Chantal: Hey Ed, welcome along, and thank you so much for joining us on the show.
Ed: Thank you very much for having me, Chantal.
Chantal: Now, you’ve worked in all roles in a fitness club; tell us what did you find were the biggest benefits of working your way up through the ranks into a management position? And perhaps share with us some of those things that you learned along the way that I guess you might not have known had you come straight into a management role.
Ed: Yeah, sure. Well it certainly teaches you some great attributes and work ethics. You know, hard work, I remember when I was a membership consultant 10 years ago, and there were countless times I would have to stay late into the gym and sign people up, you know, when they finish work so you have to stay a little bit later. Also, building some relationships after work to achieve my daily new lead goal and referral goal.
Some other things was the commitment to goals and targets. I remember when I was a membership consultant, and even as a sales manager, and if I was more than 5% behind my goal I’d come in on my day off and do either a full day or a half day just trying to call back some missed opportunities or generate some new ones to get back on line with my goal.
Upskilling; one of the things is upskilling yourself to become the best. I remember every month when I was a membership consultant for quite a large company, we would have a monthly sales award. And in that monthly sales award they would celebrate top performance for the month, whether it be top sales consultant, top club performance, and things like that. And I guess where I went with that is I wanted to be a part and get on the limelight with those top performers, and if I knew I wanted to grow, I had to get myself in that limelight. And the best way was to do that was to being on that leaderboard month in, month out.
When I first started, and always asked the top performers how they did it, and from then onwards I ensured I upskilled myself things like how to make a great quality phone call, how to overcome the toughest objections, how to generate new leads, and how to service my members and drive more referrals. Once I got on that monthly awards consistently, I soon found myself going through the development process for a [inaudible 00:02:10].
Chantal: You know what, Ed, I seem to recall that when you and I first chatted, you told me that, I think, your club had consecutive … Was it consecutive sales increases or number one sales for about 13 months in a row, am I close with that statistic?
Ed: 31 months at the moment and currently counting.
Chantal: So is that 31 months of increases in your sales, is that what that is?
Ed: Increase in sales and [inaudible 00:02:44] in the club, correct.
Chantal: Wow, congratulations. 31 months, that’s unheard of.
Ed: Yeah, it was always tough to change culture and one of the hardest things to do is change a culture, but once you’ve changed and shifted that, it’s just the way things are done around here now. Everyone expects that that’s what they do every single month. And from the ground up in all departments and all [inaudible 00:03:07], so it’s absolutely fantastic to be managing a club that has that culture step.
Chantal: Wow, that’s brilliant. You mentioned in your first answer about learning from others and building relationships. So, were there any specific managers or any mentors that you found were really pivotal to your journey? And, maybe, if there were, can you talk us through how they supported you and what you learned? Any examples that you can share with us?
Ed: Yeah, of course. When I think of that question, a couple of managers stand out in the back of my mind. When I became a sales manager, I remember asking my club manager if I can change something in that office. He said to me that, “You’re the manager of the department, and if you feel it will improve the club, do it.” He simply gave me some ownership and made me feel valued as a team member and as part of a new management team.
There’ve also been managers that’s given me the opportunity to step up, and on occasion, particularly the weekends, give me the keys to the club and the ability to run the show. It assisted in growing my confidence as a leader, you know, gave me practise to run the club, and gave me the experience that I needed so when it came to the time where I got interviewed for a management role or a club manager’s role, it was something that would assist me and a benefit that would sell me above the other candidates.
Chantal: So, you found that because those mentors that you had, because they entrusted you, that gave you that confidence to be able to step into the role? Because it sounds like you were in some ways doing a management role before you actually had that job title.
Ed: Exactly right. And I remember someone once told me, “Always start doing the role before you get it and that will help you get the next role.”
Chantal: Yeah, I got that same advice too, and I think that’s really good advice to have. And it makes you, I think by the time, then, that you enter that role you feel so much more confident because you know the ins and outs, you’re not stepping into something totally new. And I think in a big organisation like you have been in, that’s a really important stepping stone. So, thank you for sharing that with us.
Ed: No problem.
Chantal: Can you talk us through, in your experience, what types of professional development you have found to be the most beneficial when it comes to actually progressing into a management role? So, internal training or mentoring or external training, can you dive into that with us?
Ed: Yeah, of course. Well, I’ve come from a very structured business culture company. And I remember the training, it was outcome based, three times a week, measurable, 80% role play, 20% theory, with fun factor a part of that as well. Also, one day a week, 9 AM — I used to start at 10 AM back in those days — and so I’d come in an hour earlier and I’d have some one-on-one development time with my club manager. In that time we would go through live workshops of analysis of the club; current emails that are outstanding that we needed to do things about, pairing mating systems and processing. I think it comes back to what I was saying before about starting to practise that next role before you actually are given that role. But about the training, it was very religious, three times a week, making sure that it was measurable so then a week later we can track our success from that training.
And then there’s the obvious odd occasion, maybe every quarter, maybe every six months, we’d do something external. And it might be listening to a speaker to further develop your skills and get an understanding on other peoples’ experiences through their roles.
Chantal: Tell me if you agree with this: From my observations, I look at the industry and I see that [inaudible 00:06:56] people are moving into fitness and they want to go from qualified personal trainer to gym manager next to no time, and get there as fast as they possibly can. Based on your experience, what would your advice be to give to people that want to become leaders of a fitness business? Yeah, what would you say to them?
Ed: Yeah, well I definitely firstly start with take your time to understand the fitness business from the ground up. So many people jump into a role or buy a gym and skip the sales process. How much more successful would you be as a personal trainer or as a gym owner if this would be one of your strengths? Once you’re in a leadership role, you want to ensure that you have the right people on your team, recruit the right staff, and do not rush your decisions. Simple as that.
