Receptionists are the Jack-of-all-trades of any business. They’re also often the ones responsible for creating the best first impression with visitors and customers, both physically and virtually. As such, you’ll want to ensure that you have the right fit for the job when you add a receptionist to your gym or fitness studio. There’s no single “right fit” for everyone—but that’s why we’re here.
In this guide, we’ll talk about how to find the best receptionist for your fitness studio or gym, including whether you should hire someone as an employee or outsource the work, what to look for in a receptionist, and more. By the end, you should have a much better idea of how to get the best fit for the position you need to fill. It’s just one of many steps you need to take to ensure that you’re delivering the level of service that your audience expects.
The Internet has done many great things for business. However, it has also created a world where consumers expect instant answers and always-on support and assistance. It used to be that they were more forgiving of smaller businesses and solo operations like fitness studios and small personal training gyms, but today no one is getting a free pass. Your customer service has to be on point at all times and you’ve got to give people the solutions that they demand.
Part of that comes in having someone acting as the face of your business to handle phone calls, leads, scheduling, payments, and other tasks that require immediate attention. The other part comes in sourcing that “someone” from the right place. Whether you hire a receptionist or outsource one, they’re going to give you the answer that your audience demands and make sure that nothing gets missed.
Of course, to go with that receptionist, you should also have an omnichannel communications strategy in place that includes multiple ways for people to reach your gym or fitness studio, no matter what they need or what kind of technology they’re using. Then, you’ll be able to have a receptionist (or team of them) handle the tasks that need attention when you are busy teaching classes or giving private lessons.
Let’s talk first about the importance of image in this industry, and then we’ll look at the other factors involved in choosing a receptionist.
In many industries, you’re not necessarily worried about finding someone who has previous experience in your exact field. So long as they can handle the duties of a receptionist, the industry can be learned. This is also true for your gym or fitness studio, with a slight exception.
You need to hire someone who is fitness-minded or at least looks the part.
It’s not going to be very inspirational for clients and visitors to walk into your business and see someone who looks like they spend a lot of time on the couch munching away on some cookies in between questions and check-ins.
If you’re not hiring someone for your physical front desk, of course, this is less important. Appearances matter, whether we like it or not, and they’re going to make a big difference in finding the right person for your fitness business. Perhaps you’ve already got someone handling the front desk and you just need support for phone calls, chat, and other services—in that case, you’d want to focus more on professionalism and their communication skills.
Don’t overlook the obvious. It can make or break your success.
When you’re running a business, you generally have a budget that you need to stick to. That is what brings people to wonder about the money involved in adding a receptionist to their team. As with anything, your decision shouldn’t be made based on cost alone. However, you can add it to your list of considerations. If nothing else, a lot of businesses will decide whether hiring or outsourcing is the way to go (more on that next).
Right now, an entry-level receptionist in the U.S. earns between $11 and $14 per hour, on average, with some earning as much as $20 per hour if they have the necessary experience and skills. In a gym or fitness studio, you can generally get away with hiring someone at the lower end of this price range to help reduce the costs. However, you’ll have to remember that it’s not just a salary that you’re paying.
You will also have to invest in the onboarding costs (around $4,000 per hire in the U.S., currently), benefits, overhead, and so forth. Even if you hire a remote employee, you may need to pay for their equipment so they can work from their home office, so be sure to consider all the potential costs here when trying to decide how to source your receptionist.
One of the good things about working with a third-party service is that you can typically get a lot more services for a fraction of what you’d spend on hiring an employee. However, this will always vary depending on who you decide to work with in the end. Consider more what you’re getting for the money and what your gym or fitness studio needs than the cost of investing in a receptionist.
As discussed, you have two main choices when it comes to finding the receptionist that you will work with. You can hire someone as an employee, or you can choose to outsource. Of course, there is a two-fold part to the latter, as well: outsourcing to a remote contractor, or using a third-party virtual receptionist service. There’s not one fit that’s perfect for everyone, so you’ll have to think about what fits your business.
