Manning the Front Desk

The benefits of a front desk.

For some reason, Julie Johnston couldn’t explain why it was so hard to cover Rhino CrossFit’s expenses. She would talk to other Affiliate owners and would come back stumped.

“That was when I realized, oh, it’s our front desk,” she said. “We pay someone to be there 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.”

Seven days a week, there is a person who manages the front desk at the Box in Las Vegas, Nevada. “We’ve always had a front desk just because we always thought it was necessary, but in visiting other CrossFit Boxes, I noticed that other Boxes didn’t have one,” she said.

However, Johnston decided the front desk was worth the cost. She has been to other Boxes, arriving 15 minutes before the scheduled workout. The Coach has then had to stop whatever he or she is doing and come over to help her sign the waiver, pay the drop-in fee, etc. On the other side, she said you can have somebody come in to your Box and not receive any help because the instructor is busy elsewhere.

Although Johnston said the whole idea of CrossFit is grounded in a relaxed feel, based on good coaching versus fancy amenities, having a front desk is beneficial. “You would be surprised how many things our front desk is asked to do,” she said. “They are busy all day every day. I couldn’t imagine if we just had the Coach trying to do everything.”

From grabbing band-aids to helping people sign waivers, Johnston has five front desk employees. Most are part time, but whenever they are behind the desk, she said they are basically the manager of the gym. They clean, they schedule birthday parties and company events, they take care of all the little things that otherwise wouldn’t get done. Ultimately, this frees up the Coach to concentrate on what they’re best at, said Johnston, which is coaching.

They also run the phone line, whether it be calling members who haven’t been around in two weeks or answering questions from prospective members. “We like to get those phone calls answered right away,” said Johnston. “We don’t ever want someone going down the list of different gyms that they could go to because we didn’t answer our phone.”

When hiring these front desk people, Johnston said she looks for personality. However, she noted that having a front desk is not cheap. “So, if you can get it done yourself, like if there’s two people that run the CrossFit Box, that would be smarter if you’re just staying small and limited hours and everything,” she said.

And yet, Johnston also supports the other end of the spectrum. “If you want to make sure that you’re always open and you’re always there, and you’re trying to grow, then it’s good to have one,” she said.

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at