The sun is finally starting to shine through (here in Michigan), and summer is finally here! The lack of vitamin D during the colder months may have reduced your ambitions to stay on your workout program and shot your ability to reduce your food cravings. Well now is the time to get back after it before summer comes. In order to shed body fat while maintaining and even build muscle, you need to have a […]
The growth of your business will largely depend on how well you recruit, hire, and train your staff. You will depend on these people in order for your business to run properly. Understanding how to do this can be difficult. In this book, I am going to show you how you can develop an internship program that will provide a feeder system of trained (your way!) interns ready to fill spots on your team. I will provide you with a turnkey manual to help you develop a prospering internship program that will help grow your business from within.
This guide is a useful resource for anyone looking to improve his or her business. The focus will be on personal training and fitness facilities but can also be applied to other businesses that want to improve how they hire and train their staff. Every business, especially small businesses, needs a substantial internship program in order to grow successfully.
As an owner, you will have your hand in all areas of your business but the reality is you cannot do everything. You need reliable people that will meet your standards and hopefully care about your facility almost as much as you do. If you develop an internship program full of properly trained young talent, your days of worrying where you will find your next all-star trainer are over. You will have a system that has taught future employees good habits and what it takes to be part of your team. Your interns will be part of your club culture and follow your overall vision. You will be able to sleep at night knowing that your employees are invested in your business and not just there to collect a paycheck.
I will provide you with everything that you will need to know; job descriptions, interview questions, evaluation systems, educational curriculum, and more. It will provide a robust base for you to start your own program and make tweaks based on your own training facility’s individual needs. Creating a structured internship program can take years of experience and a lot of time. The good news is I have a lot of experience (13 years) and have put a lot of time into developing my internship program and I am sharing everything that I know with you in this book. I want this process to be simple yet effective for you, not overwhelming.
The personal training industry has grown to something more than I ever could have imagined. With so much emphasis on health and fitness in today’s world, working with a personal trainer or at least knowing someone who is a personal trainer is very common. In 2001, when I got into personal training, it was almost unheard of to work with a personal trainer. I didn’t even know anyone who was a personal trainer at the time. When I would tell people I was going to school to become a personal trainer I would get that look or feeling from some people that I was just a meathead who showed someone how to lift weights. I always took that personally and had this underlying fire to show people that being a personal trainer was so much more. You could say I had a chip on my shoulder for quite some time.
I wanted respect. I wanted personal trainers to have more opportunities to get better through experience and education. I wanted to put a stop to the Cracker Jack box certification trainer, the meathead bodybuilder stigma, and show people that personal trainers were highly educated through schooling and practical application.
I took pride in what I wanted to do with my life… I realized my mission in life; help change the fitness industry. I want to help establish personal trainers as the first line of defense when looking to improve one’s health.
I worked through my first years of training, learning as much as possible, and establishing myself as the most reputable trainer in my area. Prior to owning my own club, I was in a big box club with interns but they mainly cleaned, had little direction, and no hands-on experience. Realizing I had the chance to make an impact on these interns with them being the future of my field, I took more lead in the internship program. Interns sought me out to shadow sessions, ask questions, and learn all they could. I was willing to share my craft because I knew my mission; to establish personal trainers to be as sought out as a health professional when looking to improve one’s health and it starts with our future generation of personal trainers. I would help them learn through experience and they would help me with my busy client load.
I learned how to leverage my time by finding someone who also needed help. It was a mutual agreement. I was satisfied when my interns would tell me what a great experience they had and that they never would have had the confidence to get a job in training if it wasn’t for their internship with me. I was working on my mission.
I have now had my club open for almost 6 years. I rely on my internship program more than ever before. Without my positive experiences early in my career with interns, I am not sure where my facility and training career would be today. My whole business model, in regard to hiring my staff, is funneled through our internship program.
When I first opened the facility I hired my service desk staff from Craig’s List, Facebook, and from random people that my clients recommended. As you can imagine this did not work. I realized quickly that I needed to find quality employees because without a team I could count on I simply would be out of business. My 11,000 square foot facility costs a lot of money to run. We have a high volume of training going on and large locker rooms to maintain. I demand that my facility stays cleaner than my own house and nothing can be out of order. This does not happen with sub-par employees. It happens with people who care about your mission. It happens with people who respect your facility, what you care about, and the opportunity that you have given them.
