Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We're ALL winners

It was brought to my attention that I left you all on the edge of your seats about this year's Curves Franchisee of the Year Award. My sincerest apologies.

First let us remember my very first Curves International Convention in November 2003.  I had been a Curves franchisee for one whole year, managing our two wildly successful clubs.  Business was booming so much at that time that we even naively brought 3 of our employees to Las Vegas with us and rented a nice vacation home.  Don't get me wrong, we had a tremendously fun time together dressing in rented saloon girl costumes for the Costume Party and getting piercings. But we learned that Convention is really designed for owners and managers, not employees who may only work for you a few months longer.

Kristen, Josie, Wiyaka, Barbara Nov. 2003
But it was at this first Convention Awards Banquet that I witnessed the bestowal of Franchisee of the Year awards and silently vowed to earn one someday.  The following year, at the urging of some enthusiastic employees, I went ahead and submitted an application to be considered for a Franchisee of the Year.

Barbara, Kristen, Diana Nov. 2004
Back in Las Vegas in 2004, our company (which now owned 3 Curves clubs) received the Silver Franchisee of the Year Award for the Western United States Region. I believe there were 5 regions in the United States at the time, and around 8,000 Curves locations in total. This same year my sweetheart surprised me by secretly flying to Las Vegas and proposing to me on stage in front of the whole weepy crowd.  That entire experience is a highlight of my entire Curves career, as you might easily assume.  I never expected to receive another Franchisee of the Year Award, partly because I figured they don't repeat winners in the interest of fairness, but mainly because since that time, our business has faced a number of challenges.

But I decided to fill out the extensive award application, partly as an exercise for me to focus on the positive things we are doing right and to consider what we have done to overcome our business challenges.  Curves has suffered as a whole due to various far-reaching influences, not the least of which is the economic recession, so I knew that the company would be looking for owners who found ways to "weather the storm."  When my nomination was completed, I realized that no matter what, we had reason to be proud of our accomplishments.

I was notified by phone a couple of weeks prior to Convention that we had been selected as one of the top 3 franchisees in our region and would be receiving either a Gold, Silver, or Bronze award.  Intermittently during Convention, the Projection Screens featured franchisees telling their stories of conquering business challenges such as acquiring a failing club with a bad reputation, and stories of altruistic humanitarianism such as opening their doors to all members of a nearby club destroyed by Hurricane Ike. Listening to these triumphant accounts made me see that we have a long way to go to be the very best. I did not expect to win a gold trophy if being compared to women like those.

This year we were invited to attend a VIP cocktail gathering only for award-winners and corporate big-wigs prior to the banquet.  I expected to feel lost in the crowd there, but I was surprised to find the intimate gathering in a small room far away from the rest of the crowds, where we had opportunity to visit with our company leaders and fellow recognized franchisees. This was an addition to the ceremony of it all that I found rather special.  My Area Director made a comment that made me wonder if this VIP gathering was actually only for the Gold winners. After all, there were only 15-20 people there and half of them worked for Corporate. I tried not to get my hopes up though. Only the first-place winners go on stage to accept their award, and the idea of doing so was giving me butterflies in my stomach for some reason. Unusual.

After finding our reserved seats near the stage for the banquet, we met the others at our table. In addition to some Area Directors, including our own, the only other franchisees at our table was a couple nominated for the same award in our same region.  Even though receiving ANY Franchisee of the Year Award is exceptional, I found it slightly awkward to be sitting together. Actually the woman made it more awkward for me by going over the top with what was intended to be humility and flattery.

She actually said, "I feel so incredibly honored to be in your presence," among other too-gushy comments.  I mean, we were both there for the same reason.  It reminded me of a pageant contestant leaning over to her rival and whispering with a gleaming smile, "I hope you win, sweetie!" just before her own name is announced and her face looks all shocked but it almost seems like she already knew it would be her. Have you ever seen something like that? Well, it's basically what happened at our Awards Ceremony. Ironically, the more this lady (truly, she was very nice) propagated our achievement, the more I believed that she already knew they were winning the gold.

We received the Silver Award again for the Western United States Region.  This year there were only three regions in the US, and there are over 10,000 clubs in total.

An excerpt rom the Press Release:
Award winners were chosen for their adherence to the Curves methods, their success in providing quality service to members, their level of community involvement, and personal recommendations. While there were numerous candidates in each region, winners typically exhibited an extra quality; something special that set them head and shoulders above the rest.
 “Those honored here tonight are doing everything the Curves way, and it shows in the success of their franchises and in the results of their members. We recognize them for daily helping women move away from disease in an environment of support and encouragement,” said Curves CEO Gary Heavin. 

I do fully appreciate having been selected for any award, although, is it inappropriate to admit I'm glad we at least maintained our 2nd-place status? In spite of the nerves I was feeling, I think it would be fun to walk across the stage one day.  Maybe in five more years I'll have done something Gold-worthy.

We intentionally withheld the news about our award nomination from our staff, saving it for a fun surprise when we got home (except one of them reads my blog, so after my Flashback Friday posted in Nashville, she may understandably have spilled the exciting beans).  But winning an award like this is definitely a team effort, and our excellent "family" of Circuit Coaches deserves it.  We all work hard to make our Curves one of the best locally, so it feels wonderful for those efforts to be recognized by the Higher Powers at Curves.  Go team!
Kristen and Barbara (aka Mom) Nov. 2009

1 comment:

Annie said...

I don't think I said anything...but you know how my mind seems to forget things...

Are you saying I have a big mouth?



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