Maintenance and Your Hotel Fitness Center
By Kurt A. Broadhag President, K Allan Consulting | October 2008
In the traditional health club business model gyms either succeed or fail based upon membership numbers. Smart gym owners realize the importance of providing a service that satisfies their customers and view the facility maintenance as an integral component in customer satisfaction. This train of thought is right in line with many current surveys. Studies show that prospective clients rank maintenance and upkeep of a fitness center second in terms of their decision-making process, just below facility location and convenience. Studies also show that current members place even more of an importance on facility cleanliness, ranking it #1 in customer satisfaction. Since the hospitality industry places such great emphasis on providing guests with the best possible customer service it is easy to see the connection of facility maintenance within the hotels fitness center.
Facility maintenance, in the broadest sense, involves a set of defined tasks that, when performed regularly and properly managed, allow for normal day-to-day operation of the facility. The goals of facility maintenance can be divided up into four basic components. First, it involves maintaining the quality of the facility through cleaning and preventative maintenance to prolong the life of the facility. Secondly, it is developed around promoting safety to both staff and guests by making sure everything is in top working condition. Thirdly, it defines cleaning protocol creating a clean, healthy, disease-free environment. Last of all, it involves making sure all amenities within the facility are stocked and available to guests.
The hospitality industry deals with facility maintenance on a daily basis. There are already departments in place, more specifically the maintenance staff and housekeeping that perform daily cleaning and repair to maintain the physical plant and create a clean environment for the guests. Although these components play an integral role in fitness center maintenance there are some key considerations specific to the gym environment that transcend these normal tasks. The first component to consider is the investment allocated to the gym. It seems only logical that, when spending thousands of dollars for each piece of exercise equipment, care is taken to extend the life of equipment to protect your investment. Secondly, given the inherit liability risk associated with exercising, the common thought would be to decrease risk of litigation from injuries on faulty equipment by creating the infrastructure to maintain the equipment and spot potential equipment malfunctions before injuries occur. Although general facility maintenance is a broad topic as described above I would like to focus the emphasis of this article on the important aspect of preventative maintenance within the hotel fitness center which combines cleaning, lubricating, and maintain the fitness equipment.
So what is preventative maintenance with regard to the fitness center? In short, it is a series of tasks established by equipment manufacturers to prolong the life of the equipment. It is important for a number of reasons, both in terms of equipment investment and safety of the clients. The goal of a preventive maintenance program is to maintain the operation of the equipment, extend the length of service time and life of the equipment, identify broken or worn out parts, and to promote safety by preventing injuries caused by the use of faulty equipment.
The cornerstone of any preventative maintenance program is organization of scheduled tasks based on equipment manufacturer's recommendations found in the equipment manuals. Each equipment manual includes important information regarding preventative maintenance, warranty information, troubleshooting of equipment malfunctions, and schematics of each piece and should therefore be collected and placed together in a folder. The log book, specific to each facility, is created based on these manual recommendations and includes equipment information, manufacturer's information, service technicians, scheduled maintenance tasks, usage of each piece, parts tracking, and maintenance incidents. In addition to the scheduled maintenance tasks as per the manufacturer's recommendations, there should be an additional section which includes equipment model, serial number, task performed, date, time, completed by and additional remarks for reach piece of equipment. The importance of the log book cannot be understated as mentioned in my previous article concerning liability issues within the fitness center. If there is an equipment malfunction and someone gets hurt the log book will help to show the fitness center was not negligent in the upkeep of their equipment.
Basic scheduled tasks within the log book fall into three basic categories - cleaning, lubricating, and spot checking for repairing/replacing of worn parts. Cleaning involves wiping the equipment down regularly to remove sweat which is highly corrosive due to its sodium content and can drastically shorten the lifespan of exercise equipment. In addition, dust and grime build-up in other area's such as strength equipment guide rods, cardiovascular motors, and treadmill deck/belt system, reduce the equipment life and lead to early replacement. Lubricating involves making sure all moving parts, both with the cardiovascular equipment and strength equipment, move freely and do not have any premature wear patterns which can affect the performance of the equipment. Finally, and one of the most important tasks involves spot checking all equipment to make sure all crucial parts, such as the frames, cables, weight pins, etc., do not have signs of stress that can result in catastrophic failure The biggest liability risk associated with strength equipment involves the cables/belts. Serious injury can occur from sudden failure. Equipment showing signs of failure should be placed out of commission and repaired immediately.