There are obvious pros that come with having an employee responsible for taking care of the front desk duties at your fitness studio. For starters, it means that both you and your other staff members aren’t splitting time between running to check members in for class and taking care of everything else that’s on each of your plates. But how do you determine when it’s time for you to scale and hire someone full time to manage those tasks?
We asked a few experts to weigh in on the pros and cons of hiring a dedicated staff to man your studio’s front desk responsibilities. Here are a few signs it’s time to make the hire, what to look for in an ideal front desk staff member, and what duties they should be covering to help business run as smoothly as possible.
The Right Time To Make The Hire
Having to shift your focus to meet the different needs of your business comes with the territory of owning a fitness studio. But as staffing and onboarding coach Jen Teague puts it, if your time is constantly being jeopardized by front desk tasks, it’s time to consider hiring someone to help. “When you are answering more phone calls and greeting more guests than doing other, more important work,” says Teague, “these tasks can be handled by another person. You need to focus on bigger picture issues.”
Ted Devine, CEO of Insureon, agrees. “The biggest benefit to hiring dedicated front desk help is time,” he says. “Right now, you’re probably scrambling to handle 50 different things. When you hire front desk help, it frees you up to run the business. But that also means you’ll have to delegate responsibility and empower your employees to solve problems on their own.”
“When you hire front desk help, it frees you up to run the business. But that also means you’ll have to delegate responsibility and empower your employees to solve problems on their own.”
If you’ve seen a big increase in the number of members coming through your door each day, Sean Martin, marketing manager at Directive Consulting says having a front of house employee who can help further establish your business brand would be beneficial. “Our front desk hire came after some rapid growth, rebranding our site and our business, and identifying a new target market.” he says. “There was a new level of professionalism and enterprise aesthetic going into our branding and our message. We wanted this to be reflected not only to potential clients coming through our doors, but also to our employees growing the business each day — ensuring that the right message is being cast through the entire company.”
What To Look For In A Potential Candidate
Although their main responsibilities will be managing the front desk, Devine says that a smart front of house hire is someone who shows a true interest in your line of work. “What’s more important than qualifications is potential,” he says. “You’re looking for someone who’s going to grow with your business. That’s true whether you’re running a Silicon Valley startup or a yoga studio.”
As far as key qualifications to look for when hiring, Devine says the more well rounded the skill set, the better. “If you’re running a small fitness center and hiring your first administrative employee, chances are you’ll need someone who does more than greet customers and maintain class schedules,” he says. “You may want someone with social media skills, marketing savvy, and strong communication abilities. You want someone who passes the acupuncture and massage place down the street and suggests offering to let them put fliers on your bulletin board – in exchange for the same. In other words, you want someone who can grow into a bigger role as your business grows.”
Where can you find a solid candidate for the role? Devine says not to overlook applicants that are still in school. “A great place to look for that kind of employee is your local college,” he says. “Current students can often make the admin schedule fit around their classes, and when they graduate, they may be ready to contribute in a bigger way. As a small business, you may not be able to offer the highest salary, but you can offer growth opportunities for the most motivated workers.”
Delegating Front Desk Responsibilities
While it’s okay to have your front desk employee take on tasks beyond checking clients in, Martin says to be careful of stretching them too thin, or asking them to handle responsibilities that they don’t have the right experience for. “The general rule for front desk delegation is to keep their workload focused mainly on logistical office projects,” he says. “Don’t think of them as an executive accountant or HR specialist dedicated to hiring and firing new employees or cutting budgets. Your office rep should help cultivate a delightful, safe and productive place to work — that’s their main focus.”