The other part of it would be, be the best. An old saying that I used to go by is, “Be the obvious choice.” And, “Every day is an interview.” And that really assisted me going through the ranks, that you just never know who might come into your club, who you might meet. You know, if someone was from head office doing a secret visit you don’t want to be unprepared. You always want to impress the people that potentially could be giving you that next opportunity, and always be the obvious choice. If you’re doing those little extra things that the others aren’t doing, when it comes down to the time where you have to go for an interview for that next role, you’re the obvious choice. You’re already doing the things that the other people aren’t.
Chantal: And when you and I were first chatting about doing this interview and getting you on the show, one of the things that you said to me was that you must develop people to gain success. And earlier on, we touched on your professional development, but I’m really keen to understand what you do when it comes to actually taking your team through professional development. Are there any processes that you do with your team, or are there any learning processes systems or regular meetings that you now do to help your team grow?
Ed: Yeah, of course. The people that you surround yourself will play a vital part in your success, hence why I just said before, you gotta recruit the right people on your team. But there’s two types of trainings and development that you could do to influence others, and there’s your professional way, which can be structured and detailed, and then there’s your casual approach, which is [inaudible 00:09:23] all your conversation at the coffee shop and assisting them and giving them some advice and things like that. Get to know your staff, get them to allow them to know you, be normal, be down to earth. Understand what they are good at and what they aren’t. Upskill. Train. Coach. Feedback. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Repeat again. Make them fantastic at what they’re good at, but make them good at what they weren’t. Every now and again, give them the keys to the car and let them have a drive. Every time you do that you’re preparing them for the next role. They will develop the skills and gain confidence. As a leader, it can initially feel foreign not to drive, but once you empower your staff, the feeling is indescribable to see your staff develop, grow, and succeed.
Chantal: That is so, so true. There’s nothing quite that compares to seeing someone that you’ve really helped come up through their role and learning their role and seeing them embrace that and have some autonomy for themselves. I couldn’t agree more.
So, whilst we’re on the topic of learning and growing and moving into a management role, are there any books that you’ve read over the years that you would recommend to fitness professionals that are wanting to progress into a management role?
Ed: Yeah, definitely. There’s the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard. In the volume, it basically describes the techniques of an effective manager around one minute goals, one minute praise, and one minute reprimand. Really assisted myself with my skills and upskilling as a manager.
Another one that I was involved with reading is Talent Is Not Enough by John Maxwell. And it talks about 13 points, which might be belief, passion, imitative, focus, preparation, practise, perseverance, courage, teachability, character relationships, responsibility, teamwork. Aspects on top of just saying that, well, talent is not enough, there’s some extra things to be successful.
And the other one, which I mentioned, is Sports Leaders and Success Stories. And it talks about 55 top athletes and their success stories of what they did in high performing teams and how you can actually put those same characters into the workforce and how you can make your team just as successful as theirs, but from a sporting prospect to everyday business.
Chantal: You know, I haven’t read that last one that you’re talking about, but you’ve mentioned a couple times, so now I’m totally intrigued. So I think I’m going to have to check that one out, add it to me reading list. Thank you for sharing those.
Ed: I’m a little bit of a basketball fan. I particularly [inaudible 00:12:03] Chicago Bulls era, who doesn’t know [inaudible 00:12:06] Michael Jordan. And it does have some conversations around Michael Jordan NBA scoring title to a world record of 10 times. So, it’s really good to read if you really like certain sports people.
Chantal: That sounds really good.
Okay, Ed, well look, we finish off each of our shows with fit-inspiration. So can you give us three tips for individuals to progress into a management role within a fitness business?
Ed: Sure. I’d start, first of all, be the best. You know, we’ve already spoken about being the obvious choice and every day’s an interview and things like that, but be the best you can absolutely be. We spoke about when I was an M.C., one of the things that really assisted me to get into that next promotion was to be in the limelight. And the best way to do that is win those awards, get on the front page, and be the obvious choice.
Second one would be continue to develop and upskill yourself. Not just the on field stuff but the off field stuff, as well. Continue to drive yourself to make yourself better, continue to do the things that others choose not to do, which will put you into that next opportunity.
And three, manager, speak to your manager and borrow the keys and drive the car, in any role. Whether you’re an M.C. wanting to be a sales manager, whether you be a sales manager or even a P.T., want to be a P.T. manager with your group fitness instructor, want to be a group fitness manager. Whether you want to be a sales manager to a club manager, a club manager to a regional manager, a regional manager to state, it goes on and on; always ask to borrow the keys to drive the car because that’s what’s going to give you the experience and the confidence to get you ready for that next role.
Chantal: Ed, you know what? From the second that I met you I thought to myself, I want to get you on the show because, a, you have achieved a lot at a very young age; you’ve moved into a management role, you have moved through the ranks of a major fitness business within Australia, and what I love most about listening to you speak today is you have this fantastic advice to share but you have an absolute passion for what you do. And that comes through in the way that you talk and it comes through in the energy that you have, and I wanted to get you on because I really feel like that passion that you have and that energy that you have will inspire so many up and coming fitness professionals that want to be managers in a fitness business.
So I want to just say thank you so much for jumping on today, for all of the work that you did to get ready for this interview. And I loved hearing the stories about your journey so far, because I know it’s only so far, we’re going to hear a lot more from you in the future, so thank you for coming on and sharing your experience with [inaudible 00:14:40].
Ed: No, thank you, Chantal, for having me. And it just goes to show when you go and develop yourself, and it’s the off the field things that you do, which actually made us meet, which was why we were at that conference and we got to meet. And it’s opened up the doors to where we are now, so it’s really good to meet you, as well, and obviously be a part of the show. So, thank you very much for having me.
Chantal: That is our pleasure.
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