Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Most Influential People in My Life...#3

#3 Jeff Williams ( my old boss)

As a new manager of a new fitness center, I had the task of building something new from the ground up. Back in 2005, I was hired by the YMCA to head the fitness center in a 1.9 million dollar expansion project for the entire facility. The fitness enter was yet to be built. My interview was conducted on the concrete foundation of the fitness center and my office was in a trailer for 5 months. During that time, I hired 25 fitness professionals including trainers, aerobics instructors, and fitness specialists. I interviewed over 40 people for possible positions and had the painstaking task of learning the YMCA philosophy and mission at the same time. I was working like a dog--conducting interviews, attending meetings, training seminars, and finally organizing my department. It started to come together within 3 months and the facility was looking great!
Once the staff was in place, the machines revved up and the plates shined, the place was open for business. Within 6 months, the fitness center was seeing over 400 exercisers per day, we were cranking between $6000-9000 in personal training income, and we had a $300,000 operating budget. But as a new manager coming from the field of personal training, I had no idea managing also meant dealing with customer service--including listening to member complaints, concerns, staff gripes, machines breaking down, staff call-outs, vacation time, meetings, meetings, and more meetings!
That's where my boss, Jeff Williams comes in. Jeff was the guy that hired me and really saw something in me that he felt my qualifications as a personal trainer could really set the fitness center apart from area competition. I was up for the task of building a facility from the ground up and I accepted the challenge knowing Jeff would be there to assist if I needed it. Jeff was the associate director of the entire YMCA facility and he was a very understanding boss. He was a guy that could share a joke with you and at the same time worked tirelessly to make sure we "hit the numbers". Jeff was fair, compassionate, and expected the best from his management team. Alongside me, he guided me through meetings, customer complaint handling, and marketing. He was encouraging, motivating, and optimistic. I emulated my management techniques from Jeff (as I learned them myself) and it proved successful. Within 2 years, the fitness facility was cranking out the most revenue from any other department in the YMCA including camp, childcare, and aquatics (departments the Y was typically known for). I was constantly praised in meetings for my budgetary feats and Jeff was proud.
After 2 and a half years, I decided to leave the YMCA to get back into personal training full-time. When I left the YMCA, I contacted Jeff Williams and let him know that he was a positive force that help develop my managerial skills. As always, Jeff was grateful and professional. To this day, I use my managerial skills in personal training--which has helped me conduct myself professionally, handle client obstacles, and address demotivation.


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