Joshua Harrison is the Regional Development Manager at Equinox Fitness Clubs.
He is a success-oriented individual who focuses on “starting with the best” by hiring high-quality sales and service-oriented employees. Then he provided them with the comprehensive training they need in order to excel. He has a deep interest in the fitness industry as a whole but focuses on increasing performance and enhancing employees’ ability to do their jobs effectively.
What sparked your interest in the fitness industry?
There are so many things that pushed me in this direction. My earliest memory of something that sparked my interest in the fitness realm was going to see Rocky III in the theaters when I was 10 years old, overweight, and constantly bullied. I wondered, “How does one need to exercise in order to make a body get that strong and look like that?” Of course, knowing now what I did not know then, there was a bit more than just gym work going on for Rocky and Clubber Lang!
My earliest memory of something that sparked my interest in the fitness realm was going to see Rocky III in the theaters when I was 10 years old, overweight, and constantly bullied. I wondered, “How does one need to exercise in order to make a body get that strong and look like that?
Leadership Skills and Operational Challenges
What leadership qualities do you try to emulate, and what impact do you think they have on your ability to drive business development and sales?
Emotional intelligence, empathy, and patience. These leadership qualities have been my biggest challenge to execute consistently unless I put full focus with constant, in-the-moment reflection into them. Absent these qualities guiding interactions with co-workers, retention of excellent employees proves difficult. People don’t leave companies. They leave bad managers and/or cultures. If folks leave, then there is always a need to be in hiring/development/re-training mode. This takes away from time to drive and build the business.
People don’t leave companies. They leave bad managers and/or cultures.
You spent some time working on franchise development. What were some common operational challenges that arose with opening franchises?
It’s optimal to have a well-defined system to open a new location efficiently with specific targets and timeframes that are indicative of a business ready to open and ramp to profitability. Creating the process is the easy part. Knowing what the healthy indicators are and guiding/holding owners accountable to achieving those targets takes finesse. Additionally, with each opening, lessons are learned that make the new owner’s business a better version of the model that operates at a higher level of efficiency and success. Cascading those learnings to the existing owners — so they too can benefit from this new knowledge — requires a system in and of itself.
What are some main issues that contribute to club underperformance, and what do you do to address those key issues?
Club culture is a key driver of success. Negative culture has many causes and has a ripple effect through all aspects of the business. Assuming a positive culture is in place, then it relies on the skill of the club leaders to:
- Maintain that culture.
- Improve brand appearance.
- Drive and observe key metrics through effective time management and balance.
Improving Onboarding and Operations
When you are expanding your team, what elements, procedures, or workshops are critical to a successful onboarding process?
One of the most critical elements is an interview process that identifies the best people for your team while simultaneously being transparent about what will be expected of the individual should they be hired. This sets the stage for long-term success and eliminates surprises once the employee is on board. From day one, it’s best for the new employee to be partnered up with a club leader and integrated into the fabric of the club as quickly as possible.
As an operations leader in the fitness space, what advice do you have for someone who is interested in taking on an operations role in your industry?
It’s critical for leaders and employees to embody the culture they want at the club and balance time in and out of the office. Many of us got into the fitness industry so we could be in the gym all the time. Let’s not lose sight of that. Enjoy your surroundings! It takes time out of the office, coupled with the right mindset, to establish the culture that makes members and employees stay. Time in the office should be limited and targeted. You may need to:
- Quickly understand the key metrics and state of the business.
- Decide on the actions that will move the needle in a favorable direction.
- Schedule those actions on your calendar.
- Trust your own leadership, and follow your calendar.
If there is nothing scheduled on your calendar that is keeping you in the office, leave the office and go make some positive culture. Avoid staying in your office and inventing new ways to analyze and move data around. When in doubt, get up and out of the office.
It takes time out of the office, coupled with the right mindset, to establish the culture that makes members and employees stay.
Technology, Resources, and Growth
What technology do you use to increase efficiency in your workflow? What functionality is that technology missing to help you work as efficiently as possible?
The calendar in Outlook has become increasingly important for managing time. It offers several vital elements, including:
- Setting repetitive tasks and meetings as reoccurring appointments
- Having a color-coding system of different types of actions, which helps to know what your day/week consists of
- Offering information about what free time there is to schedule out culture and business-driving actions, which has been a game-changer
The better-leveraged calendar, coupled with tools that shape thought processes around prioritizing the most impactful actions (based on the Accountability Ladder and Covey’s 4 Quadrants), have been game-changers.
If you had all the resources you could ask for, what is one strategy or solution that you wish you could implement to better grow your business?
It would be great to have a full-time social media marketing driver.
Personal Drives and Incentives
AAPTE is an education, certification and continuing education organization that provides comprehensive, practical hands-on, science-based education and nationally accredited certification for aspiring and accomplished fitness professionals.
What do you love about your work as Director of Operations at AAPTE?
Watching the numbers change through the implementation of new initiatives. I love looking at certified trainer retention, profit/loss improvements, revenue stream increases, and shareholder value increases.
What are your favorite operations/business-related and fitness-related books?
- Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
- Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
- Man Up by Bedros Keuillian
- Traction by Gino Wickman
Do you have a personal motto you live by?
Integrity is what you choose to do when no one is looking. Always choose to do the right thing, even if you’ll never get caught. You’ll sleep better at night.