Jen and Brian Lewis have put a lot of thought into the boundaries they’ve established for the parents at Gym-Fit. They’ve tried to keep doing business with them as simple as possible while still establishing parameters to help their gym provide the highest possible level of services.
Gym-Fit keeps basic policies consistent for team and rec parents and then provides an additional handbook that details league regulations and competitions for team parents only.
Making Boundaries Crystal Clear
When parents register their children for classes, Gym-Fit staff thoroughly reviews the rules with them. At this point it’s the basics: payment policy, make-ups, how to drop, who to contact for specific topics and needs, and how to ask questions. Upon registration, Gym-Fit also uses the mass email feature in Jackrabbit to send an electronic file of Gym-Fit’s policies to each registered family.
“We offer a free trial. At the end of it we have another opportunity to review basic policies with parents. Whatever wasn’t clear before can be re-addressed so that all boundaries, policies and expectations are crystal clear.”
Parents receive constant updates about everything their child is involved in. This comprehensive communication is made quite simple by once again taking advantage of mass email feature in Jackrabbit. The lines of communication for questions and requests are always open.
From initial registration, parents know how and who to contact for specific needs. Account and payment question go to billing, skills questions go to coaches. The front desk is a direction point where staff makes sure that parents head in the right direction with their questions.
Being Smart About Setting Up the Business
The decision to set their business up this way has helped Jen and Brian keep departments focused and productive and parents well-informed with accurate information that is obtained first-hand from the correct source.
“It was a very conscious decision that we made to hire very specifically. Coaches coach and administrative professionals run the office. There is no crossover. And that means we minimize inconsistencies and confusion that can result from second-hand information.”
Because of these boundaries, it’s quite easy to have an open door policy with coaches so parents can get skills questions answered quickly and accurately and with billing because no one has to hide from answering questions that they aren’t equipped to answer.
Not only does this help maintain departmental focus, it keeps issues of payment that parents should be dealing with from muddling the learning environment.
Boundaries Eliminate Doubt and Uncertainty from the Equation
Jen and Brian have found it best to have electronic documentation of information such as drop notifications from parents. No verbal or hand-written notifications are accepted. This keeps it simple to find notifications and makes it clear when there is or isn’t evidence of a notification.
Handling questions and problems is another area that has established boundaries. Parents are directed to direct this through the office.
“We’ve equipped our administrative staff with authority to handle most situations. We’re very customer service oriented and always try to resolve things with a ‘How can we make things better?’ attitude. But when things begin to deteriorate, as owners, we step in.”
Gym-Fit is a disrespect-free environment. Respect of one another is required from both the parent and staff perspectives. When parents become aggressive, irate or out-of-control, the situation must be handed over to the owners for resolution. Taking such confrontations out of the hands of staff, draws a line for parents and allows staff to more easily maintain composure in front of other parents and students.
Jen and Brian find that boundaries help in serving their two groups of customers: children and parents. The coach must be in tune with the child so that the child is happy and learning. Staff makes sure that parents have a smooth experience by keeping them informed and engaged in the gym’s activities.
Jen and Brian have found that the child has more to do with the parents’ perception of the gym experience than they first believed and therefore it’s very important that they are well-informed. They also realize that students like to learn things from other students.
Inspired by this knowledge, they established a mentor program among their newest and most mature students. When a new student comes in, she’s matched up with a veteran who takes her “match” under her wing – providing policy dos and don’ts and shepherding the newbie through learning skills, preparing for performances, and beginning to compete. This goes far beyond information about proper class behavior and attire. It works like magic to inspire strong relationships that create better and happier gymnasts.
The mentor program also works like magic to liberate staff from this responsibility and allow them to concentrate on staying in tune with parents.
“Without boundaries, our business doesn’t have a structure to depend on. When there are questions or unusual circumstances, we would have nothing to look to for guidance. We believe it’s absolutely crucial to being successful at providing amazing experiences for our families.”
Gym-Fit Sports Center | Jen Lewis | 248-470-5882