Training and service a perfect fit at California
Written by Ana Wang
California Fitness has established various trainings workshops for its employees, aimed at upholding its service, and launching exclusive fitness programmes to maintain its leading position in Asia.
'We first launched the mega-gym concept in Asia and continue to be the pioneer and innovator in the industry,' says Andrew Ward, senior vice-president, operations, California Fitness.
'Our competitors continue to follow us, therefore we have to be innovative and always try something new like launching exclusive programmes.'
To achieve its goals, the company needs staff who possess professional skills in the fitness and service industry so that the company is able to stand out from the intense competition.
To ensure members enjoy their experience at the clubs, the firm makes sure all staff listen to members' requests and treat everyone in the same way the company treats them.
All staff are required to attend a one-day staff induction programme which includes orientation and a three-hour service and professionalism training.
'Our philosophy is hire for the attitude and train for skills,' Ward says. 'We want to turn the right people into the best and provide a path to train employees in terms of skills and qualifications.'
All employees are required to go through a personality test and screening session to see if they are a good fit for the company.
Frontline employees are required to attend training sessions on communication and grooming.
Fitness professionals must complete the Fitness Professional Certification course at the Asian Academy for Sports and Fitness Professionals and hold a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation certificate. Once they complete the level two Fitness Professional Certification course, they will be eligible to become personal trainers.
'We provide internal and external ongoing training to all employees and make sure that all our fitness professionals and personal trainers renew their certificates every two years so as to maintain professionalism,' Ward says.
Fitness professionals and personal trainers need to be up to date and maintain their professional skills by attending quarterly training programmes taught by professionals from New Zealand, the United States and Europe. Staff in the operations departments are required to attend service and operations workshops, and departmental training. 'Our training [programmes] are professional, well-structured and provide certification,' Ward says. 'They are motivating, improve skills, help in career development, since on-going training is a qualifier for promotion, and help retention.'
The company's mission is to put the member's experience as the number one priority so staff are trained to listen and communicate with members to establish good relationships.
'A lot of people think we are in the fitness industry but that is just a part of what we do. We are in fact in the service industry,' Ward says. 'Therefore, we look for experienced professionals with the right skills and many of our current managers used to work in the hospitality industry.
'The impression of members determines the success of the business. It's all about the service.'
The company aims at training the right people and, by focusing its resources in this area, was able to reduce member-complaints by 40 per cent. Frontline staff are required to carry out the 'one-and-done' service philosophy.
That means they should be able to handle all requests without the assistance of their colleagues.
California Fitness also puts in a lot of resources to upgrade and expand its product lines.
'We strive to be the pioneer of the industry, be innovative and be the leader of the industry,' Ward. says. 'We have to stay on top and come up with new initiatives to motivate employees and help our members achieve their desired results and have fun.'
Starting its business in Hong Kong, California Fitness is a subsidiary of 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide, and has 22 clubs in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and on the mainland, and more than 175,000 members.
A personal touch
California Fitness strives to provide professional fitness programmes and personalised services to all members
All employees are required to go through a personality test and screening to ensure they are the perfect fit
The company puts as its priority members' happiness as they determine the success of the business
The company offers internal and external training opportunities to all staff