There probably isn’t a company more perfectly aligning the interests of staff and customers than Weight Watchers.
For starters, all of its employees are former customers, successful and satisfied ones.
Carol McMahon, the receptionist at the new Weight Watchers store in the ShopRite shopping center in Somers Point, said a friend convinced her to try the program. She lost weight as desired, kept it off and became a lifetime member.
But what really convinced her of the value of Weight Watchers came next.
“I walked away and thought I could do it on my own. I put back most of the weight I’d lost, so I came back and took most of it off again,” said McMahon, of Galloway Township. “They support you with group meetings and healthy guidelines, and everybody has experienced the same things you have.”
Karen Wagner, of Egg Harbor Township, joined Weight Watchers in 2005 and hit her goal of losing 25 pounds in 2007.
After a year as a receptionist, she moved up to leader, the position that runs the many weekly meetings that are the core of the Weight Watchers method.
“Being a leader gives me a lot of motivation to keep the weight off, just knowing I’m in front of the room and touching lives out there,” said Wagner, 42. “And I get ideas from members in the meeting room that help me stay on track.”
Weight Watchers is all about motivation — myriad ways and incentives to take the desire to shed pounds and turn it into an unstoppable will to do what’s necessary.
Members famously weigh in at each meeting, revealing to others their progress toward their goal, or lack thereof.
There’s also financial motivation. Once the weight-loss goal has been reached and then maintained for six weeks, one becomes a lifetime member and Weight Watchers services are free — as long as the weight is kept off.
And for employees, there’s the additional motivation of remaining good examples of how the program can succeed and keeping their jobs.
Kathy Miller, the regional territory manager for Weight Watchers, embodies the kind of long-term career and weight loss that are possible: 26 years with the company, after originally losing 54 pounds.
She, too, started in a part-time position, and became a manager in 2002, she said. Her other two stores are in Turnersville, Gloucester County, and Voorhees, Camden County.
Miller also has 23 other meeting locations — at community sites such as churches and veterans halls — and a total of 83 mostly part-time employees.
Her 88 meetings a week are spread throughout Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties, and half of Gloucester and Camden counties, she said.
Meetings provide group discussion, support and “the accountability of the scale” as members weigh in, she said. “We talk about the challenges members have and celebrate their successes.”
Recent meetings were also used to roll out ActiveLine, a personal activity monitor that works with the company’s online tools so members can focus on calorie burning as well as calorie intake.
Weight Watchers offers a variety of meeting plans, online plans, and a monthly pass for $42.95 that includes unlimited meetings and online tools.
Weight Watchers International is a publicly traded company and a socially responsible one as well, if you think of its 45,000 meetings each week as part of the battle against the global epidemic of obesity and excess weight.
The latest estimate from the World Health Organization is that 35 percent of the Earth’s people were overweight and 12 percent obese in 2010, and WHO expects those numbers to swell to 40 percent and 15 percent by 2020.
Weight Watchers International, founded 50 years ago next year, had revenues of $431 million in the third quarter, up nearly 3 percent from the year before, and earnings of $67 million. Total paid weeks were up 9 percent, and online subscribers increased 20 percent.
Miller said the new Somers Point location, ready just in time for New Year’s resolutions to shed pounds, is the kind of full retail store the company is trending toward.
In addition to about 14 meetings a week there, customers will find food scales, measurers, bowls and snack products portioned to fit into the program, she said. “They’re not a meal replacement, but designed to satisfy a craving for something sweet or salty.”
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