In a previous entry, I alluded to some ‘tumultuous happenings’ at work. Well, two weeks have passed and the plot has probably already thickened as much as it is going to, so I will recount the happenings as told to me.
Almost exactly one year ago (give or take a month or two) the gym (AXA) where I was working was undergoing a mild crisis that started when some members of the clientele (and a staff member) made a concerted effort to draw students to a competitor (Ga) that was had been promising to open a location in the general area. All during this time, we had been steadily absorbing students from a struggling gym (CDA) located close to us. Unbeknowst to most people while this was going on, the owner of CDA approached the AXA owners about fusing CDA and AXA into one.
The situation with the renegade clients and staff member ended with a small group of parents+kids leaving for the competitor (GA, which reneged on their promise of opening a local location). Shortly thereafter, the merger of CDA and AXA was announced. The gyms joined each other during the summer of 2004 when CDA moved in at the AXA location. The staff was effectively doubled, and the new gym was called AXJ. There are/were issues with the transition that I wasn’t informed of, but the original idea was to pair CDA staff with AXA staff. This did happen to some extent… however,in practice, the AXA staff handled the bulk of the instruction whilst the CDA staff involved themselves more with coaching. (Bear with me, i’m trying to stay objective here 🙂 ) . ‘Ownership’ was split between the single CDA owner and two AXA owners, though no binding contracts were involved.
Fast-forward 2/3 of the way through the cheerleading season. The AXJ owners decide that it had become prudent to house the gym at a location with cheaper rent. The former CDA owner took on the responsibility of finding a cheaper location in the area.
Two months later, an AXA-turned-AXJ staffer revealed a bit of news. The owner charged with finding a new location had secured a lease of her own accord and in a phone intended to recruit this particular staffer and another, she revealed that it was her intention to re-open the gym under the old CDA name, naming herself as the sole owner. Other details of her plan included a job offer (with potential to become partner) to only *one* of the former-AXA owners. The other owner would (hypothetically) work only as an employee. Also, 2-3 AXJ staff (all former AXA-staff… of which I myself was included) would be let go.
At the time this news came out, it had the appearance of a very straightforward (even if slightly treacherous) move for position and control of the merged AXJ gym. The gym had to move in two months time, so it was a bit of a squeeze play. Chapter 6 of The Art of War by Sun-Tzu reads:
“You may advance and be absolutely irresistible, if you make for
the enemy’s weak points; you may retire and be safe from pursuit
if your movements are more rapid than those of the enemy.” .
Whether the CDA owner can be accused of miscalculation or ineptitude is a semantic matter. She not only failed to secure the 2 AXA-staffers she intended to recruit, but she also alienated her current AXJ partners by trying to make an end-run of sorts. Amidst her jockeying for position she overlooked:“With regard to ground of this nature [Ground which can be freely
traversed by both sides], be before the enemy in occupying the
raised and sunny spots, and carefully guard your line of supplies.”.
The ‘line of supplies’ in this case refers to the gym clientele. Unfortunately for the CDA owner, she coached approximately 20 kids in the entire gym compared to the scores of kids that received instruction from the other two owners 2-3 times a week for an entire year. Even more unfortunately is that a similar situation exists within the staff, meaning that the former-AXA staff is (far and away) better at instruction than the fomer CDA staff (which is part of the reason they were hemorraging kids to AXA prior to the merger).
After the news and some meetings with the CDA owner, the AXA owners decided to run their own ‘black-op’ to break off and away from entanglements with the CDA owner. What has resulted is the taking of ‘sides’ by AXJ staff into a CDA and former-AXA camp. Excepting the 2 staffers hired AFTER the merger (who are leaning towards CDA), the split has gone straight along pre-merger lines… which is to the clear disadvantage of CDA. As things currently stand, they have precisely 1 instructor capable of peforming a full and 1 capable of of spotting a n elementary school-aged girl in a full (probably only left-twist only), and its not the same person (which means that the person spotting has no first-hand experience actually *doing* a full).
CDA has taken note of this and are continuing attempts to attract more capable staff to their forthcoming location. A reasonable step to take, but the least of their worries (in my opinion). What they haven’t yet realized (or outwardly ackknowledged) is that the clientele’s loyalty is very very likely to run towards the former AXA owners.
However, only time will tell what will happen with the split and the new gym locations. Both factions are getting set to move out after the final AXJ competition this coming weekend in Biloxi. I was thinking of going, but the attending the last hurrah of a doomed allegiance does not sound like it would make for a favorable road trip.
More news to come later, I’m sure
P.S. CDA owner = Kelly, AXA owners = Erik, Reed