Deviating systems

Nina KaufmanArticles, Delegate, SystemsLeave a Comment

On a trip to Santa Monica, my husband and I stopped into 24 Hour Fitness Express. Armed with a free three-day pass and dressed to sweat, I was ready to climb the Stairmaster and pretend to work off the previous night’s dark chocolate lava cake.

Only there was a problem.

I hadn’t carefully read the fine print (my inner lawyer had obviously accepted this time as vacation). It clearly stated the special offer was open to “Local residents only.” No way midtown Manhattan could be “local” to Los Angeles.

The membership counselor took all this in stride, and said, “Let me talk to my manager.”

He reported back within minutes. 24 Hour Fitness Express would honor the three-day pass. Not just for the first day, but for all three days. Wow! I had steeled myself for paying the gym’s day rate. Gratefully, I accepted this unexpected gift—a real bright spot in my morning.

From a systems perspective, though, did this make sense?

Clearly, the Club had systems for membership. Systems for marketing to local residents. In-gym systems for welcoming people. If systems = efficiency, why would/should a company deviate from their systems?

After my workout, I asked the Club manager if we weren’t local, why be so generous?

They shared several important facets of the Club’s philosophy—and their approach to customer service:

• We recognize it’s hard to work out and simple to walk out; let’s make it easier for people to stay
• We’re committed to helping people get fit and healthy in a friendly and welcoming environment
• We see ourselves as ambassadors for the whole network of 24 Hour Fitness clubs

Therefore, in addition to the basic systems there are guiding principles. An ethos. A system for things that fall outside of the system. That’s what empowers a team to use their discretion and make decisions without constantly running back to the owner.

And that’s what frees you up to have your business hum like a well-oiled machine.

We have a program that can help you set that in motion. If you want help developing your approach, get in touch.

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