Regular Auditing of your Club, is it a good thing?

By Tory Brettell

Why Audit your Leisure Operation?

Having worked with and for big corporate companies, there is one thing, which is very similar in every organisation and that is they all want to see their respective brand achieve continuity and consistent standards across their clubs. This is a very important factor as the standards and service provided at each club can then be recognised and this endorses the brand and alternately the name of the company. This can give repeat customers; retain members and attractive new members/clientele.

The other factor is clubs are always trying to look at better ways to adopt a new system or service and the idea of performing an operational audit to your facilities is also recognising how to add value and best practice to an operation.

The difficulty is trying to be objective, whilst being critical and recognising if you conducted the audit it is your interpretation and occasionally you may misunderstand a response to a question. Therefore it is important to ask questions that are structured for the correct audience.

From experience I have found the best way to approach an audit is to:

1. Explain that you are not there to criticise but to help develop various areas in the operation, to add value and alternately best practice.

2. Produce a template for all areas of the operation. Approximately 15 to 30 questions per topic and this will depend on the size of the functions/category being assessed. Simple Yes and No answers and text to enhance your response.

3. I always use a score card of 1 point for a positive and correct answer to 0 points for an answer which displays that something is not in place. All the points must be added up at the end of the section and be changed into a percentage value. (Divide number of correct answers by the number of questions and multiple by 100 = percentage score). Although it is not the points/percentage the management should concentrate on, it is the content within this function that highlights the improvement areas. However, using percentages is a good benchmark to use when gauging against other clubs within the group.

4. The Template should cover the following functions/categories, if appropriate to your operation.

  • Organisational Structure and Personnel
  • Induction and Training
  • Management
  • Maintenance
  • Reception/Front Desk
  • Changing/locker Rooms
  • Wellness Facilities (Sauna, Steam room)
  • Health and Safety
  • Swimming Pool/Spa
  • Fitness – Gym/Studio
  • Members Communication
  • IT Systems
  • Sales And Marketing

Obviously various other functions/categories can be added to your template and these may include: 

  • Golf Offering
  • Crèche
  • Health & Beauty
  • Food & Beverage
  • Retail
  • Tennis/Squash/Racket Sports
  • Outdoor Amenities

Once all the information has been completed on the template this now needs to be elaborated. A small report per section can then pinpoint the development areas for the Management/Owners to see.

6. As in any report the Final Summary and Recommendations need to highlight what you recognise as the important factors that contribute to either adding value or bringing consistency and continuity across the brand.

7. The same template must be used in all of the clubs within the chain and then the senior management can see from the report who is achieving what standard and what club needs to improve. Therefore, a template if you have multiple clubs, needs to be formatted and each function e.g. Induction and Training and each club can be seen at a glance on one A4 page.

8. A further template can also be produced that demonstrates the average scores per function/category for the group. Adding up all the percentages per function and dividing it by the number of clubs assessed and this gives you the overall average score. From there you can also highlight the best performing (Best Practice) function/category within the group to the function/category that needs to be developed.

A good audit will take at least 4-6 hours, (also dependant on size of the operation) as it is not just what you see as an auditor but the interviews and questions you should ask of members, staff and management. It is amazing the different responses you have, especially on staff related issues and members communication.

Collect evidence and take photographs to put into your report. Every picture tells a story, good, bad or different and do not forget to highlight the positive aspects of the club from personnel to ascetics and design. Remember be critical but be objective.

Finally variety is the spice of life and change is as good as a rest but above all to retain and service your members you must be creative and have USP (unique selling point) that the competition does not have. Invariably this comes from the service and care provided by the employees, the added value, so concentration on ensuring you have the right team with positive attitude to execute simple processes and standards is imperative to the success of the business.

Tory Brettell is an independent Health and Fitness Consultant, who specialises in Quality Management Systems (QMS), Training, Project Management and Design. Telephone: 07776 255643. Email: [email protected]

Tory Brettell set up Traffic Health and Fitness Limited in 2002 to deliver business solutions, training, mentoring and coaching services to clients, to help them continually innovate their services and keep ahead of new trends within the health and fitness industry. Using the experience gained during her time at the Royal Navy, as the first female Aircraft Electrician Mechanic, then as a Physical Training Instructor and through many years successfully managing Marriott Hotel Health and Leisure Clubs Tory provides a diverse range of services. Tory also worked in Europe and Scandinavia developing and implementing systems of operations for Elixia (who owned and operated 49 clubs).