Leaders in Franchise Operations Management Series
When I first spoke with Corey Koskie I wasn’t aware that he was a professional baseball player that had recently retired from the Minnesota Twins. But within just a few minutes of our conversation, I could tell that he was a different breed of business owner with advanced coaching and people skills.
The Importance of Feedback
What caught my attention was his awareness and focus on constant feedback about his business. Koskie remarked, “In sports it’s often times difficult to self-assess your true weaknesses or vulnerabilities. It may seem that your batting swing or stance is perfect, but a quick look at the video replay tells a completely different story. Same goes with business.”
When Corey Koskie first opened his two Planet Fitness gyms in Minneapolis, Minnesota he had no way to easily tell what people thought about his gym operations. Were clients happy? Would they refer their friends and family? So he set out on a mission to discover what clients did think about his business. After months of experimentation, he eventually came to NPS (Net Promoter Score) surveys.
An NPS survey is basically a questionnaire that targets a customer’s loyalty to your business. Typically it can be answered in one question, but it’s a very revealing question about a customer’s frame of mind. Such as “How likely are you to refer us to a friend?”
Having exact feedback from clients helps Koskie and his staff reach out to in various ways to respondents for follow-up. Most important, NPS helps you have an honest of assessment of your customer’s true loyalty.
Coaching to Success
We also talked a lot about what motivates staff members and how to keep them engaged; regardless of position or salary. One of the biggest challenges these days is keeping staff turnover low. But how do you do that?
At first, Koskie took the same strategy to running his business that he had with his baseball career. Corey would focus on the weaknesses. He had incredibly high expectations and made it a point to call out each and every mistake made by employees. “I would try to coach every mistake, and try to fix everything now,” he explained. “I had high expectations. I would overload them with data, and I would try to coach all the discrepancies. Needless to say, this micromanaging produced a fearful, untrusting environment.”
Initially, in his Planet Fitness gyms the unintentional message he was sending to his employees was “you are not smart enough to figure anything out, so I have to tell you how to do everything!” This type of management style is very common and is often a primary reason for high turnover.
So it was a surprise when one of his most profound insights came from coaching his son’s a little league baseball team. “Because I knew how hard it was to play the game, my expectations of the kids were very low. Since my expectations were so low, I celebrated every accomplishment the players and team made. I did not try to teach the kids every component of the game; I provided a safe environment for them to explore and learn in the context of the game,” he said, adding that this fostered growth and free thinking in a game environment.
It became apparent to Corey that his employee issues were his own fault. After all, he was the business “coach” and was responsible for leading the team to victory. In in order to fix things, he had to cultivate a safe environment for the employees to explore and learn in the context of the game of business.
Koskie realized that he had to change his business strategy, and that he had to do it quickly. After a lot of research, and countless hours reading about leadership, motivation, habits, and management, he came to the realization that he needed to get to his employees heart and there are two primary reasons that employees perform poorly: 1) They do not know what they are supposed to do, and 2) They do not know how to do it.
“This was a game changer for me in my coaching, parenting, and leadership life, because it is evident that the reason for the underachievement of 98 percent of the people under me was me,” Koskie insisted.
Powerful Positive Impact
Instead of focusing on eliminating or mitigating undesirable behavior, Koskie now focuses on increasing desirable behavior. It isn’t about motivating people necessarily, but rather about figuring out how to put people in a healthy and positive environment where they can successfully motivate themselves.
He credits his business success to an approach he developed himself known as PPI or Power Positive Impact. PPI can best be described as giving people attention in the moment. A genuine engagement that gives people the time they want. You never know what is going on in people’s life or what they are dealing with. To understand that caring about a person and having an authentic engagement can save a person’s life. It is looking for opportunities to make a positive impact on a person’s day
The PPI concept first came to Corey when he heard a story from a man that that was getting help from a local charity that Corey works with.
Through some very tragic events this man turned to alcohol to numb his pain. He got to a place of extreme loneliness, hopelessness and become very depressed. He made the decision to take his own life. On his way home he decided to stop at a local coffee shop for a final cup of coffee. The barista remembered him from a couple days ago smiled and took his order. She then told him that she is looking forward to seeing him tomorrow and asked him to come back. Although it may not sound like much, the fact that someone remembered his name and set an expectation to see him again made all the difference. This realization left a resounding impression on Corey — what was such a seemingly small gesture saved this person’s life.
It became very clear to Koskie that with all the traffic in and out of his Planet Fitness gyms, his team had the ability to make powerful positive impacts on people and maybe even save lives.
A short while after implementing the PPI concept, members started noticing the change in the staff. The staff had completely embraced PPI. Corey soon began to hear story after story of how these simple staff gestures were lifting the spirits of gym members. It has been 4 years since he has implemented PPI. Not only does it help keep clients happy and feeling welcome, but it helps staff members feel like they are truly making a difference.
So PPI means more than just doing your job, it means looking for opportunities to positively impact the lives of others. It means having a fulfilling job in any position at any salary. The hope is that Corey’s gyms have a ripple effect on the communities they serve, and that people move on to make their own PPI’s wherever they go.
All in all, Koskie has been able to effectively leverage his baseball skills in order to become a truly successful business owner. In addition, Koskie attributes his success to his constant search for feedback. He loves making people feel like they are part of a team, and he is always searching for suggestions from employees and customers in order to improve his business game. From big league baseball to big league business, Corey Koskie has hit a home run with his two Planet Fitness gyms in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
For more details, you can follow Corey Koskie on Twitter.
Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.