Seven in ten business leaders today are worried about their ability to adopt new technologies according to the 2018 Insight Intelligent Technology Index. 72 percent of business owners feel overwhelmed by their roles and responsibilities according to a 2017 survey by the firm The Alternate Board. Data from the survey has been turned into an infographic by the National Federation of Independent Business which you can find online. This is not surprising given that most business owners, including health club operators, have so much to do with little time to do it in the midst of a period of rapid technological and business change. The health club and wellness industry is no exception with the Global Wellness Institute recently citing a 12.80% growth rate for the $4.2 trillion global wellness economy from 2015 – 2017. You might want to read this recent article: “How Can Health Clubs And Fitness Businesses Take Advantage Of Our Expanding Multi-Trillion Dollar Industry?” to learn more. Health club, fitness, and wellness businesses and entrepreneurs are rushing in to take advantage of growth opportunities while juggling a lot of uncertainty in an evolving and hyper-competitive marketplace being impacted by increasing technological change.
The implications of technology on the health club, fitness and wellness industries cannot be understated. In The Ultimate Health Club Management Guide we discuss the many factors involved in running a health and fitness club business. According to We Are Social, for example, the average US consumer now spends 6 hours and 31 minutes online each day with about half of that via a mobile device. Tens of millions of consumers are now using streaming fitness services, apps, wearables, and new business models are all part of the fitness landscape for consumers and competitors today. At the same time new technologies have emerged and then disappeared rapidly; remember the Blackberry and MySpace? With these trends increasingly impacting operations, business models, marketing, and consumer interactions, how can fitness businesses navigate the challenge of how to evaluate new technologies for their health club to adopt or how it should be implemented? Doing it is hard.
Evaluating technologies for your fitness business is important as an owner or operator. There are five key interrelated questions you should focus on to form the basis of a plan and strategy so that your adoption of technology, to the extent you need it, can be wisely put in place.
Asking yourself where your health club business is now and where is it going objectively is a big opportunity. In the end, technologies should serve a business strategy. Having a strategy begins with the basics of a SWOT analysis: what are your internal strengths and weaknesses and what are your external threats and opportunities? If you have been operating a traditional health club business for years in a competitive marketplace and are seeing declining membership results you might ask “Is it time to sell?”. Alternatively, if you are evaluating becoming a fitness business owner you want to understand how you might best compete because there are a plethora of available models available today that were not on the radar previously. Even more important is the changing expectations of consumers. You might want to read “Consumer Survey Delivers Important Insights For Today’s Gym Operators To Be Successful” to learn more. Additionally, when it comes to strategy in general things have changed so it might be helpful to learn from leading strategic advisors like Rita McGrath. Truly understanding your specific marketplace, capabilities, options, and the stage of your business lifecycle are the foundation for understanding the “why” behind what you might do or not do when it comes to technology adoption.
Are you open to change? A big challenge and opportunity for many fitness businesses is how they view the world and how adaptable they are to change. Today relying too much on past beliefs or being romantic about past practices and what worked back when can doom a business to being unable to see the benefits of change. A “why” mindset that is open to new possibilities is essential in a world full of change. Of course, your mindset must be tempered by the reality of where you are today and where you want to go.
What value proposition and experience do you provide your clients? This can be a complex question. In a growing marketplace diversification or segmentation of your business model can have a large bearing on your ability to execute, target specific clients and deliver a very specific and valuable user experience. The brand SoulCycle, for example, was able to create a specific experience that enabled them to adapt their mobile app and business model in a highly seamless way. The more broad and comprehensive the fitness services are that you provide the greater the complexity in adopting technology. It is essential that you have a clear idea of what you are delivering so that when you are evaluating technology it is more clear as to how it might best be applied from the perspective of the user. The good news is that today cloud platforms enable fitness business owners to adopt a multitude of technology solutions that support user experiences in a way that was nearly impossible and too expensive not long ago. This article, “Frictionless Experiences: What They Are And How They Will Impact The Fitness Industry”, will provide greater insights.
Is your business model sustainable? How you make money, not this month, but for years to come is very important to understand. In the fitness business, as with many industries, often really exploring the economics of the business is really left undone. It requires analysis and deep understanding which takes time, effort, and expertise. Without working capital and a true understanding of costs and revenue opportunities often the wrong priorities and business measures are set. When evaluating the adoption of technology without key economics being understood you might be barking up the wrong tree. Seek economic benchmarks from industry associations like IHRSA and others. Do your homework on your business model. Understand how your business is going to sustain itself in the long run. Explore how can new tech tools can lower costs or enhance revenue. You might want to read this, “7 Keys To Operating A Profitable Health Club” to learn more.
Do you have a plan around your business platform? Execution is key and SAAS platforms that enable the automation of marketing and service functions while recruiting the talent you need are all part of executing in a profitable manner the user experience you choose to create. As costs rise for hiring people, automating low-value tasks so that you can deliver great user experiences using highly trained professionals is key. Delivering this experience consistently in a convenient frictionless manner enables a fitness business to scale. Having your hands around a plan that leverages technology platforms to execute on user experience and economics is key and technology can really help here. Read this article to learn more, “5 Secrets To Adopting Technologies For Your Health Club.”
The next time you are evaluating technologies keep these five inter-related points in mind. Technologies are a tool. If you consider them in the context of your business while answering these questions you can be more clear about what to do, where to go, and why.
Other tools to help you are in The Ultimate Health Club Management Guide.
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Bio of the Guest Blog Author
Bryan O’Rourke serves in a variety of leadership positions in technology, well-being, and fitness. He is a noted keynote speaker, author, and business owner and director of Gold’s Gym Houston, Fitness 24 Seven Thailand, and Vedere Ventures which has invested in Vertimax.com, Motosumo and others. He is President of the Fitness Industry Technology Council which supports the Fitness + Technology Podcast and a member of the IHRSA board of directors. You can follow him on most major social platforms @bryankorourke or visit bryankorourke.com to learn more.
About ABC Financial Services
We are the nation’s leading software and payment processing provider for health clubs, gyms, and fitness facilities of all kinds. Our experience and insights continue to support the growth of leading fitness industry operators. Our seamless integration and relationships with the world’s most advanced technology solution partners enhance member experience and improve retention and profitability. Your fitness business deserves a proven reliable technology and billing solutions provider. Call us at 800-551-9733 or visit our website www.abcfinancial.com to learn more. Subscribe to our newsletter here (link) or Contact us today to learn more.