Consider first whether you need (and can afford) an employee. Gyms and fitness studios are often smaller operations and may not require someone who is on the staff and available all the time. Outsourcing offers all the same solutions without the expense of a full-time staff member. If you need an array of solutions but you can’t afford to hire someone, outsourcing or hiring remotely could resolve that.
When you outsource, you’ll also have better access to talent that you won’t find locally. You can use the Internet to find receptionists around the country, and the globe, who offer top-rate solutions for your gym or fitness studio. You will also find temporary assistance and virtual receptionists to supplement your onsite front desk agents.
This is an investment, and for some companies, it is well worth making. For others, this might be what helps you realize that outsourcing or hiring remotely is the way to go. Some companies have great success with outsourcing and using virtual receptionists, so be sure that you at least consider it in your search.
Regardless of who you hire or how you source them, there are some features and qualities that you’ll want your receptionist(s) to have. Their knowledge of the fitness industry or passion for working out is always going to be an asset, but as long as they’re health-minded and can deliver on the receptionist skills and personality, you’ll get everything that you need and can teach the rest.
You will want to choose people who are:
Notice that very few of these skills focus on tasks and duties related to being a receptionist. This is one position where personality goes a lot further than sheer skill. This is partly because of the type of position that it is, but also partly because today’s consumers are demanding better solutions.
A good receptionist will be a true Jack of all trades and be willing to ensure that your gym or fitness studio gets everything that it needs. They will be eager to learn and help you in as many ways as possible. When you hire a third-party service or remote receptionist, you’ll also get a team that can do all of this, and more, without the cost of overhead, benefits, and other employee expenses.
Since we’ve covered a lot of information in a short time, we want to regroup by going over some common questions and answers related to hiring a receptionist. Most of these are topics we’ve covered, at least to an extent. Others offer new insight. In either case, you’ll have more information to help you make the best decision about the receptionist that your gym or fitness studio chooses.
There isn’t a single dollar amount that you can plan for here, but you can ballpark the expense. For example, right now, most receptionists are earning around $11-$14 per hour, depending on their exact position, experience, and other factors. Third-party services and virtual receptionists may have different rates, but they’re usually cheaper than paying an employee so you’ll have to weigh the options.
No matter how you source your help, it’s going to be important to choose a receptionist that is professional, personable, able to multitask and organize, and so forth. They should have strong attention to detail and be able to switch gears with ease. Communication skills, of course, and any office-related abilities, are going to be assets, as well.
Like any employee, you can hire a receptionist whenever you realize that you need one. Whether that’s on day one or not until five years in, it’s up to what your gym or fitness studio needs. If you’re thinking about it, you’re probably getting to a point where it’s time. Don’t put it off because of the cost involved—it’s more affordable than you think. There’s no right or wrong time to hire a receptionist. What matters is what your gym or fitness studio needs.
Your receptionist at least needs to look and act the part if they’re going to be representing your gym or fitness studio. However, when it comes to actual industry experience, that’s not nearly as valuable as their receptionist skills. Always look first for the personality and receptionist-related skills before you worry about their industry expertise. You can teach them about fitness and exercise along the way, but you can’t teach people to be a good fit for this role when it comes to personality.
At Smith.ai, we know all about handling the front lines of business—from fielding calls and messages to sending reminders, scheduling appointments, and other admin tasks, it all can get very busy. And when you’re already busy running your gym or fitness studio, you don’t have the time to dedicate here. That’s where we come in. You can add the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai to your business to handle everything that you need.
Our dedicated agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They can handle all kinds of communications and admin tasks, such as after-hours call answering, live website chat, SMS messages, scheduling, intake, and even payment collection. Plus, we’ll help you craft a strategy to manage all of it so that you can worry less and trust that everything is taken care of.
To learn more, schedule a consultation to learn what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do to improve your gym or fitness studio, from communications to admin tasks and more. You will also find us at email@example.com or (650) 727-6484.