“Customer-First” Attitudes

When it comes to delivering sports, fitness and aquatics activities to soldiers and their families, the Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) staff at Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia is the best in the Southeast region of the U.S. Army’s Installation Management Command.

But managers and staff aren’t resting on their laurels. They’re too busy staying on top of the always-demanding, sometimes rapidly changing recreational needs of the present, while planning for the future–all with an attentive, responsive ear to customers’ needs.

Stewart-Hunter was named Outstanding Sports, Fitness and Aquatics Program for the Southeast region based on the installation’s extensive renovation and upgrading of swimming and fitness facilities, coupled with providing programs and personal touches that meet the needs and add to the comfort of their customers.

Some examples:

A $2.8-million renovation project added about 10,000 square feet to Newman Fitness Center on Fort Stewart, allowing for an aerobics room and an additional weight room. The indoor pool at Newman also was renovated.

Hunter’s Tominac Fitness Center, built in 2007, added and improved programs and events to complement its new facility. A fun-filled, cardboard-boat regatta attracted post-sponsored Boy Scout troop members and Child, Youth and School Services youth among its competitors. A Zumba class became an instant favorite, and belly-dancing classes proved so popular that provisions had to be made to accommodate more participants. The outdoor pools at Bryan Village and Corkan Family Fun Center on Fort Stewart were renovated to ease access for the physically challenged.

Spare No Expense

Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield offer adult intramural sports, including softball, flag football, soccer, volleyball, track and field, tennis, golf, basketball and racquetball. They also field a team for the annual Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C., and present the Rock of the Marne marathon on Fort Stewart. Depending on deployments, sports staffers can be working with as few as 20 teams or as many as 100.The sports staff organizes and supports intramurals from registration all the way to installation championship competitions.

FMWR Recreation Chief Larry Cutchens says customer needs and wishes are at the heart of building plans, renovations, and new and current programs, which are adjusted by comparing the services here to services found outside the gates.

“We benchmark against the commercial sector and the military sector to see what the top-of-the-line, the state-of-the-art is,” Cutchens says. “We go after the best equipment [and] the best facilities that money can buy. We try to hire the best recreation specialist people, the best fitness people that we can get.”

He adds, “Our managers are always researching [and] talking to people to see what we can do to make our facilities better. We want the soldiers and the family members to have the best facility there is on the market. They deserve it, so we should strive to give it to them.”

Cutchens praises staff, “who are in place to manage those programs and activities. They meet and greet the soldiers and the family members, and they know best what we need to do to give our soldiers and their families the best that money can buy.”

Feedback Matters

Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE), a system used throughout the Army, is a key source employed in finding out what customers like or don’t like.

“We use that a lot,” Cutchens says, “because [soldiers and families] are our customers, and they are coming into our facilities every day. They know what they want, what works well. We read those ICE comments, and try to respond within 24 hours.”

He says the personal, day-to-day contact that managers and staff have with customers also helps in determining whether the facilities are meeting the needs of soldiers and their families.

Beyond The Workout

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