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Document! Document! Document!

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Melissa KnowlesMelissa Knowles

If I have one phrase I utter more often than any other while navigating our wonderful business of fitness, it may well be some variation of: "Is it documented?" I get it; no one wants to take the time to write it all out. It's time consuming, and you could actually be doing it rather than writing it down. But, here's the thing: it's absolutely key to your long-term growth and success that anything essential to your business' operations or health be in writing. To get you started on your adventure into the world of proper record keeping, here are three areas in your fitness business where I consider proper documentation to be of paramount importance:

1. Policies and Procedures. Think of your Policy and Procedures Manual and/or your Employee Handbook like the playbook for your business. They lay out expectations for team members, explain the business objectives behind those expectations and provide the framework for how to carry them out. Sitting down and committing your business essentials to writing is important for several reasons:

  • It causes you to really "think through" how you're carrying out the day-to-day. Do your policies make sense? Are they easy to adhere to, manage, and in some instances, measure? Are they legally compliant at both the Federal and State levels?
  • It memorializes when a policy was put in place. As your manuals are updated, the latest versions should be time-stamped. This ensures that, should you need to follow-up on when a new initiative went live, you can do so easily. Example: Knowing when a paid-time-off (PTO) policy went into effect and having it clearly detailed in writing makes it easy to explain when a team member questions their balance.
  • It gets everyone on the same page, literally. A written policy eliminates mistakes and misunderstandings. It creates consistency among different supervisors and as the members of your team change.

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