We developed a system where anyone who wanted to work as a trainer has to go through our internship program first. We have 16-weeks to get to know them and even more important to me, have the members interact with them, and give us feedback. It has worked extremely well for us. At first, we were scared to lose a trainer because we were unsure of how we could replace them. With our internship program, we did not have to worry about this anymore.
There are no exceptions. We never hire a trainer without having them come through the internship program first. I even had a guy with a Masters’s Degree, FMS, CSCS, Pn1, he had all the bells and whistles but I still did not know him as a person, so couldn’t be hired without going through the program. Credentials are great but nothing can beat people skills and finding someone the members love to be around. You have to set the standard for your hiring process and it cannot be based a resume and a 30-minute conversation. They are working for you and all the risks that you have taken to open a facility. Take the time to invest in your hiring process.
Trainers and facility owners will flourish if they hire people that are not just looking for a job. They are looking for a place to work where they can grow and create opportunities for themselves. This is how you build your team. You must hire within your system. Find good people, start them in your system through the internship program, hire the standouts, constantly train them, and help them grow. You will also find with a solid system, you will retain more employees. Building a functional internship program is your pipeline for employee growth. You never know when you need a new rock star employee. With an internship program, your next hire will be ready and eagerly awaiting a chance to be on your team.
In the end, there are so many benefits from having an internship program. Below are 10 that I find valuable.
- Find future employees. An internship program is a year-round recruiting tool. Fall internships, summer internships, semester internships, and quarterly internships; implementing an internship program means you have an ongoing pipeline of future full-time employees. For many, the process of recruiting and hiring is a drain on company resources. One solution: Appeal to tomorrow’s staff members when they’re looking for internships, and all you have to do is choose the best of the bunch when it comes time to hire.
Moreover, college campuses are viral societies. This means if your organization impresses one class of interns, word will quickly spread. Soon you’ll find the most sought-after student talent is interested in working with you.
- Test-drive the talent. It’s a human resources reality: A new employee makes a solid impression in the interview, but then does not gel with your current team or your company’s way of doing things. Because of this, hiring someone as an intern is the most effective way to evaluate his or her potential as a full-time employee. When you “try out” candidates via a semester or summer internship, you make fewer mistakes when it comes to fulltime staffing; you avoid the pitfall of training a new hire, only to find out they’re not a fit for your organization… or that the entry-level employee doesn’t like the field. Starting an internship program lets you benefit from added manpower, while more accurately assessing candidates.
- Increase productivity. Speaking of additional manpower, setting up an internship program allows you to take advantage of short-term support. The extra sets of hands help your employees be more productive, prevent them from becoming overburdened by side projects, as well as free them up to accomplish more creative tasks or those where higher-level, strategic thinking or expertise is required.
- Increase employee-retention rate. The proof for the test-driving theory is in the positive employee-retention figures: According to NACE’s 2009 Experiential Education Survey, almost 40% of employers reported a higher five-year retention rate among employees they’d hired via their internship programs.
- Enhance perspective. It’s not just the extra sets of hands that make interns advantageous. Especially in an organization of only 12 or 15 employees, new people bring with them novel perspectives, fresh ideas, and specialized strengths and skillsets. These augment the abilities of your professional workforce.
- Take advantage of low-cost labor. Interns are an inexpensive resource. Their salaries are significantly lower than staff employees, and you aren’t obligated to pay for unemployment. While their wage requirements are modest, they’re among the most highly motivated members of the workforce.
- Give back to the community. As a small business, you likely rely on community support. Creating an internship program is an excellent way to give back. Hiring interns not only helps students in your community get started; it enhances the local workforce as a whole.
- Support students. Internships provide students numerous perks. They gain experience, develop skills, make connections, strengthen their resumes, learn about a field, and assess their interest and abilities. Offering a paid internship is particularly beneficial because it enables economically disadvantaged youth to participate. Students who have to help fund their own schooling will need a job, regardless. Providing an internship allows that job to facilitate a positive future.
- Benefit your small business. When looking for full-time work, the top talent often goes for big-name businesses. But when seeking internships, learning is the leading draw. Many candidates feel they’ll get more hands-on training, real experience, and mentoring opportunities with smaller organizations.