoves reaches its 5thanniversary what perplexes me is how do we maintain our differentiation and gain a bigger market share of this large industry?  Vancouverites have a lot of choices and the number is only growing, so how do we get them to choose us? 
Another question I have is how can this business be structured and operated in ways that we are able to provide uncommon service that is for the greater good, but is also profitable? There are several societal benefits to growing a business that exclude more profit.  These include being able to provide more people with employment as well assist more people in their pursuit to return to work and improve their health and quality of life.
The basic answers to these questions is first to relentlessly pursue excellence for the greater good while making the right decisions in the right context. Secondly, it is really know what your business is about and what solutions you really provide. Thirdly, it is to find creative ways to market our services so that the values and benefits we provide our clients remains top of mind so that they do talk about us to others.
There seems to be room for growth in the fitness and rehabilitation industry? How are you going to grow your business?

References

Vancouver Sweat Equity

When to End a Strategic Alliance to Grow a Business

A strategic alliance or business partnership only works when both parties are doing their parts to make it function. When one side becomes disinterested or hindering by their lack of attention or action then it is time to move on.

The company I originally made my strategic alliance was bought in late 2009.  In 2010,  the new owners by lack of action, unwillingness and new operating environment made it difficult to grow my business. We survived because I was determined to lead us into a new direction and I know the value of my business.

Sometimes we get stuck in what is safe even though we are unhappy,  and no longer progressing. It is important to turn the page to get unstuck. Having a plan helped me successfully navigate the big change of breaking Lifemoves’ strategic alliance with Steve Nash Fitness Clubs (Fitness World) to grow my business. 

Tonight I delved a little deeper into the next chapter of my working life by saying goodbye and good luck to a number of work colleagues who are now friends.  In early 2000 I joined the Fitness World Cambie club to get a job as a Personal Trainer; twelve years later I moved my independent business out of there.

End of a Strategic Alliance

There are times in life when everything comes to its rightful conclusion and we are ready for something new. For me I think I held on a little too long because I tend to see the best in situations rather than the worst. At times this means that I refuse to see the situation for what it truly is.  A strategic ally who doesn’t respond to your request to have a meeting for over a year kills any grand potential the alliance has.
In the Cold Hard Truth, Kevin O’Leary makes that point clear as well.  When one side is no longer providing the services that are required under the agreement it stalls your growth, make sure you don’t wait too long before changing your strategy because if you do it could sink your business.  In 2010, I waited patiently for all the dust to settle from a merger while I was under the impression that the new owners liked what we were doing and saw our potential (all smoke).

A nearly eighteen month stalemate nearly killed my business. It was finally in May 2011 that I was able to get a meeting to sort out what my next steps were. We mutually decided that it was in both businesses best interests for Lifemoves to move-out as soon as possible. Thankfully due to the circumstances we had until September 2012 to find the appropriate space.  

 If you own your business it is up to you to take action and pay attention to your financials so that your business thrives instead of dies.  In time like these pay very close attention to your financials, perhaps even monthly if not more often so that you can make micro adjustments to steer it straight. If you wait too long it is going to take a massive hard RIGHT or LEFT to stop you from crashing.
I am disappointed because I thought that by aligning with a larger gym which had plans to go national that I would have more influence in the design and programming of future facilities so that they would be more inclusive for clients with disabilities – this is a legacy that I wanted (and still want to) leave.  In business and life you can’t be partners with someone who doesn’t have very similar philosophies as you. However, when you truly believe in your dreams and have a vision that is ingrained in your psyche it will manifest itself because you will take subconscious and conscious steps towards it.

Lifemoves’ Bright Future 

In January we started to move our North Vancouver location to 1350 Pemberton Avenue. During the first week it was apparent that even though we all run our businesses out of that location we all work together to provide a professional, clean, tidy and friendly atmosphere for us and our clients.  We have pride for the space, unlike at our old location where equipment would disappear and tools would be strewn around floor well after someone was done with them. 
The final phase of the move happened today as well. With a lot of patience and elbow grease I removed the branding decals from the windows. I will miss the clients, members and Personal Trainers who I got to know during the last seven years plus years in North Vancouver and previous years with the original club owners.  
The future’s chapter began with our first monthly meeting at our Coquitlam location. We are part of a wellness clinic in which many practitioners share space.  Andrea, Hardip and I were all there to meet a few of them and get to know how all of our services can benefit our clients’ wellbeing (a common purpose).   Afterwards we had discussions with a designer, a glazier and a painter to help us put the finishing touches to the space.  I am really excited and I am looking forward to showing off our new space.
Moving on from the strategic alliance with Steve Nash Fitness Clubs is what I needed to do to grow my business and renew the passion I had for it.  Remember when one opportunity ends another starts.

Be Proactive. Take Action Early.

12 Business Lessons from Big Box Gyms

There are pivotal times in life when one decision alters your career path;. mine have been in 1994, 2000, 2007 and 2011. After twelve years of being involved with a larger multi-location fitness facility as an employee and vendor I moved my business to completely independent. Which oddly enough has opened more doors of opportunity.


In 2000, I thought that working as a Personal Trainer who specialized in rehabilitation, such as Fitness World for a few years would help launch my career.   


I became one of their top selling Personal Trainers and a Group Fitness Manager during seven years of employment before negotiating a strategic alliance that became Lifemoves. 


Before the merger Fitness World was a family run business with the original founder still very much involved. I am very grateful for the support I was given to open my own business within a business in 2007.  The idea was to test run a rehabilitation centre within a larger fitness centre with multiple locations however, this changed in December 2010.  Little did I know how long I would be involved with them or what I would learn. 

