Home » Episode #479: Will Coker’s Strategies for Fitness Industry Staffing Challenges & Retention

Will Coker emerged as an innovative thinker in the realm of club operations, a field where he's spent 24 years honing his expertise. His journey into entrepreneurship began when the seeds of an idea took root along with his Co-Founders, who held influential positions on advisory councils and boards across various other HALO-sector companies.

Coker's role as an operations savant and an informal staffing consultant made him the go-to person for his business-savvy cofounders. These discussions, covering a wide range of issues, hinted at a market need that Coker realized needed to be addressed. 

Leveraging his extensive experience and the strategic acumen of his Co-Founders, Coker helped start Fibr, a venture that would capitalize on the gap in club operations staffing and advisory services, setting the stage for what would likely become a dynamic and responsive business solution. Will and his team remain at the forefront of the issues surrounding recruiting in the HALO space, and is ready to steer Fibr to meet the demands of an ever-evolving market.

Private Equity Impact on Fitness Industry: "What we found is as we started partnering with some operators on their staffing challenges, and one of the things that's really cool about our industry in 2023--and you know this better than anyone, Pete--is we've had all this private equity money come into our industry. 20 years ago, it was the same 4 or 5 companies. Now we've got all of this investment and their studios popping up everywhere, which is awesome."

Key themes discussed

  • Health clubs face staffing issues; seeking solutions.
  • Operators need to realize people are the product.
  • Created direct connection, offer consulting for operators.
  • Building app features for easier employer search.
  • Health clubs transform into talent-filled event venues.
  • Flexibility and benefits are crucial for applicants.

A few key takeaways:

1. Direct Connection and Career Placement: Will underscores the critical need for creating direct connections between fitness professionals and operators to ease the staffing challenges. His emphasis on career placement services for fit pros highlights a proactive approach to nurturing a robust workforce within the industry.

2. Innovative App Development: Fibr is developing an app designed to streamline the recruitment process. This digital solution aims to facilitate easier access for operators to find qualified staff and provide seamless consulting services, which exemplifies the fitness industry's shift toward technological integration to solve traditional problems.

3. Changes Post-COVID: The episode delves into the evolution of the fitness industry post-COVID, spotlighting the need for operators to adapt to the distinct preferences of Gen Z. This demographic looks for flexibility and opportunities to build their personal brand, thereby challenging the industry to innovate and cater to these new demands.

4. Industry Adaptation and Independent Operators: Will highlights the importance of the fitness industry's adaptation in meeting changing employee preferences, such as the desire for better benefits and flexibility. Independent operators, in particular, are encouraged to offer unique experiences and work venues that resonate with the modern workforce's needs.

5. Focus on People: Coker drives home the point that the success of brick-and-mortar fitness facilities heavily relies on the strength of their people. The discussion with Pete emphasizes the significance of considering labor as an investment and the impact of knowledgeable and passionate staff on customer satisfaction and retention.


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