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How to Future-proof Your Equipment Investment

With margins shrinking from a disrupted marketplace, health clubs need reliability and durability more than ever. Here’s how to get more bang for your buck.

The old saying “penny wise and pound foolish” is common parlance, but most people don’t know where the phrase comes from. It was coined by an English mathematician named Robert Burton in his book The Anatomy of Melancholy, published in 1621. Burton was working his way through a nasty bout of depression, and found that short snippets of wisdom could do much to improve a man’s mood and personal fortune.

We could all use a bit of uplift these days. And from a business standpoint, it’s more important than ever to adopt Burton’s concise directive to optimize your investments. Margins are tighter than ever, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on key upgrades and acquisitions if it leads to a money drain later on.

A more developed version of Burton’s “penny-wise/pound foolish” advice in the business world is the concept of “future-proofing.” According to Wikipedia, future proofing is “is the process of anticipating the future and developing methods of minimizing the effects of shocks and stresses of future events.”

“Margins are tighter than ever, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on key upgrades and acquisitions if it leads to a money drain later on.”

While many business experts think of future-proofing mostly in terms of operational systems and technology, it should also be applied to durable goods. Future-proofing “refers to the ability of something to continue to be of value into the distant future—that the item does not become obsolete.” For health clubs, that means exercise equipment.

This is more relevant than ever. Because clubs have depleted cash resources, upgrades they may have been planning are now going toward other expenses. So those clubs that didn’t place a high priority on equipment that would last a long time are now in a bind. Not only can they not afford new inventory, their current equipment may need numerous repairs and parts.

To future-proof your business and to get the most out of your equipment investment, you need to choose a supplier that designs products that last—and stands behind them with solid servicing and warranties.

But that’s just the start. Here’s what you should look for to future-proof your equipment.

The Goal: Fewer Repairs, Fewer Hassles, and Reduced Energy Costs

Equipment Sports Art limited use man on treadmill column

As stated in the IHRSA e-book, Buying Exercise Equipment for Your Health Club: A Purchasing Strategy, clubs spend an average of $90,000-$100,000 into their initial equipment inventory, with cardio equipment accounting for an average of 45% of this investment. After stocking your club, operators typically spend an average of 3-4% of revenue for “repairs and maintenance.”

Do you know where you fall on that spectrum? You need to be honest about your initial investment and what you spend on maintenance and repairs, then see if the numbers of your club are consistent with favorable margins.

When it comes to repairs and guarding against obsolescence in health club equipment, we’re mostly talking about cardio units. Free weights don’t require repairs, and maintaining resistance machines (especially selectorized versions) don’t drain as much from your bottom line as cardio repairs.

If you’re stocking a new facility or it’s time to do some upgrades to your cardio floor, you need to ask a few questions before you take out your checkbook. Here are a few.

Is the cardio equipment future-proofed from a technology standpoint? You want the machine to keep running, but you don’t want your members to find the machine unappealing to use because they can’t pair their preferred communication devices and/or wearables to the unit. While you can’t predict major technology shifts, you should be able to choose machines with adequate tech sophistication that they can be easily updated.

Does your equipment supplier have reliable supply chains for parts and replacement units? Cardio equipment that’s often out-of-order has a major impact on member satisfaction. Equipment that frequently breaks is bad enough, but if you have to wait days or even weeks for parts, then you’re taking a risk that your retention rates will suffer. To find equipment that’s future-proof, you need a supplier whose supply chains are also future-proofed. Vertical integration, when the company controls the supply chain, will keep your inventory future-proofed. Find a supplier with that capability.

Does your equipment supplier have a warranty that’s worth the paper it’s written on? This is also key. You want a company that stands by their product without reservations. That means covering not just the basic functioning of the equipment but also the wear and tear. And you need to know that a representative from your equipment supplier is accessible whenever you need them to fix a problem. Responsive customer support is essential.

What are the energy costs associated with the cardio equipment you’re purchasing? Part of the equation has to include energy costs. Having a fleet of treadmills that are energy hogs defeats the purpose of spending less on maintenance and parts.

Does the cardio equipment have the “wow” factor? You may wonder what this has to do with durability and reliability. Buying equipment that frequently breaks down is a bad investment, but so is buying equipment that your members just don’t want to use. Just as you need to future-proof your equipment, you need to future-proof customer experience.

Satisfying all of these requirements may seem like a tall order, but this is no time to ask for anything less.

The Equipment Supplier Committed to Future-proofing Your Business

Technology Sportsart Eco Powr Column

It’s difficult to think of a more forward-thinking equipment manufacturer than SportsArt. Famous for their revolutionary ECO-POWR line of sustainable cardio units, SportsArt’s entire product inventory is created with the highest quality parts and engineering concepts that are guaranteed to reduce maintenance and limit wear-and-tear.

The company’s reputation for excellence in customer service and product engineering has been recognized across the industry. Just this January, IHRSA named SportsArt the 2020 Associate Member of the Year. Their products are backed by a best-in-class warranty that’s supported by a fierce commitment to quality control. More than 95% of the components in their equipment are manufactured in-house.

Durability and reliability are guaranteed throughout their inventory, including their STATUS, SENZA, ECO-POWR, and ECO-NATURAL lines. For example, SportsArt treadmills include such advanced technology as:

  • ECO-GLIDE auto-lubrication system that requires less-frequent maintenance, compared to standard units.
  • Flowtec filtration that keeps the motor compartment free of debris and dust.
  • ECO-DRIVE technology that use 32% less energy than standard motors.

You’ll save money on monthly bills, as well. Whether you choose their fully sustainable units or one of their other energy-saving products, you’ll reduce both your carbon footprint and electricity bill.

SportsArt’s cardio machines score high in member satisfaction. They have a sleek, futuristic design and optimized tech options that today’s consumers demand. And if you’re looking for the “wow” factor, SportsArt’s “watts-to-grid” ECO-POWR line will create a buzz with your members who place a high value on environmental issues.

With SportsArt, you’re not just future-proofing your cardio investment, you’re future-proofing your entire brand.

To learn more about SportsArt’s products and services, visit their website or call 800-709-1400.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org