How Michelin innovation and product quality can help S&C coaches
Michelin has been a world leader in tire production for 127 years. Their reference guides are the gold standard for ranking the best hotels and restaurants in the world. Their brand is synonymous with quality, performance, durability and innovation. What if Michelin came to your weight room or studio? How many stars would your coaching skills or training business receive from them?
A goal of any strength coach should be to find what the best are doing, regardless of their field, and adopt it into their business and coaching mind. This is why I jumped at the opportunity to tour the Michelin plant in Waterville, Nova Scotia. I believe that, regardless of the field, success always leaves clues and I was certain that there would be “takeaways” from this trip that would help me as an S&C coach. Whether it’s coaching athletes or manufacturing tires, common themes can be applied if you understand how to apply success from outside of the field. Reflecting on it, I had 4 big “takeaways” that myself and other S&C coaches can immediately incorporate into their business or team.
Start with WHY
Making tires is what Michelin does. Why they do it is mobility of human beings. They want to be able to provide humans the ability to freely move about the world from cars to construction to planes. This deeper purpose provides something beyond dollars and cents that every employee can buy into. The way I see this applying to S&C is that we as coaches need to have a deeper purpose for being in the business. It can’t be for our own success and ego. It shouldn’t be because we just like wearing shorts to work. The most successful coaches do it for the athletes they work for, the teams that they’re passionate about or the lives of personal training clients that they can affect. From a programming perspective, having a deeply embedded “why” allows us to be flexible and ever-evolving in our methods.
As coaches, we all agree the high-quality training patterns are important to keep our athletes healthy and strong. But, are they to the standard that Michelin expects of its product? During the last part of our tour, we stopped at the quality control section. For some tires, a handful of them are inspected and, if a flaw is found, they back track and confirm 100 consecutive passing tires. For every one that is re-checked, they go back another 100. At another checkpoint, every single tire is individually and meticulously inspected before being signed off on. Michelin wouldn’t send a bad tire out on to the road, and we as coaches and trainers should feel comfortable signing off on every athlete that leaves our facility. Blown tires can lead to deaths and lawsuits for Michelin. While it’s not life or death for our athletes, we want to make sure everything we do is adding to their performance, not taking away from it, and that we’re providing the safest and best product on the market.
If you were the best in the world, would you still reinvest over 2 billion a year? Michelin does, and it’s what keeps them at the top. Mike Boyle has had a big influence on me in my career so far. In an early seminar, he said that you should reinvest 10% of your earnings towards ongoing education because “a lifelong learner is a lifelong earner”. Unfortunately, most coaches might think that 10% of their salary is too much to reinvest (say 6k on 60k). Michelin reinvests 2 billion Euros per year to maintain a competitive advantage on their competition. If they can invest that much in themselves and employees, then we as coaches should realize how important it is. While we may not have secret methods like Michelin does, we should be constantly innovating our product.
Measure what matters (and provide feedback)
We can all agree that coaching feedback is extremely important to our athletes. Regarding what is important in the weight room or on the track, we generally give them feedback quarterly through ‘testing results’. Meanwhile, Michelin gives performance feedback to their staff daily. The first hallway I walked through had a TV showing live updates of the current production numbers. Production metrics were given and colour-coded in comparison to targets for each division and group of employees. For collegiate coaches, this is the type of ongoing monitoring/feedback coaches should aim to provide their athletes. Awareness is the first step to getting athletes knowing where they stand and competition will rise. For example, if you’re monitoring their 10-yard sprint, vertical jump, RSI or MAS, posting the results ASAP will go a long way. If you’re just starting out with a team or group, then attendance or work ethic ratings could be posted since it doesn’t matter what happens in the weight room if they’re not there.
Training for sport is general in nature. Success in business or coaching comes back to similar general concepts. We as coaches can’t sit back and say “well I’m not a tire maker, it won’t apply to me”, and then turn around and try to explain to a soccer coach and volleyball coach why hang cleans are equally important for their sport when they demand “sport specific” training. Reading and learning outside of strength and conditioning is a competitive advantage in our field. I encourage you to find a successful business in your area and see if you can spend a few hours with them to see how they operate. I guarantee you’ll have “takeaways” that will improve your skill set.
Challenge yourself to be a Michelin 3 star coach or business!