Best Practices in Hiring

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Who is the first person a prospect sees when they walk through your doors? How does this person make them feel? This is arguably the most important stage in your sales cycle. Your potential members are deciding if this is the right place for them, and often times it is an emotional decision. Do they feel welcome, safe, and confident? There’s no question hiring and retaining a five-star staff is one of the most effective ways to grow your business. They will be on the front lines developing relationships with customers, playing an integral part in member retention or churn. For many, this is one of the most challenging aspects of running a business. Here are a few tips to get you started on the right track.

1). Take a quantitative approach to interviewing

It’s easy to go with your gut when it comes to who to hire, and of course this is important, but taking a more methodical approach is key. First, identify the top 5 qualities that are most important when it comes to the position you’re hiring for. This will be different for a front desk person vs. a personal trainer. Think about your most successful former employees or co-workers. What made them outstanding? Tailor your interview questions to get concrete examples of your candidates displaying these qualities. After your interview, take time to rank your interviewee on a scale of 1-5 on each of these qualities and compare your list with another interviewer. Having a methodical process will take out the guesswork and will enable to you to compare apples to apples when deciding between two qualified candidates.

Having great staff is the first step to reducing member churn. Check out our guide on Gym Member Retention Warning Signs to discover more ways to prevent member churn.
2). Ask the right questions

Forget about the age-old hiring questions: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What is your biggest weakness? While there is some merit to these questions, you can get more information by asking about specific and relevant experience. Sometimes even more important than their answers are the things they aren’t saying. What is their body language and tone? How do they interact with other staff members? Are they on time? Are they familiar with and passionate about your business? What was it about your past employees that didn’t work out — were there any red flags you wish you had identified sooner?

3). Don’t settle

For many small businesses, it’s often a one or two person show. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of not hiring until you’re desperate. It’s cheaper and less stressful in the long run to be understaffed, than to deal with the repercussions of a bad hire. For this reason, it’s smart to always keep an open pipeline as you are growing. Interview potential hires who express interest even if you don’t have an immediate position available. Our findings from the 2017 Benchmark Reports showed our most successful gyms hovered around 30-40 students per instructor. If they are passionate about your business, chances are they will be open and ready when you are. Your customers are already passionate about you and your business — keep your eye out for the ones who would make excellent employees.

4). Watch them in action

Interviewing is great way to get to know your future employee, but take it one step further: Ask them to conduct a trial class. If you’re not comfortable using your members as guinea pigs, recruit friends or other staff members to participate, then get feedback. Observing them teaching and interacting will give you better insight into how they’ll perform in front of your customers.

Finding talent and growing your team into a group of trustworthy, like-minded people can be one of the biggest challenges of owning a business. Strategic staffing and streamlining hiring processes will ultimately contribute to your long-term success.


Hiring great coaches and staff is one way to retain members. Download our Gym Member Retention Warning Signs guide to learn other ways to keep your classes full.

Gym Member Retention Warning Signs

natalie smith zen planner

Natalie Smith, Strategic Relationship Manager

Zen Planner

Natalie is a member of the Customer Advocate team at Zen Planner. Previous to working at Zen Planner, she managed a locally owned running store in North Carolina, where she gained her passion for health and fitness, as well as working with small businesses. She has completed numerous marathons and ultra-marathons and is now focusing her efforts on cycling, learning to ski and enjoying all Colorado has to offer. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs, supporting local comedy and finding delicious food and beer around town.

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