Midtown has invested heavily in a robust reporting structure that pulls data from multiple sources, and then automatically provides information in an easy-to-read format to key stakeholders so they can monitor the performance of their department, or group, or of the entire club.
“We also have associate-configurable dashboards, so our team members can pull the customized data information they need to update strategy,” says Dustin Davis, Midtown’s director of business intelligence. “And, when implementing a new technological initiative, we tie performance to the specific KPIs (key performance indicators) that we’re trying to influence.”
Midtown is currently using an RFID member credential to track member purchases, club check- in, and check-in for such things as equipment use, locker use, and group-ex class participation.
The business can change course quickly to test something new, says Todd Thorson, Midtown’s chief technology officer, but, generally, it checks on members’ receptiveness first. “From those informal conversations, I’ve learned that some of the things we might have wanted to try weren’t necessarily good ideas.”
Among the ones that have been shelved, at least for the moment, are facial-recognition check-in systems and Bluebooth beacons, which, for example, allow people to interact with exercise equipment using their smartphones or other devices.
Thorson, however, is quick to share a critical tech-caveat: “Technology, in and of itself, doesn’t affect retention,” he says. “It doesn’t actually solve any business problem, but, rather, gives people the tools they need to solve business problems.
“It’s my team’s job to provide the very best tools, in the easiest-to-use format, and in the most cost-effective way, to benefit the business, which, in turn, benefits the members.”
“We’re constantly iterating and trying to impact member retention,” Davis adds. “But we’ve found that the measurements and tools, themselves, aren’t what drive the ‘retention boost.’ That, rather, is a function of how effectively the club team makes use of them.”
Tech-depth, focused data, savvy strategies, and intelligent, real-world implementation—all are required to achieve the desired objectives.