Why CRM Onboarding Is Crucial to Your Club’s Digital Strategy

Customer service and operational efficiency suffer when your staff doesn’t understand your club management software. Here’s how to fix it.

Over the years, health club operators have learned to put a priority on member onboarding services. Acclimating new recruits to your club’s physical environment and range of services plays a critical role in building a long-term relationship. Matching them with an effective training program will keep them engaged for the long run.

Onboarding employees can be just as important. Key staff positions need to grasp your culture and policies through a carefully managed process. Club owners have learned the hard way over the years that slotting in new staff without adequate preparation can lead to a churn-and-burn environment that wastes time and money.

“Onboarding can make or break your employees,” says Kate Golden, director of people and fitness operations at Newtown Athletic Club. “It’s really what’s going to change your employee from being successful in their first three months, six months.”

“Club owners have learned the hard way over the years that slotting in new staff without adequate preparation can lead to a churn-and-burn environment that wastes time and money.”

When hiring employees, club managers sometimes don’t place enough importance on digital literacy. Making sure your new staff members have the capacity to learn and thrive in your club’s digital ecosystem should be an essential part of any onboarding process.

Member experience, sales, billing, scheduling—just about every important financial transaction and customer touchpoint runs through your club management software. As smart equipment, Internet of Things (IoT), virtual workouts, and artificial intelligence (AI) become more commonplace in clubs, the amount of digital integration among all aspects of your operation will increase.

If your club is like many businesses, you may have a digital skills gap among your employees. And in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace, that’s costing you money and impacting brand equity.

Closing the Digital Skills Gap

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Digital literacy is a broadly defined as “an individual's ability to find, evaluate, and compose clear information through writing and other mediums on various digital platforms.” Digital literacy has been called the “fourth literacy” and should be part of any standard education model.

When applied to the workforce, digital skills become more specialized. Whatever software your company uses, there’s a learning curve to understand how to maximize its capabilities. Unfortunately, what many businesses are finding out—often too late—is that too many of their employees aren’t adequately trained in operating their particular software system.

The digital skills gap is widespread throughout diverse sectors—and it’s a serious problem. Research by Fosway Group, Skillsoft, and SumTotal discovered that only 11% of businesses feel that their organizations are staffed with adequate digital skills. Even more to the point, a survey from Accenture found that 49% of businesses said that they did not have a strategy for developing the digital skills they needed.

This skills gap is compounded when you have a lot of turnover in your organization. New employees need time to learn your system, and that means you’re investing time and money into that person. You don’t want to see them walk out the door and force you to repeat the process.

Whatever CRM you use, it’s likely that it’s frequently updated with new dashboards and features (but that’s a good thing). Technology continually changes, which makes retraining employees necessary. Customization also means that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all software template from club to club. Hiring somebody with extensive experience in the industry still requires you to train them to use your club’s CRM.

“Technology continually changes, which makes retraining employees necessary.”

You need to stay on top of it. Employees need help, but they may be hesitant to admit that they don’t fully grasp your club’s digital ecosystem. Research by MIT found that “70 percent of employees expect their organizations to help them develop the skills to thrive in a digital environment, but only 42 percent believe this currently occurs.”

One reason for this lack of training is that many managers don’t have enough confidence in their own digital skills to onboard others. Owners may also put off upgrading their software out of fear that implementation will be too difficult and time-consuming, leading to interrupted services. This puts businesses at a disadvantage against competitors that use the most up-to-date digital tools.

To use your club’s CRM to its ultimate potential, you have to close the digital skills gap. The best people to help you do that are the suppliers of your club management software.

Getting the Most Out of Your CRM and Your Employees

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Today’s health clubs need their software supplier to be with them every step of the way in building out their digital ecosystem. This is a priority for Matrix Fitness. Recognized worldwide as one of the industry’s top equipment suppliers, Matrix has seen where the industry is going and has invested heavily in developing new technologies for health clubs. Their newest innovation is Connected Solutions: a fully integrated digital ecosystem with state-of-the-art software that helps today’s clubs maintain their competitive advantage.

What drives the success of Connected Solutions is the customer service Matrix provides. Under the supervision of Software Implementation Manager Andy Pirlot, Matrix will onboard and train your key personnel in operating their suite of digital platforms. They’ll sit down with you and your staff, sometimes for up to eight weeks, to make sure you and your team fully grasp the technology. The company has also created the Matrix Learning Center consisting of how-to videos, webinars, and other on-demand instructional tools.

The key portals of Matrix’s Connected Solutions system consist of:

  • Asset Management: This portal helps you track equipment maintenance and usage; manage data; generate reports; and create other customer service tools that are customized for your club.
  • Personal Trainer Portal: A powerful communication tool that connects members with trainers for scheduling, coaching, and motivation.
  • Workout Tracking Network: Provides a mobile platform for members to engage with class schedules, workout data, and much more, even outside of the four walls of the facility. It also enables your staff to easily access facility operations to manage calendars, schedules, guest passes, push notifications, and numerous other tasks connected to member activity.

While some of these portals require more training than others, the software implementation team will be with you and your staff every step of the way. Closing the digital skills gap is an important part of maximizing operational efficiencies and delivering superior customer experience.

Health clubs depend on their digital services for controlling costs and managing revenue streams. Your employees need to be well-trained in using these tools to maximize profit. Matrix will help them do that.

To learn more, visit Connected Solutions. To find out more about Matrix’s full line of equipment and other services, visit their website or email them at info@matrixfitness.com.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org