How Europe’s largest boutique club is using data analytics to drive recruiting efforts.

Third Space uses a data-driven recruitment strategy to enhance member experience

London-based, high-end boutique operator, Third Space, is using a unique method to enhance its members’ experience, tracking data from class cover requests to drive its recruitment strategy.

Third Space, which has 200 instructors across its five health clubs, uses smartphone-driven workforce management platform, OurPeople, to manage its group exercise class cover (class subbing); and has been extracting data to unearth where help is needed most.

You’re only as good as your worst class

Antony Stewart – Third Space

Head of Group Exercise, Antony Stewart explains: “…so even a couple of examples where members rate the instructor two out of ten will pull your average down. The cover instructor needs to be as good as the regular one! I know this first hand, as at the gym near my home we have some really high-quality instructors, but if they’re not teaching I reconsider attending. So we know just how vital it is to get that right every single time.

“Using OurPeople, when a team member requests cover for their class it’s sent to everyone qualified, to register their interest. The group exercise manager then decides who’s best to teach the class; it’s been working beautifully for us. We’ve taken the data from that to make critical strategic decisions; it tells you so much about what’s going on in your business. We can see who’s asking for the most cover and when, how far in advance they’re asking and which class categories need the most support.”

Based on these trends, and with the member experience at the heart of that, tactical decisions can be made to recruit more instructors at specific times of the day or days of the week.

“Driven by this data we no longer have to advertise generically for group exercise instructors, only to discover, after significant time investment, they can’t work certain days or times of the week,” says Stewart. “We can simply advertise and then audition for Pilates instructors on Sunday mornings in East London, for instance. It’s completely changed the way we recruit. We have fewer people attend, because of the criteria, but they’re all relevant, so there’s a lot less wasted time for everyone.”

In contrast to sector standard, Third Space is actively reducing the size of its instructor team and even has full-time teachers on its books. “We’d rather have fewer people teaching more classes,” continues Stewart. “Rather than have an ever growing list of cover instructors, typical in this industry, we want a smaller team who are committed to Third Space and don’t work anywhere else. So we pay them well and make it the best place to work.”

Knowing what’s ‘normal’ has been key to Third Space’s success, and, allowing for five to six weeks holiday per year, expects instructors to teach their own classes around 85% of the time.

Stewart explains: “We spotted an opportunity when we noticed cover was not being centrally monitored in the industry. In a chain, class cover could be through the roof at one club compared to another. But unless someone or something is overseeing the entire estate, each club won’t know what ‘normal’ looks like. For us, it’s been a big eye-opener into what’s going on in our clubs.

“Previously a few instructors were asking for cover between 30–40% of the time. It’s been a really useful people management tool in this way too, as it gives us the opportunity to address issues with staff that are continually asking for cover, as well as recruiting differently.”

Using the data from OurPeople, Third Space has already reduced the number of classes covered by 3%, which is having a positive impact on the members attending its 4,000 classes every month.

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