As 2020 Approaches Health Clubs Must Become More Driven By Insights From Data

As 2020 Approaches Health Clubs Must Become More Driven By Insights From Data
By: Bill Davis

Gaining actionable insights from data should be a priority for health club and gym operators to compete in the fitness industry today successfully. The importance of this has been amplified over the past few years as technologies continue to emerge and competition in all industries, including fitness, evolves.

The team at ABC Financial listens to what is on the mind of fitness business owners and operators and what we hear a lot about is the need to use data to gain insights and to improve important functions like member acquisition, retention, billing, and operations. If there's one thing many fitness businesses and health clubs don't lack, it's data. With today's advanced digital tools, it's possible to obtain data from more sources than ever before.

Being data-rich, however, doesn't always equate to gaining insights from that data. Therein lies a big challenge and opportunity. Transforming data into business insights requires having a complete picture of the member journey. It requires having the right tools, the right people with the right skills, and right systems to turn that data into valuable and actionable insights. If doing this was easy, everyone would, of course.

You simply cannot manage what you do not measure. Health club and fitness business owners, operators, and executives must identify ways to evolve their operating models from being simply data-aware to insights-driven in order to excel. This evolution is key to supporting member-focused strategies including attracting, serving, and retaining members while boosting profitability, raising market share, and outperforming competitors.

Achieving these objectives, however, is not as simple as just looking at the numbers. You need integrated solutions that lead to insights resulting in actionable business outcomes. How do you quickly and efficiently get the full 360-degree view of your customers and your business given all of the right measures you need?

To execute a sound business strategy, decision-makers need member-focused, strategic, and real-world ways to measure finances and operations. Without this capability, health club brands and fitness businesses can't link operational results to strategy. Organizations will find it difficult to get a coherent view of their internal and external processes, customers, logistics, operations, and finances.

Companies in the health club industry that have learned how to turn data into insight will be the ones that have greater success. Forrester research refers to these companies as "insight-driven businesses." They are smart enterprises that use data, analytics, and software in closed, continuously improving loops to differentiate and compete. ABC Financial Services has helped many of its clients achieve their business objectives by doing just that.

As the following examples show, insight-driven businesses which have relied on the expertise and solutions offered by ABC Financial have a competitive edge, and the time to make certain your fitness business is going down the path of becoming insight-driven is now:

1 Insights drive business growth

In the 2017 report Insights-Driven Businesses Set The Pace For Global Growth, Forrester found that insight-driven companies are on pace to make $1.8 trillion annually by 2021. In the same report, Forrester found that insight-driven organizations are growing eight times faster than the global GDP. This new group of high-performing data insights companies are growing 30% year-over-year, according to Forrester's research.

ABC Financial has helped fitness businesses drive growth by using data insights and technologies. The growing fitness brand 10 Fitness pursued becoming insight-driven with the help of ABC Financial’s expertise by leveraging data and technology to improve billing and collection processes. With personalized reports on financial performance, membership, and sales delivered via ABC Financial systems, 10 Fitness gained insights while saving time in the back-office so they could focus more on member-facing operations, as they added new locations. This was key to their being able to execute their growth strategy. You can learn more about the 10 Fitness story here.

2 Smart organizations are integrating insights into their businesses

Leading companies who embrace insights based on data outperformed their peers as confirmed by Forrester, and they were confident that their customer intelligence and insight function was "strong." Gaining insights positively impacts many areas of businesses, including marketing. Nearly 50% of chief marketing officers who used marketing intelligence experienced improved customer satisfaction, according to a 2017 study.

In ABC Financial’s recent Fitness Industry Innovation podcast “Disrupting Marketing In the Fitness Industry”, Tom Wingert, Vice President of Marketing at City Fitness in Philadelphia, shared his views about the importance of data to gain business insights for marketing. The story of City Fitness highlights a wonderful entrepreneurial journey. With the support of ABC Financial, founder Kevin Davies and his team have built a very successful multi-unit fitness brand that has grown from 60 employees to 300+ employees, and from 6,500 members to 15,000 members in a short time.

City Fitness is redefining what digital marketing means in the fitness industry by delivering ultra community-based, hyper-personalized experiences in all of his locations. The team at City Fitness represent the nature of rising and leading present-day fitness, health club, and gym entrepreneurs and professionals that our team at ABC Financial love to support, help, guide, and service.

Helping smart fitness industry innovators like City Fitness build insights is part of our history. You can learn more about how we have helped fitness entrepreneurs, like City Fitness and its founder Kevin Davies, realize their growth aspirations here.

