How To Hire The First Employee For Your Fitness Business

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Avoid The Common Mistakes Made When Hiring Employees For Your Fitness Business

A huge issue for many trainers when they become extremely busy is hiring….

Recently a fitness business owner posed a question online about making his first hire.  After reading through the comments I felt compelled to add my two cents.  

See, a hiring mistake can cost you thousands in your business.   The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the cost of a bad hire is at least 30% of their first year earnings for that employee.

Think about that…

Even at just $30,000/year for your employee, a bad hire could cost you at least $10,000!   For a small business that could be devastating.

Your first few hires are always the toughest.  There’s no system in place, you’re drowning in tasks, and you are looking for a dynamic person to come in to help you out.  On top of all that you’re probably tired, stressed and a little burnt out.

Let’s address the biggest questions from fitness business owners looking to hire their first employee.

Should you bring on Independent Contractors or Employees?

It really depends on what your expectations are for the role/individual, but in most cases it’s better to bring this person on as an employee.  

There may be a little higher cost to this decision on the front-end, but it can save you a lot of headaches later.

Here are the rules from the IRS website about the difference in the two.

If culture is important to you then managing an employee will be much better for your business than a contractor.  You’ll have more control and buy in from an employee.

Specific questions for this should be taken to your accountant.

Do you hire a Personal Trainer or Admin first for your business?

It’s almost always the best decision to bring on an administrative position before a training position. Not only is it typically more cost effective to hire this type of role but it allows you to stay focused on the revenue generating activities in your business.

Another factor to consider is the pool of qualified candidates for the role. There’s a good chance in your community the number of people with the skills and capability to be a great admin for your business far outnumber those with the skills and capability to be a great trainer.

Part Time or Full Time?

Administrative work can take place on a flexible schedule for the most part. It’s prudent to bring on this new position in a part time role unless you are absolutely sure you have a full 40 hour work load for them.

You’ll be happier to find out that you need to increase hours than you will be if you find out you’re wasting a few hundred bucks a month for a position that doesn’t need to be full time.

What will they do?

The real question you’re asking here is “how do I figure out what to hand off”. You’re plate is full of tasks and to-dos that aren’t getting done, so it’s easiest to start with those things.

Don’t fall into the trap that many fitness business owners do and hire first then figure out what that role will be responsible for completing.

The best way to approach hiring is to create a position and position description for this role in your business ahead of time. You’ll want to give them a simple title and define their Core Responsibilities and metrics.

This allows you to know exactly what you want this role to do in your business and how you’ll assess their performance.

In an admin role it can be tricky to figure out the metrics. It’s not like a sales or marketing role where you can easily tie back performance to the 4 Sales & Marketing Pillars. Instead you’re probably looking at things like customer satisfaction ratings from a survey or On-Time/Accuracy benchmarks.

Where do I find prospects?

Hiring is a lot like marketing. You’ll have a Prospect Profile for the position and you need to figure out where you need to go to find them.

The first step is creating a compelling job posting that appeals to the individual you are trying to find. Use language that will repel the people you don’t want and attract those you do.

Next, figure out where these types of people are looking for jobs now.

Job boards, like Indeed/ZipRecruiter/etc, are a good resource if you have the budget to pay for their monthly services. The free versions most likely won’t produce great results.

Your best prospecting resource will be your network. Ask your clients, share your job posting with your email list and personally reach out to business professionals that may know someone who could be a good fit.

Aggressively attack your prospecting and do something everyday to find new prospects for your pipeline.

Social media can be a great resource for you, especially local groups that include the type of person you are looking to recruit.

What about after I hire?

Most hiring goes wrong in the first 30 days post hire. You get excited about finding this new employee to add to your team but forget that you need to dedicate time to training them and making sure they get their feet under them in this role.

Map out a thorough onboarding process to integrate the new hire into your culture and onboard them for their new position.

A little preparation goes a long way with your onboarding process, don’t think you’ll be able to keep up and do it after you hire the employee.

This person has a lot of potential for (insert the skill or asset), should I hire them?

Hire the person for the role and avoid creating a role for a person! I can’t stress this enough…

Many fitness business owners make the mistake of hiring a person they think will bring them a bunch of clients or that they hope can fill a lot of different roles in the business. For example the person is good on social media so you want them to be an admin, part time trainer and also run your social media marketing.

This hybrid position has a few big problems:

  • Rarely do these types of hires pan out.  They usually leave the business owner disappointed and new hire frustrated.
  • Even if they do work out, you now have a unique role in your business that will be next to impossible to fill if the person ever leaves (and they will).
  • Too many responsibilities eventually leads to nothing getting done.  

To avoid this mistake create your position and then find the right person to fit it.  

What do I pay my employee?

The latest Association of Fitness Studio study showed that the average wage for administrative staff was $10.82/hour and training staff ranged from $27.84-$34.13/hour.

From my own personal experience when hiring administrative staff in my previous fitness business the $12-15/hour range was where I found the highest quality employees, but when I first started hiring the $9-10/hour range was what the budget allowed.

You need to know the budget and compensation plan for the new hire before starting. If you don’t there’s a good chance you’ll get a qualified candidate that wants to negotiate the compensation. If you’re in a big need to hire this may lead to overpaying for the position and put your profits in jeopardy.

It’s important to remember that you’re buying back time to spend on higher return, revenue producing activities so your profit margins may take a little hit at first when paying this employee, but you should be back on track or exceeding goals quickly.

Setting Up Your Hiring Process

By avoiding these mistakes you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and lost money in the process. Take the time to educate yourself, prepare your hiring process and follow it to the letter and you’ll be much happier with the end result.

Most your pressing questions about hiring have been answered through this article but there’s a good chance you’re still overwhelmed by everything you’ll need to get setup and figure out.

If that’s the case and you’d like to save some time (and a lot of money from avoiding mistakes) apply below to schedule a Discovery Call. We can talk about your hiring challenges and tell you how to get access to our hiring systems and ready to use resources to make it a lot easier.

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