In the world of fitness, health clubs, and gyms today technology is constantly and rapidly evolving. Technology and the systems aspect of any fitness business are more important to success than ever. How you bill, leverage member data, and interface your platforms with apps among other requirements has become more complex. Choosing a new technology partner for your fitness facility can be an intimidating and confusing task. Who can you trust to help you make the right decisions? There are many technology service options which can cloud the decision process. Understanding the most important factors in evaluating your decision is key.
Here are 5 key points to keep in mind and rely on as you evaluate fitness technology partners for your health club, gym, or fitness facility business:
1. Industry Expertise
Knowing that your technology partner really understands the fitness, health club and gym business is crucial. Good technology partners have decades of experience helping their clients achieve their business goals. The great technology partners understand that their job is making their clients more successful not just providing cool technologies.
When initial conversations with a potential technology partner about your challenges focuses on outcomes, people, productivity, and process improvement, not technology alone, that is a good sign. Great fitness technology partners have a broad awareness of your business, your target market, and how their tools can help you grow. Really good vendor partners, particularly in the fitness industry, will help you define how to measure the success of what they propose. Only then can a good solution that leverages the most appropriate technologies work for you.
Don’t be swayed by exotic flashy technology. Your goal should be to improve your business, not adopt technology for technology’s sake. Innovation is critical to growth, but everything must have a purpose, and deliver a clear and definable return. Great vendor partners help you achieve real-world outcomes, not sell you on the latest shiny technology idea.
2. Customer References
Real-world results are important, not sales talk. When evaluating a potential technology partner obtaining evidence of their success with other similar clients is absolutely a must. A proven technology provider can back up their claims with documented success stories from reputable clients. Don’t take the potential partner’s word for it; ask their customers what they think.
Ask customers questions about how well the potential partner interacts with stakeholders and how effectively they get the job done. If you are evaluating a potential technology partner you might find the best are those that successfully delivered a variety of projects while delivering excellent customer satisfaction which is a great indicator of a partner who’ll work alongside you and deliver on what you need.
Consider asking customers how the partner worked with them when things went off-track. Projects are usually never straight forward, and challenges will emerge when changes need to be made. Understanding how the partner managed these types of complexities both technically and from a relationship perspective is a good indication of what you can expect.
Don’t take risks. Investigate how long the potential partner has been in business and examine how long they’ve kept their customers and their staff. Has industry leadership and associations given them recognition? What brands are using their services? Is their organization highly reputable? Longevity and reliability is the result of loyalty, commitment, and good business practices. Those are the vendors you want to partner with.
3. Real Service And Support
Understand how the health club technology vendor you are considering really supports clients. If you are converting from one customer management and billing system to another, understand what on-site support is included and how it is delivered. A great technology partner will offer a range of support options and they’ll have a dedicated support team with a lot of experience converting systems. Check how well their availability works with your business hours and specific needs.
Support is not just about reacting to problems; it is about ensuring you are maximizing value from your solution. A great technology partner will have the breadth of knowledge and experience to understand and support your business from end-to-end.
Make sure you get a clear picture of what happens after you go live with your new systems. Be clear on whether you have the backing of the whole company, from your Account Manager all the way to the owners of the company.
Explore your potential partner’s business culture. Does it align with yours? Culture determines fit and includes communication style, formality and flexibility, expectations for documentation, and more. You need to be certain that their people will work well with yours. The fitness industry is one based on people and so values are really important when it comes to getting things done. Don’t undervalue the impact of having conflicting cultures. If you and your partner don’t operate under the same assumptions, there’s likely going to be more potential problems. This can lead to surging costs, frustrations, and disappointments.
Keep tomorrow in mind and align with partners that have a clear vision of the future. A great technology partner offers solutions and in the fitness, space has deep relationships and API’s with a wide range of vendors and experts to support your business. Superior technology partners have a vision of how the fitness, gym, and health club industry will evolve and they have gone the extra step to be able to guide you and offer you options. The best partners serve as great advisors who create value well beyond their software and platform solutions. This gives you choices and deeper understanding as to how you want to adjust your strategy as technology and business change. The ideal partner is solution-focused rather than product-based in their approach, so they can offer alternatives to fit your needs. Great partners have a vision that can be highly valuable. Exceptional technology partners understand that the systems they develop for you need to keep pace with your business as it evolves.
When considering and evaluating a new technology vendor partner for your health club, gym, or fitness business keep these five keys in mind. Follow a process that makes sure you will improve your business and have success while avoiding risks, needless problems, and challenges less reliable and less experienced technology partners can deliver.
ABC Financial is the nation's leading software and payment processing provider for the health and fitness industry. We've been in business since 1981 and currently work with over 7,000 health clubs and fitness facilities.