3 Becoming insights focused and capable is challenging

According to Acxiom, 70% of businesses have little to no ability to integrate customer data. Although customer data is getting increasingly important, only 17% of businesses say they have integrated insights across their entire organization. Often times the challenges of becoming insights capable, include overcoming the problems of switching to new platforms and technology tools, which can seem like a daunting task for some health club operators.

ABC’s experience and expertise have helped many accomplished fitness brands navigate the challenges. One example is the Claremont Club. When they realized their software provider at the time did not offer the functionality and services they needed to grow a major concern CEO Mike Alpert had was the difficulty of making changes. So Mike came to ABC Financial with these challenges and was presented with a course of action to overcome them.

As with Claremont Club, ABC provides a team of experts during the implementation process who install new hardware and software. Our team has been performing installations and supporting system changes for many years. As Claremont’s CEO Mike Albert attests, “I’ve been through 6 software conversions in my career. The conversion with ABC has been by far and above the best one I’ve ever experienced.” Learn more about Claremount Club’s story here.

4 Becoming insights focused is achievable with help from the right partner

Research reflects that up to 40% of the insights created and delivered by reporting data are not actionable. In addition, 42% of organizations strongly agree that silos are harmful to generating quality insights. To solve this problem, companies should consider selecting the right partners to provide guidance in implementing efforts to achieve greater insights from data including the elimination of multiple non-integrated systems.

ABC Financial helps many fitness brands benefit from our experience and systems, which include eliminating fragmented solutions. Bernie LeCocq, owner of River North Gym, learned about ABC Financial through his REX Roundtable. He was very unhappy with the operations of the many systems they were using. ABC Financial was recommended to Bernie and his staff by other industry leaders and decided it was the best vendor partner they could choose.

As Julie Finn from River North Gym recently mentioned in this article from Club Solutions, “streamlined billing, better and more accurate reporting, more efficiency for all employees, more transparency within the company, more capabilities to manage and see what team members are doing, ability to lock down or allow certain actions within the software, and much more. We also believe it will give our staff a better overall sense of security when processing and reporting on all financial transactions. It will allow our members to view information about their membership they have never been able to see before. They will easily have access to information, billing, classes and much more. Customers love to know what is going on, so this is huge and such an easy way for us to communicate with our members. Our members will also enjoy having more financial security and understanding, which our previous partner did not have and actually made us lose members because of.”

By partnering with ABC Financial to combat their challenges and improve core internal business operations, the River North Gym team could focus more on member services. ABC Financial provided gym management software and payment processing solutions which worked well for River North Gym and helped them gain insights into their fitness business.

Having a trusted and capable partner to guide organizations through the process of adopting data to gain insights that help to achieve growth, enhanced profitability, and member service is key. There are some important things to keep in mind when selecting a technology vendor partner and explain why ABC Financial is the vendor of choice for leading fitness and health club brands. You can learn more about those here.

5 In the end, insight-driven fitness businesses will win

In the fitness industry, an insight-driven fitness business means better member relationships, a more seamless member experience, better and faster product and service development, and a focus on actionable data. When it comes to things like member retention, for example, an insight-driven member experience is essential. Those health clubs and gyms with excellent integrated, omnichannel customer experience retain 89% of their customers, according to SuperOffice. As we know, customer retention translates into profitability. According to Deloitte & Touche, customer-centric businesses that focus on digital insight are 60% more profitable than those that are not.

In the fitness industry, ABC Financial believes that insight-driven businesses already have an advantage compared to those still sticking to their old ways. To remain competitive and excel in the fitness industry, the time to become insight-driven is today, not tomorrow.

Our team at ABC Financial would enjoy the opportunity to discuss how we can help you become an insight-driven fitness business. Contact us today.

About ABC Financial Services

ABC Financial (abcfinancial.com) is a premier provider of technology and related financial services for the health and fitness industry, renown for exceptional client service for clubs and their members. Its market-leading billing and collections solutions automate the revenue cycle that enable owners and operators to achieve better financial performance, all in a Software-as-a-Service and cloud-based platform. ABC’s comprehensive technology solutions include DataTrak advanced health club management and MYiCLUBonline extensible member engagement platforms that allow owners and operators to efficiently manage employees, members, resources, sales and drive improved member engagement. Founded in 1981, ABC helps more than 7,000 health clubs across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico perform better and more profitably. ABC Financial is a Thoma Bravo portfolio company, a private equity firm based in San Francisco and Chicago (thomabravo.com).