Expanding franchises often are faced with a similar challenge: Find the right mix of new, local employees and veteran workers who transfer for the change in scenery. There is no proven formula for this.
When moving to a new city or region, experience certainly is needed from an operations standpoint, but people often feel more comfortable seeing one of their own.
Instead of seeing this situation as impossible and ultimately detrimental, some have leveraged this change into a method of increasing productivity and education.
Sean A. Quimby, Equinox Fitness director of talent acquisition and development, has had to balance such hiring and transfer issues as the company expands across the country. There were about 10 locations when Quimby came to Equinox, and there are now more than 40 in places such as Chicago, Miami, Boston and Northern California.
“It’s been an exciting time as we go into the different markets and really weave ourselves into the fabric of the community we go into,” Quimby said. “A lot of it is assisting and leveraging some existing programs and developing a strategy for how we would execute it more efficiently across the country.”
Whether they’re new or transferred employees, Quimby’s main concern is training the trainers — Equinox’s success and expansion are largely due to the quality of trainers.
By developing a Master Instructor program, Equinox isolates and identifies exceptional personal trainers and then teaches them to train up-and-coming personal trainers.
For Quimby, this is a starting point to figure out which personnel to move into an opening location. It also removes the pressure of trying to find available personal trainers from the get-go.
“They have to pass a minimum competency test to even be considered for this,” he said. “Then, they subsequently would have to pass the train the trainer (assessment). From that, they become certified as Master Instructors for us. These are instructors from throughout the country who will basically execute classes for our personal trainers and also act as mentors within the marketplace.”
As a new marketplace gets a few mentors, the next step is finding local talent, then having Master Instructors train those employees. This is not only for regional representation but also to hire locals who have the geographic stability Master Instructors might lack as they move on to other locations.
Thus, as more locations pop up, the support infrastructure will be there to keep Equinox moving forward.
“By developing those individuals in the area, we have succession planning and career-path counseling,” Quimby said. “We also have a more immediate response time to the need in the organization, so as a particular area of the country needs to have their classes offered, we’re able to schedule it, and when we open a new location within that market, we have multiple people who’ve been trained to educate personal trainers in that area.”
For a growing business, change is inevitable, and even if it’s positive (as is the case with Equinox’s expansion), it’s still change, and it does have its price.
This is especially true with regard to human capital, for which fears over diminished corporate oversight in both training and values wane as companies expand beyond their home turf.
Quimby said he has found that by dealing with change and instituting the Master Instructor program, Equinox’s training and productivity increased. And for inspiration, he looked no further than Equinox’s own area of expertise.
“With the type of thinking that we have in the fitness industry, you want constant improvement,” Quimby said. “That’s what we try and do for our body, and that’s what we try and do in wellness. We want to take that same mindset of constant improvement toward the business and get our own employees to understand that there’s a potential for positive change at all times.”
— Ben Warden, email@example.com
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