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Innovation Personal Training

Meeting the needs of both employees and management can sometimes seem a difficult task. Still, sometimes looking “outside the box” can help to see possible solutions. “Innovations are expected at the Cooper Fitness Center,” says fitness director Phillip Youngblood, “so we continually have to be creative in developing new ideas.” Finding a way to motivate personal trainers to work as a team while, at the same time, generating additional revenues forced Youngblood to look outside the fitness industry and into the world of business. The strategy worked; after consulting with business professionals in the local community, the Cooper Fitness Center revised a business incentive plan and brought it to the fitness industry.

The Personal Training Incentive Plan was designed to increase personal training revenue beyond budget, as well as to give trainers a true awareness of their contributions to the bottom line. “We felt the need to reward trainers who worked harder, but we wanted to control the level at which they were rewarded on a monthly basis, rather than a flat salary increase,” explains Youngblood. “This was a great tool to enhance training revenue and meet an ongoing need for ‘more money.’ It is nice to be able to meet that need with a program that pays for itself.”

The Personal Training Incentive Plan allows trainers to receive bonuses as a reward for their teamwork toward a goal. To qualify for bonuses, trainers must meet the minimum number of sessions per month, which is set at 27. Bonuses are based on 50 percent of net revenue, after expenses. This amount is divided, percent-wise, between qualified trainers. The more sessions and revenue a trainer generates, the higher percentage of the excess dollar amount the trainer receives.

Upon turning in payroll on a weekly basis, a spreadsheet is posted on the club’s network. Each trainer has a numerical code related to their revenue, and can see what they produced financially for the last week, as well as the entire month. Trainers are able to compare their totals to other trainers’ totals,and tothe total revenue, then see what their bonuses will be if the department beats its goal.

This innovation allows the Cooper Fitness Center to meet the expectations of both the trainers and management; trainers are rewarded financially, while management reaps the benefits of exceeding budget. From April through August 2001, the trainers received more than $17,000 in bonuses, and the club’s 2001 budget for personal training revenues was exceeded by nearly $70,000 in gross revenue. Over and above revenues, the program has created a sense of camaraderie among the trainers, who are more focused on personal training as a whole, rather than individually.

In addition to being pleased with their paychecks, employees are just plain happier. “Morale and attitude have both improved, because employees respond to positive feedback,” explains Youngblood. “It shows [staff] that we recognize hard work, and that we acknowledge an employee when they go above and beyond expectations.”

Incentive plans are having a positive impact on more than just Cooper’s personal training staff. “Other departments within the facility have initiated a similar program to help increase revenues,” says Youngblood. Nonetheless, he notes that there is always room for improvement. “We plan to make minor adjustments that will allow us to reward higher performers within the plan,” Youngblood says. “We also plan to implement a system that allows all of the employees to physically see the awards going out, [such as] mock checks [and] public recognition. We realize that, with an incentive plan, the foundation can always stay, but there will be ongoing changes to help it stand the test of time.”

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