Kyle Zagrodzky is founder and president of iGo Figure Software. He entered the health and fitness industry first as a martial artist. After earning a first-degree black belt in several forms, including kung fu, Ju-Jitsu and various weapons, Zagrodzky trained students in several forms of karate. Later, Zagrodzky and his wife, Brenda, opened nine fitness centers and earned Curves franchisee of the year. Needing a management system to run his clubs, Zagrodzky set out in 1998 to develop a comprehensive, all-inclusive membership and club management software at an affordable price, culminating in iGo Figure Software. Now translated into 14 languages, the software is used in thousands of fitness facilities in more than 50 countries.

During the past four decades, fitness club products and services have evolved into finely tuned masterpieces of sales and membership services ranging from cutting-edge equipment to professionally choreographed classes. Each new year brings exciting evolutions in the industry, but the next big opportunity for club owners is likely already waiting, untapped, on your computer: your member and club data. Effective mining of that data can make the difference between being a good club or a great club.

Mining your data allows you to do the following:

1. Discuss where we’ve been and where our industry is going. The value proposition of a member has changed dramatically since the industry’s early years. In the 1970s, members’ values were solely determined by their monthly recurring revenue, and yet many of the first groundbreaking club owners saw huge profits and exciting exit strategies that made them millions. Today, the vast revenue opportunities available through health club members offer interesting possibilities beyond what our industry founders could have ever dreamed.

2. Expand the range of data you collect and ensure it’s entered properly. Understanding the practice of gathering and entering data can be the difference between boom or bust in today’s industry. New pieces of information gathered from members can equal better member retention and more revenue for your club. Knowing a member’s employer, “friending” a member on Facebook, and knowing both a member’s hobbies and shopping preferences can reveal new sources of income and valuable retail partnerships in your community. Some club owners remark that they have better communication with members and more traffic from their Facebook pages than their club’s website. The industry is changing quickly. Are you changing with it?

3. React before your members quit. Knowing how to read your data can help you predict when members are likely to quit, but more importantly, it can help you design retention programs to proactively decrease your attrition rates.

4. Create a community experience and classes around member hobbies. Member attendance can be increased by understanding how to build small communities in your facility. Classes geared toward runners, cyclers and hikers can bring people together, create friendships and increase longevity. Knowing what members like to do helps differentiate your club from your competition and increases your revenue.

5. Respond to peak member attendance times by appropriately adjusting your staffing hours. You can save thousands each year by comparing staffing hours with peak attendance hours and making adjustments to deliver quality with efficiency.

6. Focus your marketing efforts and see the benefits with less investment. Knowing where your members reside can help you streamline your marketing budget and even tell you where you should be hiring your staff. Direct marketing is not dead, and club owners will be wise to better target the neighborhoods where their members live.

7. Attract the member that matters the most to you. Design your print and electronic media to “speak” to the demographic that is likely to stay the longest and spend the most money in your facility. Design-specific demographic ads and niche marketing campaigns prove highly effective.

8. Track buying and attendance patterns so you can identify who is keeping you in the black. You must be able to identify your VIP members—those who attend and spend the most and those who promote you online. Develop programs that work to fully integrate these members into your gym’s community. They are your bread and butter—or better put, your club’s energy drink and protein bars.

9. Set your club apart through social networking and small community development. Encouraging the development of small communities in your facilities based on hobbies and interests of members can have a positive impact on member retention. Supporting those communities through social networks can separate you from what other gyms are offering.

To get more details about how to mine your member data, view this video of my presentation on this topic, presented at the 2010 Club Industry Conference and Exposition.