With 200 instructors working across its five clubs, communications and managing class cover is a challenging issue, according to Third Space’s Head of Group Exercise, Antony Stewart.
“I had noticed a trend of people using email less. In a more stylish, millennium world it’s old hat. Our instructors are aged between about 18 and 30 and use WhatsApp and snapchat — half won’t even open email,” says Stewart.
Third Space partnered with smartphone-driven workforce management platform, Our People, to revolutionise the way it communicates with staff, and since its launch at the end of last year, 90% of the company’s instructors have signed up and are engaged on the platform.
“I wanted to explore how we could turn what was essentially a tool for remote workers into a tool for the group exercise world. Our slant was instructors who work across multiple sites, not necessarily people that don’t have access to a computer. How can we communicate effectively with these instructors?” continues Stewart.
“We spent the first six months fading out emails and pumping all our communications through the Our People to encourage our 200 instructors to engage with it. Once a week we send a series of stimulating and interesting messages, including the anatomy and physiology update as well as a motivational quote from our mind/body team. I also share my recommended ‘track of the week’, with insight on its genre and BPM for those that may want to buy it. We’ve now got 180 of our instructors using Our People on a regular basis. The remaining 10% will need to engage quickly or they won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of class cover that it offers.”
Third Space is the first club to use the platform to manage cover for its group exercise classes. Our People CEO, Ross McCaw explains: “A big difference between boutique clubs like Third Space and traditional leisure centres is how they manage cover of group exercise classes. Traditionally a leisure centre will look to management to organise class cover, whereas in the boutique market they actively encourage team members to ‘own’ their classes. For Third Space we built a way for instructors to ‘broadcast’ cover requests directly from their App, meaning they can truly take responsibility for covering their classes.”
“The response indicates to me that this is the way of communications for the future. This App could literally change the way the entire group exercise industry manages class cover,” says Stewart. “As with many other operators, for Third Space organising class cover was previously random, unsupervised and uncontrolled. As a business we want to have better insight.
“Now, using the App, an instructor can quickly and easily message everyone qualified to teach their class, with those confirming availability sent to the group exercise manager to sign off, providing two checks to ensure the best person possible covers the class. It’s working really well and brings us totally into 21st century in the instructors’ eyes; they expect Third Space to be ahead of the curve.”
Whilst Stewart points out they never cancel classes, his mission it to ensure members enjoy first class experience whether it’s their usual instructor or a replacement. “Our members have the right to expect ten out of ten cover all year round; it’s not acceptable for it to drop to seven out of ten for five weeks of the year when their instructor is on holiday. Our People will enable us to deliver this.”
McCaw continues: “The Third Space management team have full visibility over who covers which shift and managers can even approve this process. The great news is traditional leisure centres are also now using elements of this new feature and we’re seeing some really great feedback.”
As well as managing class cover, the App also acts as a diary, a messaging system and an educational tool, enabling instructors to enlist on education programmes, including surveys and quizzes, as well as search and view operating procedure manuals and action plans.
“All our signature Third Space classes have comprehensive training behind them,” continues Stewart. “Every quarter we run an intense day-long training session for each and every class. We want to know at the end whether our instructors have understood and enjoyed what they’ve learned, so we use Our People to broadcast surveys and quizzes to follow up and test their knowledge. That’s really important to us.”