12 Lessons Learned While Working in a Big Box Gym

1. Large Companies Take Awhile to Get Simple Things Done

As a group fitness instructor it took me one year to get new equipment for our programs.  When there are multiple layers to go through, sometimes there are road blocks that occur. These road blocks prevent organizations from thriving or taking advantage of competitive opportunities.  As a company grows make sure that your employees have enough freedom with guidance to see their own initiatives completed.  Evaluate each project on its own merits, but don’t take so long that opportunities are missed.

2. Pay Attention to Your Numbers But Not So Much That You Lose Sight of People

We always had to know our daily numbers which lead to our projected figures and monthly revenues. Those without a business sense weren’t sure why it was important. If you don’t know what your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are or where they at for a particular time period you are unable to make necessary strategic adjustments.  Over the last few years I have figured that there are specific indicators of our performance that leads to revenue. Our income statement is merely a reflection of the actions we took to execute our strategies.

Part of what makes people want to work or participate in a great environment is the people. With the merger the energy of the gym shifted from something that was really friendly and family oriented to something more corporate.  I want  Lifemoves’ clients and staff to be part of a family whom feel as though we are all working together to get people moving for life. As a business owner I still have to manage our KPIs.


3. Managers are Not Always Leaders and Leaders are Not Always Managers

A manager has specific tasks to accomplish throughout the day and things to look after. Leaders take initiative, coach and guide people to become better at what they do. New Personal Trainers would approach me for guidance even though I was not their manager because I took the time to help them improve their teaching and business skills. With the merger there is now more coaching happening.

4. Freedom Manager Can Be Detrimental for Some While a Micromanager Can Be a Crazy Maker

There are two extremes of management – Freedom Manager and Micromanager Crazy Maker. As one manager told me “we are all adults, so we are capable of doing our jobs.” This is why we were all left to our own devices. Some people thrived while others who needed more coaching or guidelines eventually left. On the other side is the manager who is always taking over or always checking in without trusting that staff is actually doing their job properly.

Each employee requires their own level of management. I try to find their particular level that keeps them motivated, our clients happy and the business running smoothly. To survive as an employee I had to do my job, learn to let whatever the micro manger said slide off my shoulders and take initiative.

5. Listen to and Take Care of Your Clients and Staff

While we are unable to accommodate every client’s whim or whimsy clients want to know that they have at least been heard. Whether it is a complaint or commendation keep your eyes and ears open.  If there is action that can be taken to resolve an issue, don’t just brush them off. Take care of it.  If clients are paying for a premium service, such as Personal Training they want the extras like water.  Even in a down economy there are ways to cut costs without reducing the quality service you provide or how you take care of your staff.

6. Find Ways to Improve

If you want to thrive in a retracted economy, find ways to improve and add value. Now is the time to innovate and improve the quality of service so that clients remain clients, while they also sing your praises to their friends and family.  Taking away little perks from clients or staff only produces more grumbling.

7. Reward Current Clients and Staff

It took awhile, but I believe this is happening. Fitness World would have great promotions for new training clients, but not current ones. This created “a what about me?” attitude. Some of the promo packages now are fantastic. It took several years for Personal Trainers to be part of the bonus system, which we often complained about. Find ways to thank all your employees for their efforts and contributions.

8. Compete on Difference and Value Not Price

Lifemoves© is trying to figure out how we can best reward our clients without offering large discounts. You don’t hear of a Physiotherapist or Chiropractor offering to discount their services, so why should we? The concept is to give something extra instead. It has been our general policy not to discount.  Personal Trainers are paid on a percentage fee split – so with discounts they are paid less until the client renews. Clients who paid for packages with large discounts often had difficulty seeing the value of paying full rates.  This is why we pay employees a flat rate instead of percentage (it keeps payroll simple too) and don’t offer discounts or participate in GroupOn type services.

9.  During Times of Change People Will Often Look Out for Themselves

In times of change and turmoil some people end up protecting themselves. A merger takes a couple of years for the dust to settle and for others to adjust. Sales people are motivated by commissions. If there is the perception that their income is threatened they will sometimes be ruthless at protecting it.  If you are in a company going through a merger or big changes try to help each other out.

10. Communicate Clear Expectations

To avoid the above situation and others it is very important to make sure that everyone is communicating clearly during times of change. New staff in one department doesn’t always know what is happening on the other side and vice versa.  Keeping everyone involved in the loop will ease tension and prevent conflict from happening in the first place.

11. Have Checks and Balances but Keep Things Simple

It was clear during my tenure that there were multiple redundancies that had to be checked and balanced to ensure that everything was completed correctly. I still believe that this important, but how many steps are really needed is still questionable.   As my business grows it becomes increasingly complex, however I am conscientiously always trying to find ways to make it more efficient.  A system with redundant or unnecessary steps will cost you money.

12. Learn to Leverage Technology: Databases Are Great

In 2001 I developed an access database to track client sales and sessions; in 2006 I started to use a PDA for my calendar. It was in late 2007 when they were talking about moving to an electronic system.  How are you able to search client records in paper? Databases give you a lot of flexibility to manage a lot of information more easily.  When I found out about electronic management service providers in 2008, Lifemoves© made the leap.

Conclusions

There are many more lessons I learned throughout my twelve years, including that having systems is important to produce long-term results and  business growth.

I will miss Fitness World, as I have many fond memories and am thankful for everything that I have learned while there. 

I am looking forward to growing my company and continuing to Get People Moving for Life™

Share the Red Dragon Entrepreneurial Experience

Start spreading the news.  Welcome to the year of the dragon. I am excited that Lifemoves is poised for big growth in 2012. This means that we will be adding more content and looking for more ways to share information in all of our blogs: Get Moving for Life, What’s Moving at Lifemoves and this one.

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Sincerely,

Alfred Ball
Life Moves Health and Fitness Inc.
President | Founder | Red Dragon Entrepreneur