At some point, every growing business must hire staff in order to continue scaling up. Unfortunately, by the time many martial arts business owners are finally convinced that they need someone, they are so buried by past-due items on their must-do list, that they’ll start throwing money or trades at the first person who offers to help them out.
Hiring a generic “second set of hands” may feel like your only option when you’re deep in the trenches, doing everything you can to keep the walls from caving in. But, if you’re actively implementing solid systems in your business, that chaos is only temporary. It doesn’t make any sense to design a long term staffing strategy to deal with a temporary situation.
With each new hire, you have a prime opportunity to make a giant leap toward the ‘next step’ in your business. Your next hire should fit seamlessly into the environment that is one step beyond where you stand right now. For example, if you’re buried in the trenches, hire the person you’ll need to operate on the ground level. When your feet are firmly on the ground, try to get a 100 foot perspective of your academy as you begin thinking about splitting your time, working both ‘IN’ & ‘ON’ your business.
After 100 feet, try to pull back to 1,000 feet, continuing to remove yourself piece by piece from the day to day operations. When you, as the owner, can step back and look at your business from a viewpoint of 10,000-20,000 feet, other members of your team will be completely responsible for returning calls, answering phones, appointment setting, sales, & even teaching.
At that level, it’s YOUR job to examine the entire ‘machine,’ see where it’s headed & make decisions based on factors that people ‘IN’ the machine might never see or understand.
Spending more and more time off the mats might sound crazy to you, because your love of jiu jitsu/MMA/martial arts is what inspired you to open your school in the first place. But even if you enjoy teaching, your business needs an owner, a captain, to keep the ship moving in the right direction. The captain can’t be the guy swabbing the deck and hoisting every sale.. (Not because he’s too good for it, but because he’s got more important things on his plate that ONLY HE can do.)
So, how do you staff your gym to continue to scale up?
What are the first steps? & Where do YOU fit in to the larger picture?
The best staffing decisions are made when you can rise above the day to day chaos, get a bird’s eye view of your academy, & clearly assess it’s needs and direction. And, the easiest way to do that is to divide your business into 3 “Pillars” labeled “Growth,” “Operations,” & “Vision.” These ‘3 Pillars’ represent the main responsibilities and objectives in your academy.
Setting up this structure, regardless of the current size of your team, will help you limit future growing pains & prevent you from being in a situation where you have one or two ‘irreplaceable’ staff members. How many times have you heard someone say, “If So & So left, we’d be screwed...”? That often comes from not really knowing what that staff person does, but just feeling like you couldn’t do it all by yourself. If that sounds like YOU, then you have a ‘personnel’ based organizational structure.
This ‘3 Pillar’ organizational model is based on OBJECTIVES, not personnel. Your staff members serve important functions to meet the objectives, but because you’ve identified the most important function of each position, you have a key metric that can evaluate the effectiveness of every employee. If a staff member isn’t meeting your parameters, you either provide them with more training so they get better at their job, or you replace them with someone else who can better meet the objectives. But you’re never held hostage by one employee thinking he/she knows more about what’s going on in your business than you do.
In the next few articles of this series, I will lay out these three divisions in detail, and explain how they will help you accomplish some of the most well known Combat Business Goals and guiding principles. But for now, let’s talk about YOU.
Where do you fit in?
The next step is to firmly cement yourself in the role where you will remain, regardless of whether you have one employee, or 50.
As the Owner/CEO/Head Coach/Admiral/Supreme Leader.. (I won’t judge what you write on your business cards) You are in charge of the “Vision Team.” You are responsible for determining the course for the entire academy.
The Vision team creates the business plan, vision statement, and mission statement. You decide what you teach, if you want to add or cut a program, streamline your offerings, or even add another income stream to reach a new audience. You are also responsible for overseeing the success or failure of the other ‘Pillars.’
So, if you’re tired of spending your days in the trenches and you’re ready to staff your academy for GROWTH, stay tuned to the next few blog articles where we’ll continue to break down the “3 Pillar” ‘Objective-based’ organizational structure that will change your day to day life AND help you take your academy to the next level.
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