// The tip that ticks all boxes

by Robert Gerrish

It amazes me how many times I come away from a life experience with something valuable for my business. In many cases, the gems are as simple as they are surprising. Here’s one I was reminded of a few weeks ago that I reckon is of particular relevance to the fi tness industry.

In the midst of a client coaching call where we were discussing some of the issues relating to delegating jobs to others, my mind fl oated off to the plains of Africa. Fear not, I took my client with me as I intend to take you now.

In the early 90s I took a year out to travel the world. While I like to think of it as long service leave after a successful decade, it’s more realistic to say I was completely burned out and in dire need of a change.

Explanations aside, I found myself in Zimbabwe with my dear sister. Here we were in the back of an old Land Rover about to drive off on safari. As we readied ourselves, our guide handed us a large sheet of paper with names and line drawings of the animals and birds we were likely to encounter. There were hundreds of them and alongside each was a little checkbox. See the species, tick the box. Easy really.

The effect of having this checklist was profound. Instead of just staring out the window in amazement, we looked intently at every moving thing and made sure we distinguished between a Great White Pelican and a Pink-Backed Pelican.

In business – as evidenced by my client who had just suffered from a disturbing failing in a key aspect of his work – checklists help ensure we do routine things completely and efficiently. The word that deserves the most attention here is ‘routine’. A potential problem with routine is that our behaviour can become automatic and while this is generally fi ne, such automation shields risk.

Routine without a checklist is a potential disaster waiting to happen. Imagine aircraft safety checks that relied on someone’s memory. Two key examples that benefit me hugely are my checklists for ‘Organising speaking engagements’ and ‘Taking on new clients’. Both have a number of key components and actions covering details that, if omitted, make me look very silly; ‘Didn’t I tell you I needed a laptop for my presentation? Oops’. That’s my version of a plane crash.

In the fitness industry checklists clearly apply to many areas – whether it’s the way a personal trainer sets up an initial session, or the way a facility manager ensures the bathrooms and change areas are cleaned and restocked. Checklists shift us from being a business that displays periodic efficiency (and periodic collapse) to one that is consistently professional and prepared.

Remember also that if you ever anticipate enrolling others to undertake work for you, the process of delegation is made very straightforward when a collection of checklists can simply be handed over.

What checklist is screaming out to be created in your business? Grab a sheet of paper and start ticking those boxes! 


Robert Gerrish
Robert is a coach, author and presenter who works with small business owners to help them develop structure and balance and attract more customers. In 2005 he founded the online resource for independent professionals, www.flyingsolo.com.au and co-authored the book 'Flying Solo'.