Fast sistematization

What are standard operational procedures and why do you need them in your fitness club

What are standard operational procedures and why do you need them in your fitness club
Written by COSMIN Published on 2021-03-02 6 minutes read

Does it often happen that your employees at your gym don’t know what to do in certain situations? Either the situation was unusual, and they had not faced it before, or they simply did not know what to do in that case.

This phenomenon happens much more often than you think, in any business, regardless of its type or number of employees.

Even when you have a small team and feel like you've explained everything they need to do, at least one member will not fully remember everything you have told them. And often they either don’t realize they don’t know something or are too shy to ask.

How many times you as a manager had to wonder what should you do in a particular situation? Or how did you handle a certain situation lats time?

Well, an SOP is the answer to all these questions.

Let me give you an example!

What if a member who just bought a 12-month membership changes their mind and asks for a refund the next day?

How do you or your front desk team handle this situation?

Do you know exactly what the step-by-step procedure is, or does everyone do what they think is best? Do you have a refund policy or is the decision made by the employee based on how nice the member making the request is?

If you already have a procedure that sets out step-by-step what to do in such a situation, then congratulations, you already have an SOP.
What exactly is a SOP?

SOP comes from the expression standard operating procedure, more precisely what to do in a certain situation.

Although many of these procedures may seem obvious to you, I do not recommend relying on such thinking. Often what seems obvious to you is not as obvious to someone else, especially if they are in a tense or urgent situation.

So, an SOP is a set of steps or rules to be applied in a certain situation.

Of course, these procedures should be written. Whether we're talking about printed documents or manuals, or online, in a database that all your employees have access to.

Let's take the example above again with the member who wants their money back.

An SOP in this case can mean the steps your employees must go through to make that refund. Thus, all your employees will know exactly what to do step by step in this case, without having to turn to another colleague or to you.

Of course, a gym is a complex business that faces various challenges. That's why you need several SOPs, depending on the categories of employees and the activities they perform.

My suggestion is to collect all the procedures you already have in one manual. So, whatever the problem, your team will know exactly where to look for the answer to the question and they won't get entangled in various documents.

Why do you need an SOP?

The short answer is to make sure that all your employees do the right thing, regardless of the situation.

However, the benefits of such a system are much more numerous.

First of all, you are sure that your employees know what and how to do it, and they will not constantly turn to you or a superior. This means you can sleep easy knowing you don't always have to be in the club to supervise and explain operations to employees.

A well-crafted SOP is the most valuable thing for a new employee. While I'm by no means saying to skip onboarding new employees, a manual with SOPs will be of great help to them.

No matter how exhaustive and long the training period of new employees is, they will inevitably forget certain aspects, or you will omit them from that training.

Instead, with an SOP manual, the new employee will immediately find the right answer and procedure and won't make any mistakes. And they won’t have to call co-workers or bosses to find out what to do either.

Online bookings classes

The role of an SOP is also to impose a certain standard of the services offered, but also of the working environment of your employees.

Thus, the work environment of your team is well set up, your people know exactly what their responsibilities are, and they will always know who to turn to in various situations.

Nothing is more unpleasant for an employee who is sent from one team mate to another when no one has an answer to a certain problem. Such situations create a confusing work environment, and you definitely want all your team members to be confident and do their job without stress.

On the other hand, an SOP has the role of standardizing the services you offer in the club. What does this actually mean? Well, no matter what state-of-the-art equipment you have in the gym or what new classes you organize, if the services leave something to be desired, then members will not be too happy.

And I'm not just referring to how modern the locker room is, but also how often it's cleaned.

Quality of service also means how you are greeted at the front desk, the fashion and how quickly a request is answered, and the list goes on. If you have a set of rules and procedures for all these aspects, then you are sure that the quality of services remains at a high level.

When to implement a SOP?

Many entrepreneurs feel that they only need an SOP when they reach a certain number of employees or a certain number of clients or a certain turnover.

In my opinion, an SOP is necessary and useful from day one of your business, even when you are the only employee.

In the case of gyms, you are not the only employee and you definitely have at least a few dozen members.

So, if you don't have an SOP yet, now is the time to make one. You don't have to wait for a magic number for your revenue, clients, clubs, or employees to start this systematization.

How to approach systematizing your gym?

A very important thing to understand about SOPs is that these procedures are constantly changing and expanding.

This means that you don't have to write down all the procedures you think you need in the club right now, and set them in stone, never to be changed again. Instead, each procedure should be reviewed periodically to make sure it's working.

In my experience at our company, every procedure was done the moment we discovered we needed it. We didn't spend a whole day racking our brains to find all possible procedures.

But as soon as the support, sales or development department faced a certain situation where they were not sure how to proceed, we took the opportunity and drew up an SOP for that situation.

Slowly but surely we created dozens of procedures, based on our experience and not on what one person thought was important.

You too can follow the same strategy at the gym.

Think about the work of each department or type of employee. What are the aspects you want them to fulfill and how. It starts with the front desk team, who deals with the most varied situations – from how they welcome a member and onboard a new member, to how they close for the day and what is the procedure for making inventory.

Then you move on to the work of the cleaning staff and procedures for maintaining cleanliness, as well as the work of trainers and class instructors.

In no time, you will have a detailed SOP, and your employees will have more clarity about their work.

You don't need to create procedures upon procedures for every aspect of your team's work. After all, you don't want their work to be all about procedures. But a set dedicated to each department will be extremely useful.


Cosmin has the unique ability to provide not only the best solution for his clients but also to help them make the most of the tools they have. He spends his time in gyms and fitness centers, not only training but also observing and researching every operational aspect of this business.

Fitness Business Romania
Fitness Business Romania

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