When Ray Kroc became CEO of McDonald’s, he didn’t make the hamburgers taste better. He didn’t know anything about milkshakes, and he pulled the plug on onion rings. What Kroc did was make the system replicable: staff wore the same shirts, behaved the same way, flipped the burger at exactly 32 seconds. He created systems.
CrossFit owners seem to abhor systems. They also resent their workload and lifestyle, after awhile: no rest, or time, or money can wear even the most dedicated coach down. In the worst cases, great coaches have to stop helping people because they simply can’t afford to continue. Their families need to eat; their car can’t run forever.
CrossFit is not a franchising system. There doesn’t exist a master book of recipes, policies and procedures from which to draw; there are discussions of ‘best practices’ and ‘what works for me….’ but no How-To. Many of us like it this way: we live far away from the world of creativity-killing bureaucratic automation.
Luckily, we can draw the best parts of what franchisors know to create as much freedom, time, and cash flow as we want, and leave the rest. Without becoming corporate drones, we can still implement basic policies and procedures that ensure our members receive a predictable level of quality, even if actual delivery changes from coach to coach. We can still reap the benefits of structure without compromising our own creativity and individuality. When a client can be sure that class will start on time; that their weaknesses will be addressed; that the coach will be engaged; and that they’ll become better people for interacting with your business, they’ll care less about who’s coaching the Noon Group.
For example, many Affiliate owners face a tough choice when attending Regional competitions:
Do I close my Box, and inconvenience my 90%? Do I go to support our best athletes? Do I try to make the Box closure acceptable by encouraging others to attend, too? Do I leave a coach or two behind….and if so, how will I know they’ll do things properly?
On a larger scale, many Affiliate owners find it hard to withdraw from their business to create family time, rest time, or vacation:
If I leave, I’ll have to pay someone. They won’t do things the way I do them. They might be late. They can’t be trusted. They’ll forget to charge people. They won’t sign people in. They won’t know how to take money / write a receipt / book an appointment / sell a package / …..
When our Team qualified for Regionals, it meant that our three top Coaches – and me, acting as Regional Media Director for Canada East – would be away. We’d have to replace gym staff, Class coaches, AND CrossFit Kids coaches. How could we all possibly leave for 4 days?
Simple. We approached a Level 1 Coach from an Affiliate three hours away. He came to town, and stayed with his parents for a few days. The other Affiliate uses MindBody, as we do. We sent him our staff handbook, and a copy of the MindBody Quick Reference. When he finished reading each, we sent him a contract, gave him a key and his uniform (shirts and baseball hat,) and walked away.
Twice, over the weekend, he emailed with questions. Both were easily answered, and he went back to work. The handbook covered everything else; the gym opened on time, members came and went, and he left town on Sunday night. Though he’d never worked here before, I arrived at 5am Monday to a clean gym, no unanswered phone messages, and receipts from weekend sales.
It won’t always be this easy. The staffer’s coaching methods were, I’m sure, different than mine – but the groups started on the hour, had a good dynamic warmup and skills session, progressed through strength work, and had WODs finished by the :55 minute mark. We only needed him for a weekend, and his training time was less than 30 minutes. With long-term staff, you’ll have the opportunity to train them more, but the foundation will already be done before their first day of work.
Tell them how to do it, and you won’t need to worry.
For a sample staff handbook, waivers, and contracts, please visit our Toolkit.
This article was written by Chris Cooper, of Catalyst Fitness/CrossFit Catalyst. He has his own blog, Don’t buy Ads, where he shares relevant info for CrossFit boxes. Chris has also partnered with 321Go Project to offer affiliate business mentoring/coaching to affiliates who are either stuck or are ready to take it to the next level. Find out more about our affiliate business mentoring/coaching strategies >>