The 2016 Motionsoft Technology Summit occurred in September 2016. The event, geared toward executives in the health and fitness industry, educates these attendees by bringing in industry experts from different companies to discuss the challenges and opportunities of technology in the fitness industry. The conversations will continue at the next Technology Summit on Sept. 11-13 in Washington, DC.
After the summit, Motionsoft’s Chief Strategy Officer Al Noshirvani shared with Todd Tweedy, Motionsoft vice president of marketing, some of the key takeaways that came out of the event and how the company can help fitness club operators with the club management software solutions.
Key Takeaway No. 1: There’s room for improvement when it comes to measuring standards.
How is your club currently measuring its operation’s success? Whatever measuring stick you’re using probably isn’t the same one the next club uses. That’s because there really isn’t a consistent set of standards for fitness clubs to measure their success or failure against.
Take the hotel industry for example. It can point a number of different metrics to determine how well a chain is performing: how many nights rooms have been booked, vacancy rates, individual facility performances, etc. Whether it’s a Marriott, Hilton or Comfort Inn, the measuring stick by which they can point to in order to gauge success remains the same: how many people are staying in their hotels and how long rooms are remaining vacant.
The fitness club industry hasn’t been so fortunate in this area, however. Currently, the one metric that operators have all been able to look at to monitor performance is attrition rates.
How can these data standards be created for the health club industry?
A leading club management software company such as Motionsoft would most likely have to step up to get the ball rolling in the creation of standards for the health club industry. Although other organizations have attempted to create standards in the past, they didn’t have much success because the industry wasn’t as focused on this issue at the time and/or didn’t have the technology in place to handle it.
Now, Motionsoft’s solutions, data warehouse and reporting agent have led people in the industry to become more sensitive to the issue. It’s unlikely that every health club would turn to one software firm for its management needs, but if Motionsoft or another company created measuring standards, the industry would at least have a baseline for everyone to follow.
“I do think it’s incumbent on the technology and software providers in the space to provide their customers with the tools that can actually capture the data that we are going to ultimately use to make decisions from,” said Al Noshirvani, chief strategy officer for Motionsoft.
Key Takeaway No. 2: The convergence of healthcare, wellness and fitness is there to be leveraged by clubs.
One of the biggest health-related issues in the country is obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one third of adults suffer from obesity, which could lead to heart disease, strokes, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. All of these conditions could lead to preventable deaths.
The fitness industry could play a big part in helping solve the obesity epidemic, but it needs to take a different approach. Currently, the message is focused on working out to get fit, but exercise is only a piece of the puzzle, according to Noshirvani.
“The approach we’ve taken historically—to promise people that if you walk into the gym on January 1st, then by June 1st, when the summer season starts, you’re going to look like Taylor Swift and her friends on the beach—is just not real,” Noshirvani said.
The convergence between healthcare, wellness and fitness is an opportunity that many clubs haven’t begun to scratch the surface of. Rather than push exercise alone as the cure-all for obesity, club operators can adopt this recent convergence and show their members how incorporating elements such as nutrition and rehabilitative medicine play key parts in their health. Then, the club operators could sell itself as a full-service health facility, not just a place to work out.
What else would have to be kept in mind with this process? After a fitness club decides to make healthcare part of its focus, protecting members’ health records is its top priority. Fortunately, clubs wouldn’t have to shoulder this burden on its own; Motionsoft can help with patient information security and would stay on top of the regulations it would have to be responsible for, such as HIPPA. The key thing for all sides to remember in a situation like this is that the information belongs to the club members, not the club or the software firm it uses to handle everything.
Key Takeaway No. 3: You don’t have to be an expert to leverage technology.
Embracing technology can be intimidating, especially to a novice. The good news is you don’t have to be overly technologically savvy to get ahead and use it to get ahead in this industry. For a minimal investment, clubs can leverage technology to promote their brands. Solutions such as social media accounts, building an online presence with your club’s website and Google Adwords are a few places you could start.
