I 've written in previous columns about how your members are demanding tools in your clubs that run similarly to the technology they use on their existing personal platforms outside of the club. I've told you how important it is to provide this for members. Now, I have to tell you that some of your members are still resisting technology. Some members are so overwhelmed by having to learn new technologies in other parts of their lives that they don't want to have to learn it at your clubs. Adding another layer of complexity may make some reluctant to embrace new technology while exercising.
But don't let that discourage you. The challenge is to market and create a path for your members to understand and use technology in a simple and easy manner.
This is particularly important for the Baby Boomers in your clubs. Most of the Generation X and Millennials in your clubs are already smarter than most Baby Boomers will ever be about new technologies. The Millennials are instrumental in helping push and develop new technology for the next generation of members.
The key to success lies in highlighting technological improvements in your marketing materials, club tours and sales presentations but keeping messages simple while assuring members that the technologies that you offer — from USB keys on treadmills to scanable check-in procedures to workouts you can download — are user friendly. If you don't show how valuable and easy to use these technologies are, then you might as well save your money and energy and forget about buying them.
If you are up for it though, you should consider following some suggestions on how to market the technology to your members. First and foremost, you'll need to sell the benefits of the technology to the members rather than the technology itself. You can safely assume that most of your members, particularly Baby Boomers, are impatient and already are working on integrating new technology into other parts of their lives. The health club should not add to this stress but rather eliminate it and make exercising easier.
Marketing and integrating any new technology needs to be extremely simple. Provide just three or four messages that allow members to use any technology that builds on their current routines. In addition, invest in hands-on training for your staff as part of integrating new technology into your club. Nothing is as powerful as having a well-trained staff available (particularly in the first few months of introducing any new technology) to show members how to use the technology and answer questions. The technology must create excitement, aid in retention and adherence, and provide a monetary return on investment.
Highlight and demonstrate new technologies in all sales presentations and new-member orientations. Make sure that your fitness staff sticks to focusing on just the key points, and most importantly, only the features that are of benefit to an individual member. This can only be done if your sales team asks questions of prospective and new members before matching the features of your technology to their individual needs. The most common mistake that clubs make is to “feature dump” — provide too much information to new and prospective members. They won't care about technology unless it serves a purpose that benefits them.
Our industry is narrowing the gap between simply dazzling technology and technology that is simple and makes a difference. To be successful, you must make the connection between technology and your members. Otherwise, it might lead some members back out the door.
Gregory Florez is CEO of FitAdvisor Health Coaching Services and First Fitness Inc., which was rated as the No. 1 health coaching online training service by The Wall Street Journal. Florez can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.