What 3 CEOs Learned After Spending a Day in Their Employees’ Shoes

The former president of Pure Barre, she decided to spend some time in the daily lives of employees’ shoes before stepping into her leadership role after her current company’s acquisition of the brand. 

Sarah Luna, the president of Xponential Fitness, “the largest global franchise group of boutique fitness brands across a variety of verticals,” according to their website, oversees around 250 employees. The former president of Pure Barre, she decided to spend some time in the daily lives of employees’ shoes before stepping into her leadership role after her current company’s acquisition of the brand. 

“I felt it was important to understand the challenges that studios, franchisees and employees were facing on a day-to-day basis,” she explains, noting that Pure Barre was in the midst of determining the best sales model and trying out new membership options. “As a franchisor, it’s my top priority to provide the best support possible to franchisees, so I need to know what kind of obstacles, distractions and inefficiencies are happening at the studio level so we can find solutions and come out stronger.”

She saw “face to face” how those new implementations were impacting employees and clients, starting with a 5 a.m. wake-up to be able to check members into a 6 a.m. class. “I was handling the challenges that our employees face daily, whether that was changing toilet paper rolls in the bathroom or finding a substitute teacher or selling a membership,” she says.

It was this distinct reminder of how hard employees work every day, and how “well-orchestrated and choreographed” the experience has to be, that helped her determine that economy of operations should be top of mind in any decisions the company makes. “I think there’s a misconception that running a fitness studio is easy and success just happens. That is not the case at all,” she says.

The changes from her time in the studios were tangible and specific, “Down to the type of cubbies we were installing in studios to how the brand’s app functioned for members,” Luna notes. She also learned about the degree of fatigue franchise owners were experiencing, through her conversations with leaders at that location, after multiple leadership changes. “So whatever changes we had planned for the brand needed to be thoughtful and proved out. We have to make sure to deliver on anything we roll out across the system,” she says.

She has some tips for other CEOs wanting to give this a try:

  • Do less talking and more listening so you can pick up on “subtle cues” around the inefficiencies and opportunities. 
  • Be in uniform to blend in with the other staff, rather than looking like the president of the company, so people feel comfortable sharing complaints, ideas and feedback.
  • Be open to feedback, even if it’s tough to hear.

Read the full announcement here