What happens when you lose an employee? Specifically, what happens when you lose your nutrition coach who has been running the program all on their own? Sometimes you are lucky, and you have some notice. It may be a planned vacation or maternity leave, or they just need to find a different pursuit in life.

Sometimes this happens with no notice at all. An employee simply stops showing up, or they are unable to return to work, or they quit.

If this happened to you, how would your nutrition program or gym handle a situation like this?  

Very recently, we experienced the unexpected absence of a nutrition coach. We needed to act quickly to make sure group classes and nutrition coaching was covered. However, we had no idea how soon the coach would return, and we did not want to step on his toes or take away from his expertise.

If you ever need to test your systems and standard operating procedures, the sudden absence of a coach is not the ideal way to do it. However, it can certainly be an eye-opening experience, even for a gym with great systems in place.

So what do you need to do to make sure you can weather the storm? (1) Know the role of your nutrition coach. (2) Have the right systems in place. (3) Know your nutrition program well enough to step in for a worst-case scenario.

(1) Know the role of your nutrition coach. There are several tasks a nutrition coach is usually responsible for. They meet with and communicate with clients regularly around their nutritional goals and action items. They create social media posts, love letters/blogs, and in-house content to improve the education of your direct audience along with establishing trust and expertise. They build rapport within classes, personal training, or other gym functions. With direction and help from the owner, they even create business relationships for partnering or business to business nutrition opportunities.

Is your coach currently getting everything done? When was the last time you did an audit of the roles and responsibilities of a nutrition coach? In the Healthy Steps Nutrition program, we offer an awesome checklist of responsibilities. To begin with, we discuss what is the nutrition coach responsible for and what the owner of the gym is responsible for. Then, we set up expectations for the nutrition coach to make sure the responsibilities are getting completed in a timely manner.  

(2) Have the right systems in place. After we establish what a nutrition coach is responsible for, we then need to observe and evaluate. Every coach always has room for growth and improvement, and that is why we created a system of evaluation for each of the roles at our gym. Use the responsibilities you have set up and rate them based on how often and how well they are being done. Prior to the evaluation, the owner and nutrition coach should review what is expected and to what level.  

Through this process, you can triage as to what you would need to work on first to improve the nutrition role and client experience. At the beginning of the program, this should happen often; for us it started as one time per week. Then, as our nutrition coach became more proficient we changed to every other week and occasionally it is monthly. I have learned as an owner that monthly is not often enough to really support the growth of our nutrition program.  

(3) Know your nutrition program well enough to step in for a worst-case scenario. If you have the prior steps in place and they have been regularly evaluated, have you thought about what happens if they are unable to complete their responsibilities? As the owner of the business typically this falls on you. How well do you know the roles of your staff? How well do you know the Healthy Steps Nutrition program? Could you step in and take over seamlessly or have another staff member or team that can step in? When our nutrition coach was absent, he had ongoing coaching nutrition meetings that I, as the owner, had to step in to run within days of finding out he would be gone. I was prepared to take over. You want to make sure that you would be too.

How much time are you spending developing each role and task at your facility? Can your business sustain a traumatic change? Would your nutrition program disappear because the person running it was the only one capable?

This is why HSN has both the owner and future nutrition coach go through the initial training process. We have monthly mentoring calls where we recommend the owner is present. In most successful nutrition programs, there is a clear line of communication and trust between the coach and owner, roles and responsibilities are clear and evaluated regularly, and both are constantly striving to improve and grow the program.

Carl Balentyne
HSN Mentor
Healthy Steps Nutrition
www.growyournutritionbusiness.com