Technology has become critical to running fitness franchises efficiently and providing and exemplary customer experience. Not only do fitness centers use technology to keep their business operations organized, but members are now using technology more than ever to set fitness plans in place and work toward their goals.
If your fitness center is behind on technology adoption and understanding, you risk losing members to the competition. Here’s an overview of several types of technology impacting the fitness industry today.
Wearable Fitness Trackers
Today’s gym members are increasingly tapping into fitness trackers and smartwatches – such as FitBits, networked heart rate monitors, and Apples Watches – to track their fitness goals and progress. During group fitness classes or personal training sessions, members are now more likely to monitor their calories burned, heart rate and other information via their fitness trackers – and have questions about these metrics. Your personal trainers and group fitness instructors should at least have a baseline understanding of wearable fitness technology so they can provide the best customer service possible by answering any questions customers might have about their progress.
Friendly competition is on the rise across the fitness industry thanks to leaderboard technology. Many group fitness classes – especially cycling classes and high intensity training sessions – now include leaderboards throughout the room to show who is leading the class, encouraging participants to get the best workout possible. In other instances, some fitness centers might post leaderboards for weightlifting, total number of sets, consecutive days in a given class, and more – the options are endless. For gym members with a competitive personality, leaderboard technology will keep them coming back time and time again in hopes of beating their previous personal record – or getting ahead of other members on the leaderboard versus the previous week.
Fitness Center Apps
In recent years, mobile app usage has increased 168% and fitness apps in particular have seen a 62% increase in daily usage. Online group class reservations have also increased by 144%. If your fitness center doesn’t have a mobile app that enables members to check schedules and book classes, and interact with personal trainers, you’re likely missing out on a key segment of potential customers who are more tech savvy. In addition to reaching customers while they’re on the go, fitness franchises that maintain a mobile app can provide a better customer experience, as customers don’t have to risk showing up to a class that is at capacity or has been canceled due to lack of interest.
You can also use your fitness app as an opportunity to incentivize members. If a member checks into your fitness center a certain number of times each month, for example, consider rewarding the member with a free or discounted group fitness class or complimentary massage in your spa. The incentives will encourage members to frequently visit your fitness center and, ultimately, increase member retention.
Everyone has heard of fitness center members taking “gym selfies,” but that’s just a small piece of how social media impacts the fitness industry. Just as tech savvy members demand mobile apps to book classes at your fitness center, they’re also constantly connected across countless other apps and social media platforms. For example, your members might check into your gym on Facebook or tweet about their experience – whether it’s positive or negative. In fact, IHRSA found that while happy fitness clients tell four to five others about a positive experience, dissatisfied customers tend to tell nine to 12 others about a negative experience – you want to create the best experience possible or risk members sharing a poor experience across their social media networks.
Beyond creating the best experience possible for your fitness customers, consider offering social media contests or encouraging customers to post about your fitness center. Increased, positive engagement across social media channels can help you create a sense of community among members and reach new prospective members who see mention of your fitness center in friends’ social posts.
Hire the Right People to Embrace Technology at Your Fitness Center
Rather than feeling threatened by increased technology adoption across fitness center members, you should embrace technology as an opportunity to continuously improve the customer experience. The good news is, most personal trainers and group fitness instructors today are just as active on social media, using fitness trackers, and tapping into other technology similar to your members. Even so, make sure to use skills testing and ask technology-related interview questions during the hiring process to ensure all staff members understand today’s technology and are prepared to answer any questions from today’s digital-first gym members.
To learn more about how to hire the best team at your fitness center, download our eBook, “Staffing Up for Success: 4 Things to Do When Hiring at Your New Franchise.”