THE BEST PART OF YOUR DAY
Merritt Athletic Clubs
Merritt Athletic Clubs, a fixture in Baltimore fitness, is celebrating its 40th birthday. Over the past four decades Merritt has expanded to offer all manner of services, including company wellness programs and construction. One thing has remained at the core: The club’s mission to be the best part of each member’s day, every day.
Q: Merritt Athletic Clubs’ purpose statement is to be the best part of each member’s day. How do you achieve that?
A: Well, it’s not simple. We do it first by hiring and training the right team. They align with our values and deliver daily in their actions and behaviors. It’s the little things — such as cleaning off a member’s car in the winter or walking them out with an umbrella when it’s raining. It’s remembering their birthday or their kids’ little league game and asking how it went. It is more of a global thing, where we need to learn about our members and be a part of their life.
Q: Merritt is actually several different companies under one umbrella. How do the different companies work together to enhance what you’re offering?
A: The three companies have a lot of synergy. First off, we all serve people and we all share similar purposes and values. We all have the dedication to making a difference in how we act and behave. With that said, whenever we open a new location, our real estate group purchases the land, and then our construction division builds it and we manage and run it. Whenever we are working with our members or communities, we are constantly looking at how we can tie each other into our group. For example, when we help a company build its own workout space, we have the construction service group do the work and all the tenants of the real estate division get our lowest price for all their tenants.
Q: Merritt is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary. What do you think is the secret to that longevity?
A: Simply great ownership and delivering a great product. Not settling for what you have always reinvesting in our clubs and teams so we can deliver more to our members and communities. Doing what is right for the customer.
Q: Some of Merritt’s employees have been with the company for 10, 20, even 30 or more years. How do you keep your people around for so long?
A: We hire right, provide opportunities for them to grow within the company and love them like family.
Q: Merritt has a very selective hiring process. What are some of the things you look for in candidates, and how do you screen for those things?
A: First and foremost, do they align with our culture, values and team? If so, then they come in for the process. We do this through a variety of methods — from our interviewing tactics, to observations. We teach our staff how to look at people and provide candidates with questionnaires.
Q: Merritt recently opened up a White Marsh location, as well as an outdoor aquatic complex in Towson. Where else are you looking to expand?
A: We are always looking to grow and expand — it’s simply a matter of the right opportunity. Currently we are launching our wellness programming, which is aimed at delivering an outcome for companies and individuals over 90 days. Several people have completed it and had drastic changes — coming off medications, lowering cholesterol levels, changing metabolic functions and more. We also have several projects underway with our consulting services division, helping create healthier business and workforces, helping training staff and leaders as well as handling the burden of pool and fitness management at several locations. We are also gearing up our internal offerings with summer camps, a potential after-school initiative, a speed-training program and more. It’s an exciting time within our communities.
Q: Merritt prides itself on listening to its members. How often do you collect feedback and how is that feedback implemented?
A: We get feedback on a daily basis through our customer survey software Medallia and we contact each customer to understand, learn and improve upon what we do. I’m included in that daily process as well: I spend time in clubs every day, talking and listening.
Q: What appeals to you personally about working at Merritt?
A: Simple — it’s mine. What I mean is that I view this as my family — it’s part of my life. I have been here for 16 years and look forward to the future. Everything we do, everything we stand for, aligns with my personal values, passions and goals. Our team is my family and I am theirs. We have shared births, wedding, deaths, graduations, everything you can think of and we always support and love each other. When you have an organization that is dedicated to people first and foremost and not just the business, like Merritt, then you have something special. That is what everyone wants to be a part of.