An example is Equinox, which operates 83 full-service clubs in New York; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Miami; Chicago; Boston; Dallas; Houston; Washington, DC; London and Toronto. Equinox is a well-known commodity in this industry. Its brand recognition has not stopped Equinox from continuing to embrace technology as a way to grow its brand.
For example, look at how Equinox used its social media channels and the upcoming New York City Marathon to get non-members to try its club out in just a few steps:
- It notices people who “liked” the club’s posts when they mention they’re training for the New York City Marathon
- Equinox reaches out and invites them to participate in the club’s marathon training program
- The non-member now gets exposure to Equinox, increasing the chance he or she will become a member
Key Takeaway No. 4: Health clubs and software companies can communicate better.
One of the challenges that software companies face is that operators don’t necessarily want to change their existing business process in order to optimize the way their software is designed to perform. Instead, software companies are put in a position where they are building numerous features that do not really have an impact on a club’s business needs.
Part of the reason for this issue is a lack of understanding on the operator’s part, which could be solved with guidance from the software companies. Noshirvani suggested rather than just sitting the operator in front of a computer and showing a software solution demonstration, suppliers need to explain why their course of action is the most beneficial to the club.
“[Club operators] really need to understand what are the big rocks that are going to determine the success or failure of this project,” Noshirvani said.
Another reason many clubs aren’t happy with their software is the expectations set during the sales process are not met with the end product.
Motionsoft has managed to avoid this situation by:
- Doing an initial business analysis to make sure both sides are a good fit. “Now, the customer or the prospect at the time would pay for that business analysis, but the return on the investment is huge because you don’t waste time or money. You would end up with a software solution that you know is either going to work or not work for your business,” Noshirvani said.
- Getting an understanding of the customers’ needs before the contract is signed
- Offering a modular platform that lets customers decide what elements they think will bring the most value to their club
From the customer's perspective, it’s important to remember to get a firm grasp on what elements are going to determine the success or failure of your club. Motionsoft’s platform is flexible, so it can be tempting to add feature after feature to your program, but try to keep it to only ones that will help your club move forward.
Whether it’s developing an app, boosting your website’s content or building an omnipresence on your social media platforms, technology is a crucial tool not only for your club’s marketing strategy but also for its retention efforts.
To recap, here were the key takeaways from the discussion:
- There’s room for improvement when it comes to measuring standards
- The convergence of healthcare, wellness and fitness is there to be leveraged by clubs
- You don’t have to be an expert to leverage technology
- Health clubs and software companies can communicate better
This round of the Technology Summit is finished, but Motionsoft’s work is not. Some strategic initiatives the company is thinking about now include providing customers with more actionable data and insight so they can ask the questions that need to be asked about their business and leveraging its mobile payment platforms. The discussion will continue at the next Technology Summit on Sept. 11-13 in Washington, DC.
“We have historically been on the forefront of technology in this space," Noshirvani said. "We had gift cards before anyone else had gift cards. We had data warehouse, and now that is the cool word that everyone throws around. We intend on staying in that thought-leader position.”
This content was sponsored and written by Club Industry's content partner Motionsoft.
Founded in 2004, Motionsoft is the leader in software and solutions for consumer-based businesses, including gyms and fitness clubs, corporate fitness facilities, hospitals and universities. Motionsoft’s comprehensive software solutions are used by more than 2,500 innovative businesses that require technology-driven member, facility and payment processing. Motionsoft’s software suite includes MoSo™, an enterprise software solution designed for large fitness operators and MoSoClub™, a club management software solution for small and mid-sized businesses. Our integrated gateway for payment processing, MoSoPay™, processes $2.5 billion annually through our software offerings while supporting more than 5 million gym memberships in the United States and Canada. Motionsoft Full Service™ is the fitness industry’s most powerful member services and accounts receivable solution that helps clubs keep their past due members active while getting member accounts current. Motionsoft is also the host of the annual Motionsoft Technology Summit. You can learn more about Motionsoft by visiting http://www.motionsoft.net or by calling 1-800-323-1005.