Behind the Beetroot

Planet Fitness

The health and fitness industry offers couch potatoes, the obese crowd and those wanting to be in shape, the bodies they’ve always imagined (or seen on the models and movie stars) During the 1990s, Health & Racquet clubs (wholly owned by Leisurenet) capitalised on human cravings to look and feel great in record time and at minimum cost. Some of their sales consultants applied high pressure, “sign the fine print now or the world will end” tactics. It worked. Thousands of South Africans signed up for massively discounted memberships during their public promotions or corporate deals, for years of ‘fitness’. When Leisurenet was liquidated in November 2000, members were still receiving letters of demand for their membership fees. Regulations introduced in 2003, prevent fitness centres from locking you into long-term memberships over three years and allow for a cooling off period… 

With these background warning signs in my mind, I recently received a call from an enthusiastic sales consultant at Planet Fitness. He obtained my details from a family member and wasted no time in delivering the sales pitch of a free one month’s membership (excluding a refundable card fee when you join). He wanted to set up a meeting for a tour of their facility and discuss their membership packages. These days I’m wary of people that insist on meeting you to expound any details of their service. Personal attention trades at a premium in the overcrowded bazaar of the “next best thing”, promising wealth, health and happiness.  So I requested the sales consultant to e-mail me the relevant information. Weeks passed without receipt of the e-mail. Finally he called on the day before the promotion ended (creates urgency), to advise that they don’t have access to computers and can’t e-mail information to customers! My other contacts at the gym verified this predicament. He referred me to their website filled with great pictures and words about the facilities, people, gym timetables and healthy living. But devoid of the information, you need to make an informed decision – membership packages, prices and the fine print. In the connected economy, the role of your sales consultant goes beyond the five minute sales pitch, weekly follow up calls and hiding information until you meet in the flesh. It is time to authentically engage with clients through transparent and forthright practices.

The Unhealthy Department

If you are in the business of garlic, beetroot and lemons, prepare for a long battle in defending the integrity of your veggies and fruits. The Health Minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has sparked enough controversy with the international community and local bodies to fuel a garlic powered atom bomb. Excuse the smell. While the flood of media headlines are hilariously true, it is a tragic affair – damage to this country’s reputation, thousands of HIV positive patients and the Aids pandemic are simmering in the pressure cooker. At the time of writing, the calls for her dismissal have been ignored. SOS for decisive leadership.

HR Forecast

My favourite question of late, to HR personnel on the ground is, “Based upon your knowledge and experience of the HR department and the organisation, what will change in the next six months?”  Some of the responses in their own words:

“ My HR Director will be caught out by management for his
“ I don’t know. I won’t be here”
“ I’ll be on leave when the mess* hits the fan”    (*substituted word)
“ December is a dead month so I can relax in the office “
“ We are on a transformation drive.”
“ We implementing a new model again to replace the others that didn’t”

Until next month, get some exercise, adopt a veggie and don’t forecast too far ahead.

(HR Future, October 2006)

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