One of the biggest questions asked of a Director of Tennis or Fitness during the interview process is one of Staff Development. “How do you develop your staff?” Or, “Have any of your staff members gone on to be a Director anywhere?”
These are all great questions and there is no definitive right or wrong answer. But imagine if an answer was: “Yes, my front desk manager.”
Although you always want to see staff advancing to bigger and better jobs. Perhaps that is why search committees and recruitment firms ask these questions time and time again. How well as a Director have you trained and educated your staff?
What we believe is necessary is to first figure out a departmental flow chart and then look at hiring and retaining staff for those positions that you have created as part of your managerial role.
What’s not as commonly heard but sometimes asked: “Is Your Director of Tennis a Former Teaching Professional?” This was asked just recently at the USPTA World Conference, and if one thinks about it, it’s not an insane question. More and more clubs are limiting the Director’s role on the court or in the gym. Most contracts maximize the Director’s hours at 20 per week. But there is a school of thought that the time on the court should be “zilch” and that the Director’s role as an administrator is far too important to spend time teaching one member an hour during a private lesson. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that future Directors of Tennis or Fitness might come out of your front desk management team.
Front Desk Manager and Staff
Your front desk manager and staff are your bedrock. We at beyondthebaselines.com believe that if a club doesn’t see the need for a strong front desk manager who is both organized and decisive, yet understanding of both employees and member’s needs, then the club will not experience the “Best-In-Class” service levels that members so desire.
Your front desk shouldn’t be a burden – it should save you time as a Director. The first face that a member sees when on property, or the first voice they hear when they make a call, the front desk manager and staff are just important a role as the Head Professional or Pilates Instructor or Junior Director. But most Director’s leave the role of the Front Desk Manager largely untrained. We believe that it should be the position that receives the most training and should be involved in almost every management meeting between pros and Directors.
With a strong and highly trained front desk, a Director frees up time. With members’ requests being answered by a knowledgeable front desk rather than being passed through for a response from the Director, the Director is then able to direct his or her time elsewhere where it may be more fruitful or creative. The front desk creates productivity in other departmental roles. Developing and retaining front desk staff and understanding that member’s may have an enhanced overall experience is one step closer to being a well-rounded Director.
Bookings and Understanding Staff Strengths
When a member calls in and asks for a lesson, which professional would be best for that lesson? If the front desk is trained to ask a couple of questions as to playing levels, the demographic of the students, if juniors or young adults, and what the member might be looking for in terms of a lesson, it is then easier to place that lesson with the appropriate professional. How many times we have seen a booking for a toddler get placed with the Director of Tennis when not requested. Probably not the best use of a Director’s time, nor is it the best money spent for the member family. That toddler would get just as much out of a lesson with a junior instructor at perhaps half the cost. The front desk has cost the member additional funds and the Director precious time.
Registration Software and Court Usage
Court reservation and private lesson or session booking software varies from club to club. And it’s not only the Director who should be up-to-speed with the minutiae of this software – even more so, the front desk should be trained in the software so members can easily get their bookings at the times they want. Most reporting for short-term and long-range planning comes from the data of these bookings and the bookings should be concise and categorized correctly, something we see missed when we go in and look at clubs’ software solutions, reporting methods and mistaken data entry.
Billing Procedures and Understanding Professional Fees
The front desk should be in charge of all billing procedures and understand each instructors various schedule of fees if not uniform. All queries for billing should be answered, in the first case, by the front desk. With in-depth knowledge and a smart Director, a well-oiled front desk can save money for members while adding to an instructor and Director’s take-home. Supposing the front desk up-sells a three and me to a member who only takes private lessons? That staff member has just saved the member approximately 50 percent of, say, a weekly lesson fee while adding to the instructor’s take home pay by maybe 60%. And, that staff member has increased member participation!
Training the front desk in terms of retail sales, length of skirts, whether the brands run smaller or bigger than usual, and knowing the location and various brands of demo racquets will all add to a Director’s revenues in various streams.
And finally, the front desk team is your marketing staff – even more than the instructors in the gym or on the courts. If managed and included in weekly management meetings, the front desk staff can market new programming or bring new members to old standby clinics.
Why should it be the Director’s role to find new members for regular, established doubles games. The front desk, even more than the Director, sees each and every member every single time they come on property. If through an encompassing management style the Director educates the front desk staff as to levels of play, the front desk staff can easily arrange games or find substitutes for established games. Or, even, suggest a pro to play in. This saves time not only for the member but also but the Director.
The front desk: Saving time, raising revenues, and adding to the member experience – sounds like your front desk manager could be your next Director of Tennis.