The concept of the town hall meeting derives from the traditional town meetings of New England. They were open to everyone in the community, and were a chance for people to voice their opinions and ask questions, with the goal being to strengthen the community.
This is the same concept behind the town hall meeting’s at both Patty’s MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver and Devin Glage’s RAW School of Fitness in Penetanguishene.
Both schools have found town hall meetings to be incredibly useful for all parties involved.
While Patty has been hosting town halls for two years, Devin held his first one in April of this year discovering it is a great way for clients to give feedback in a public forum, and also for him to explain his vision to his community.
For Devin specifically, the meeting gave him the chance share with his community information about the business and coaching evolutions RAW has been working on with the MadLab group, as well as to address the constructive feedback he received from surveys his clients filled out prior to the town hall. They talked about every topic under the sun: From upcoming events at RAW, to policies involving bringing kids to the school, to personal training, to the MadLab business model. The more transparent, the better.
(As a sidenote, Patty suggests lightening the mood and serving booze to help ideas flow freely, and to turn it into a less formal, social event).
Following the meeting, Devin put out an incredibly detailed pdf to his clients that included the main ideas from the meeting, so anyone who missed it had the chance to really dig into what was covered. Here’s an excerpt from the pdf to give you an idea of how he explained his vision:
At RAW there are 3 key parties involved. You—the client—your coach, and me the business owner. For our relationship to be successful a few critical things need to happen:
1) You trade hard earned money for the time of your coach, and expect service on par with the amount of money you exchange.
2) For that money, your coach trades their time and earned expertise. They also pay a bit of the money received to the owner for use of the space and equipment.
3) The owner provides the facility, equipment and environment. They have also absorbed all of the risk associated with opening the business, and thus need to make enough to cover expenses plus make a small profit. Otherwise it’s a charity/hobby and not a business.
For this business to be sustainable, every party in this equation must be happy with the exchange. Did you get the service/value you paid for? Did the coach get paid a professional wage for their time? Did the owner make the client and coach happy while still making a reasonable profit?
Together with our sister gyms, we have developed:
a). A Coach Compensation structure that rewards excellence and performance as well as gives the Coach unlimited potential to earn a professional salary.
b) A Coach Development System to continually educate, and keep on top of new information, and;
c) A graduated Student Development Process to ensure quality control. All of this helps to standardize how we run things and ensure that each client receives that same level of service.
And, of course, these meetings also provide an opportunity to discuss contentious issues, like programming—a topic where everyone seems to have an opinion. Again, feedback was taken, and Devin had the chance to explain RAW’s vision of good programming. He wrote:
It was expressed in the survey and at the meeting that people want more info on our programming schedule. What our focus was, and what was coming up in the future. If you were not aware before, we program our strength cycles in 3 month blocks with monthly skill/accessory focus. We commit to doing a better job of informing you of what is coming up in the next few weeks/months in terms of strength programming. WOD’s will still be random and a surprise. We will be using our new (under construction) website as the hub for programming info. Daily WODs will be posted regularly, as well as useful and relevant content. Keep an eye out for that beginning in June.
Ultimately, one of the big things town hall meetings do is give you a little more time to really dig into the concepts of your business—and to really sit down and listen to your clients feedback and questions—the end goal being to develop a mutual understanding and trust within the community.
Host a town hall meeting at your box today and make it your own!