9 Keys to Strengthening our Affiliate (community)
I recently read this e-book, Always Be Caring: The 9 Ways to Strengthening Your Affiliate Community written by Ben Bergeron. The material was written specifically for gym owners and coaches, so during my recent turn presenting during our monthly CE sessions, I delivered my best interpretation of it to our staff. It touches on many things owners/coaches and trainers share in common and how to best deal with these things. A very compelling read. I thought if I tweaked it a little so it could be viewed from a members vantage point, my readers good glean some info from it and help us develop our community even further.
#1 Base of Pyramid
Just as you have a Theoretical Development of an Athlete, there is also a theoretical development of a gym. The development of an athlete begins with nutrition. The development of a gym begins with community.
As coaches, owners, personal trainers, etc. it is important for us to remember that while we work in the fitness industry, we are actually in the relationship business. One of our goals (as a coach) is to build a relationship with you so the walls of self consciousness that one may have, can be torn down. It is necessary for you to learn how to trust us.We must be fully invested in you, and you in us.
One could argue that the most influential factor in whether a gym succeeds or fails is based on the strength of the community. The atmosphere we create must be a place where weaknesses are just as welcome as strengths.
#2 Emotional Bank Account. EBA
If we make more deposits than withdrawals, our relationships will be stronger. If we remove more than we add, our relationship will be weak. We have all been victims of someone overdrafting their accounts with us through the following:
- Breaking a promise
- Ignoring us
- Lying to us
On the other side, how many of us have said something that would be considered a withdrawal, and then watch that persons enthusiasm drain from their face.
We must focus on deposits. Limit our withdrawals while making consistent sizable deposits.
Define integrity – what does integrity mean to you? For purposes of this discussion, doing the right thing even when you’re sure no one will find out about it. Coach Greg Glassman’s advice for business owners and trainers, “do the right thing for the right people, for the right reasons.
Example: not hip checking the basket in the parking lot at Kroger…putting it away. Sounds small but it’s a step towards integrity. How does integrity manifest in the gym?
- Be on time to your appointments, including classes. This indicates you respect the coach/trainer’s time.
- Be ready for your class/session. Being on time doesn’t matter much if you are still on the phone, checking messages, etc. This is your hour, give your full attention to your trainer so they can do the same for you.
- Follow the plan your trainer/coach has laid out for you. You may not like to warm up the way your coach wants you to but remember, you hired them for a reason. You must trust their process.
- Putting away all equipment. This includes everything you used, as well as anything you might see lying around that someone else forgot to put away.
Gossip is a part of life inside every gym. It’s human nature to want to talk about other people and to give our opinions. Despite that, we have to understand how gossip can have an out-sized and negative impact on the community at large.
Defend the person being talked about, instead of partaking in the gossip. What that says about you is that you will do the same if someone gossips about you.
#5 Sincere Listening
Don’t confuse not talking with listening. Learn to be genuinely interested in what the other person is saying. To make giant deposits with someone, learn how to listen more sincerely. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is the best thing to do for all of our relationships.
#6 Appeal to the Nobler Motive
If you assume people are fair, honest, upright and the type that gives their best effort, they’re more likely to do just that. If we assume people are cheating, giving half-assed effort or aren’t being honest, they’re more likely to do just that too.
I cannot tell you how many items I pick up on a regular basis at the gym that are not mine. Countless breaths have been wasted on fuming over picking others things up. My new outlook is to consider it an oversight on the offenders part. Our human nature wants us to immediately feel aggravated for such disregard, however, quite honestly, I have accidentally left things behind on more than one occasion. Giving one the benefit of the doubt relinquishes us from the feelings of constant aggravation.
#7 Perception is Reality
“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” Henry Ford
It is my job to help you know and understand that I (and the other trainers) care about you individually. However, if you don’t feel it, you won’t believe it. If you feel as though your needs aren’t being met, I encourage you to come to me (or your trainer) and discuss this. Speaking for the entire staff on this, we can’t fix the problem if we don’t know it exists. Help us see things the way you do so we can begin to make it better. I understand that every single person has some sort of anxiety and self doubt. Walking in here is not always easy, I get that. Help me help you.
#8 Tactful Conflict Resolution
In our life, anytime someone comes to us with a complaint, our first reaction is to defend our self.. we can all use the following to help resolve conflict in our lives.
- Resist that urge to defend yourself. Don’t let it come across in your body language or you won’t listen sincerely and we won’t be able to see things from another perspective.
- Listen sincerely and don’t interrupt or spend the time they’re talking formulating a response.
- When they’re done, thank them for bringing this issue to your attention. Sympathize with them and let them know you understand where they’re coming from.
- Admit your mistakes
- Ask them for their advice. Involve them in the resolution. “What do you think we should do about this?”
These steps are simple, but not easy. Just keep practicing.
Our ultimate goal should be to give you the best hour of your day. When you walk into the gym we need to make you feel at home. We want to continue to give you plenty of reasons to drive by another gym and come to ours. We want to give you something you can’t get in your garage or in a globo gym. In return, we ask for your trust and your confidence in us. When you enter into an agreement as a CrossFitter, Power Lifter, Strongman/Strongwoman or gym member, you are agreeing to become a part of a team…a team that works together to bring out the best in each of us and the best in our community.
- Always be communicating
- Always be connecting
- Always be caring