The Wellness Business Playbook, Part 2: Management Lessons From Pro Sports

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The last bars of the Star Spangled Banner fade. The crowd goes wild. Your team takes the field. “We’re #1!”. Someone else shouts, “Let’s play ball!” Or maybe it’s: “Let’s open those doors and make people healthy!”

Imagine what such enthusiasm could do for your bottom line. Impossible? Not really. Successful sports teams succeed as businesses first.

This week’s top five lessons from the pros:

1. Play like it’s a team sport.

Team players share information, like a pitcher and catcher communicating about each batter. They cover for one another, diving into the void like volleyball players digging out stray balls. They train and cross-train—if one player goes out, another comes in “off the bench.”

Team play ensures each visit receives the same high level of attention and care. Whether you’re a nutritional retailer or in a group medical practice, functioning as a team improves your customers’ experience. Why should a client have to give the same information twice to employees of the same business? Turn customers into fans and spread their enthusiasm and your good reputation.

2. Celebrate on-field achievements.

Every Olympic event ends with the athletes and their moment of glory. Give your clients and employees the same treatment. Celebrate your collective achievements. It’ll send the message that your clients and employees are top performers.

For weight management clients, post before-and-after photos on a bulletin board. Frame newspaper clippings about competitive athletes you’ve trained. For employees, celebrate great customer feedback and client results. Cheer on new certifications and other professional accomplishments. Recognize those who make clients’ achievements possible to make everyone feel like a winner.

3. Make personal appearances.

You’re an expert in your field. That expertise may not draw autograph hounds, but you can draw a crowd. For physical therapists, how about spending a few hours at a footwear store advising customers on finding the right fit? For dieticians, team up with local restaurants to conduct seminars on eating out while on a diet. Personal trainers can offer free stretching clinics before a 10K event.

Then leave behind information on how you can help whip weekend warriors into shape for future races…or help them recover. Like teams benefiting from their stars’ promotional appearances, your appearances get you in front of those who need your expertise most—prospective clients.

4. Hold fan appreciation days.

Everyone likes a great deal. Sports teams use this fact to build attendance. So can you. For instance, attendance for Monday games tends to lag those of other days. What do teams do? Create “Fan Days” with bobblehead dolls, stuffed animals, and other fun giveaways. Move beyond the freebie water bottle and look for creative opportunities in your schedule. Just be sure you link the focus of your Fan Day to your business and your customers.

How about corporate-sponsored promotions? Corporate sponsors are often behind teams’ promotions. Get them behind yours. For a wellness center that could mean giving away sunscreen samples for a sponsor who then underwrites several hours’ worth of free skin screenings. Perhaps a local bakery wants to promote their new whole-grain dinner rolls. Your fans…oops, clients and customers… will remember the fun, and appreciate the concern for their wellbeing.

5. Don’t lose points.

If you follow football, you know all about winning the game on offense but losing it on penalties. And Andre Agassi aside, points in tennis are typically lost, not won. Amateur players score more often on their opponent’s misses than from their own brilliant shots.

Focus on the details so that your business doesn’t give up “points”. Little things include avoiding harsh, smelly soap in restrooms and keeping your office walls free of scuffs. For retailers, it means keeping the shelves of supplements and the display cases of protein bars attractively displayed–all day long. It means even if a member is the thirtieth person to use a piece of workout equipment that day, it looks and feels like they were the first.

6. “See the ball, be the ball”.

It’s the classic line from one of our all-time favorite movies, Caddyshack. Golf is about one thing: getting the ball in the hole. Actually, all sports involve one essential goal. So do businesses. Figure out what that one thing is for you. You can’t be all things to all customers. Zero in on where your business excels. Which clients and customers do you hit home runs to? Then organize your business and your customer experience around making that one thing happen. Play your “sport” to win and your bottom line will reflect a winning score.