Members and clients are the most essential component for success in any health club, gym, or fitness studio business. In today’s economy, however, vendor partners can play a crucial role as well. Choosing the right vendor partner for technology, billing, and collection services, among other aspects of your fitness business, can have a big impact on the success and growth of your company.
Considering partner and vendor relationships is more than just making a “wise choice”. You must know the differences between them and use them in the right manner and at the right stage of your business lifecycle. This is not often an easy thing to do but it is so important. Here are some things to keep in mind as you evaluate your selection of key vendor partners.
The Role Of A Vendor
Vendors are different than vendor partners. Vendors provide specific products or services and often exist behind the scenes as a commodity provider. For example, a cleaning service may deliver a solution to keep your fitness business, gym, or club spotless. You can assure your clients and members that your gym will be clean but you don’t need to necessarily name the vendor or directly involve them in your client relationships. Vendor relationships tend to be more transactional in nature and are not as broad or strategic in their impact. You can more easily replace a cleaning service if you need to in case they fail to perform.
The Role Of A Vendor Partner
Vendor partners are usually solution providers who have a more visible connection with your members or clients or have a deeper impact on your gym or health club. For example, you might have a vendor partner that acts as the collection and billing arm and deals directly with members. You might rely on them for operating critical aspects of your business operations via software and technology services. You might seek strategic advice and insights on trends as a trusted business advisor from your close vendor partners. Vendor partners impact your business in more profound ways.
While both vendors and vendor partners are an extension of your business, growing strong vendor partner relationships takes more effort and time. With a vendor partner, you work more closely together. In a partnership, there are still two different entities, but you have more mutual interest in achieving strategic business goals together.
What Should Matter Most For A Gym Owner When It Comes To Their Vendor Partners?
The most important thing to develop is trust. From day one trust needs to be established. You need to get a good impression right from the start; phone calls and emails are returned for example, meetings are on time, key decision makers are present on conference calls, and more. If a potential vendor partner can’t show up to a conference call at a scheduled time, it can be a sign of future issues with delivery and deadlines.
Getting to know each other and understanding both your businesses goes a long way towards building trust. Most vendor partners can prove trustworthy or not during the introductory phase. If communication is open and the partner is open to discussions and meetings, that is a big first step. The next step in building trust with a partner is to review testimonials or ask for references. Connect with key players on LinkedIn and read through their recommendations. Review their company social media channels; if a vendor is hiding on Twitter, Linkedin, or Facebook, sometimes there is a reason, and it’s usually not a good one.
You’re obviously not going to choose to work with a partner who is new or relatively new to the fitness, gym, or health club industry. When selecting vendor partners, you need to confirm that they are indeed experts in their field and can deliver everything they say they can. Can they back up their words or credentials? Have you read case studies, white papers, or testimonials? How long have they been serving the gym, fitness, or health club industry and what are they sharing on social about their clients and understanding of key trends? Are they offering business solutions and asking you about your vision? For your relationship to work, you need to be on board with their product or service and feel confident that they are one of the best reliable vendor partners available in the fitness industry.
Vendor relationships are simple; if services are delivered on time and as promised, everyone is generally happy. The vendor partner relationship is more in-depth; it needs to be nurtured and grown. It should be more transparent and open. With a vendor partnership, the ideal situation is more strategic so ongoing communications are key. Make certain to evaluate vendor partners for growth potential. As your health club, gym, or fitness business grows, will the vendor partner be able to provide more value and keep pace? Have they helped other fitness or gym brands expand and supported their growth? Who is the ownership of your vendor partner and what is their vision to support growth? These and other questions should be part of your ongoing dialogue.
Respect And Resolution
Partner relationships rarely work if one side feels slighted or unsupported. Your vendor partners should demonstrate respect by addressing issues early on in the relationship and identify targets and expectations. Their experience and insights should enable them to proactively support you before troubles arise. In a vendor partnership it is important that the they take steps to resolve things and keep the relationship on track. Issues and conflicts aren’t a sign of a poor partner relationship, but an inability to identify, address, and resolve situations without mutual respect undermines a solid foundation of trust and respect. Remember, it’s difficult to find good, experienced vendor partners within proven expertise in the gym and health club industry, so when you find one, work hard to keep them
The most important thing about developing a meaningful vendor partnerships are the long term trusted relationships you develop with experts who can have a profound impact on your gym, health club, or fitness business and brand. Some of the disciplines behind identifying and benefiting from these relationships may not exactly be rocket science, but they’re still rules you should live by. As with any business relationship; you will always need trust, good communication and mutual respect with proven experts who can guide you and support your vision and growth. Choose and develop them wisely.
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 integrations and relationships with the world’s most advanced technology solution partners enhances member experience and improves 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. Contact us today to learn more.