It’s almost impossible to believe! A mere 24 years ago, I spent two months in the former Soviet Union and during that trip, the only way I had to communicate to friends back home was by handwritten letter. Long distance telephone was expensive and sparse, especially in the communist bloc, and other means of communication simply did not exist. How far we have come in a mere quarter of a century! Today, technologies like Skype, FaceTime, and near universal cell phone coverage allow us to connect to almost anyone, anytime, anywhere in the world. Technology has not only given us the ability to connect over great distances, it has also increased our relational efficiency. Innovations such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn allow us to keep in touch with hundreds or even thousands of friends in a way that has never been possible before. It is indeed a different world! But, how can you take this revolution in relational technology and harness it at your YMCA or fitness center to maximize your member engagement and help members meet their goals?
Over the course of this blog series, we have seen that engaging the members at your fitness center is all about connecting: having meaningful relational interactions between staff and members. In the age in which we live, we would be remiss in not leveraging technology to maximize these relational connections and thus exercise adherance. Dr. James Annesi foresaw this way back in 2003. In a summary of a research study on exercise adherence he noted that computer applications had tremendous potential to increase staff efficiency and said, “This area is currently being explored, and preliminary testing has been productive.” What was being explored a decade ago has now been mastered! Technological solutions available today are an essential ingredient in the member engagement process. So, are you leveraging these technology solutions to the fullest extent to help you engage and retain your members?
Are you maximizing social media?
The numbers are staggering. Almost 1.4 billion people use Facebook. Over 890 million are on some form of social media every day. The average American spends 21 minutes a day on Facebook. Love it or hate it, social media has become an inescapable component of how people make and develop relational connections. Nowhere is this truer than with millennials. If you are seeking to use technology to maximize your connections with your members, you have to start with social media! As a YMCA or fitness center, Facebook and Twitter are the channels that are most critical to have, but Google+ and Instagram both now have over 100 million users and are worth your consideration.
Getting the most out of social media goes simply posting announcements on Twitter. Think bigger. Are you using Facebook as a platform for communicating the vision for your facility to members, the community, and key shareholders? Are you recognizing members achievements and goals on your social media channels? Are you posting questions about how people are benefiting from your facility or meeting their goals so that you become a communication hub and place yourself in the middle of member discussions?
If it seems overwhelming, find a millennial on your staff and place them in charge of your social media presence. Having someone who is familiar with the different channels and the etiquette for each will be invaluable.
Are you using member onboarding software?
As we have seen in this series, there is no time in a membership lifecycle more critical than the first month. And in this first month, there is no step more critical than the handoff between membership and wellness. It is here that a member transitions from the initial relationship with the front desk staff to the ongoing connection with wellness coaches. Yet far too often, it is this most critical of handoffs that fitness centers fumble. Names don’t get passed on, scheduling is missed, communication is poor, whatever the reason, the vital first appointments with a wellness coach don’t happen, and when this occurs, a new member is 76% more likely to dropout and withdraw their membership.
This is how member onboarding software can make a difference. If you are using MobileFiT’s Get On Board app, your membership question template is on an iPad. These questions are asked and collected effortlessly as the staff member and new prospect tour your facility. So, when the tour is over, membership is just a click away. And your staff member has been able to make relational connections by asking questions about goals, barriers, and workout habits, rather than sitting and watching a new prospect fill out a form. But, most significantly, the membership staff is able to instantly schedule the new member’s critical first meeting with a wellness coach on the spot and all member information is immediately passed to that coach. Leveraging technology to maximize staff-to-member connections.
A seamless handoff between membership and wellness every time!
Are you using engagement software that gives real value to your members?
Now that the new member has been handed off to wellness, the question now becomes, how can a handful of wellness coaches meaningfully interact with hundreds or even thousands of members? Once again, the answer is to maximize their engagement ability by leveraging technology. Just as Facebook and Twitter have allowed us to keep in touch with hundreds of friends like never before, so member engagement software like MobileFiT Coach allow staff members to meaningfully connect with more members than ever before. With the Coach app, coaches start with all the information gathered from membership right on their iPad. They can design custom workouts and push them right to the member’s cell phone. They can use Coach to track the member’s workouts, to see who is struggling and who is succeeding. So when they see them in the fitness room they have all their information at their fingertips and can discuss with the member their progress toward their goals and how to tweak their workouts. They can push them new custom workouts, and even tweak seat positions and range of motion. The efficiency of the coaches is increased, allowing them to engage more members. But, they are not just engaging with members – they are engaging with them in a way that brings value by helping them reach their goals, and that is the type of engagement that keeps them coming back for more.
Other posts in this series:
 Annesi, James J. “Effects of a Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Package on Exercise Attendance and Drop Out in Fitness Centers,” European Journal of Sport Science, vol. 3, issue 2 (2003): 11.Follow us: