Why Your Gym Needs to Embrace Change (& the Latest Tech)

Change is hard, but not upgrading your gym’s software can lead to a competitive disadvantage.

You know the feeling: You’re sitting at your computer in the middle of a project when you’re interrupted by a prompt reading “Software Update.” You’re then asked to “install now, in an hour, or later tonight.” There’s no option to tell the update tool to “leave me alone, I’m in the middle of something.”

A similar process happens on our smartphones. No matter how you have your notifications set up, you inevitably get interrupted with software-update prompts. In a world of distractions, this isn’t particularly disruptive, but it can be annoying. One reason for that is because everything seems to be working fine. What’s the emergency? What’s the rush?

Now, think of this on a larger, more complicated scale. Your heath club’s CRM program or club management software needs to be updated. Unfortunately, it’s not a minor patch or coding correction that requires a simple restart. No, this is an upgrade that changes the interface and operational controls. It may even require learning an entirely new system.

Your staff may resist the change with an attitude that can be summed up as, “We don’t have the time in the midst of our duties to learn a new software program. Besides, if it’s not broke, why fix it?” You may even agree with them and delay upgrading your club management software. It’s comfortable to stay with what you know. What’s the hurry, right?

Meanwhile, your competitor down the street is using the latest digital services you’re resisting. He or she is accumulating new data and more detailed reports. They’re streamlining their customer service operations and finding new revenue targets, and the new software system is helping them increase efficiency and financial discipline.

Those are all things that any business owner would want. Why give up the advantage of improved operations due to the temporary inconvenience of upgrading your digital system?

The answer: human nature.

Resistance Is Futile … but Inevitable

It’s one of the oldest and most well-known aphorisms of the fitness industry: “no pain, no gain.” It endures because it’s short and simple. Change requires effort. The essence of physical improvement demands sacrifice and sweat. But even harder than changing a physical body of sinew and tissue is changing mindset.

Some think fear of change is caused by simple laziness. Yes, change means more work, but it’s much more complicated than that.

According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the Ernest L. Arbuckle professor of business at Harvard Business School, change creates understandable anxiety in employees. There’s fear of the unknown. Concerns about competence. Many see change as a challenge and a threat.

“Change interferes with autonomy and can make people feel that they’ve lost control over their territory,” she writes in the Harvard Business Review. “Change is resisted when it makes people feel stupid … down deep they are worried that their skills will be obsolete.”

“Why give up the advantage of improved operations due to the temporary inconvenience of upgrading your digital system? The answer: human nature.”

Years ago, Harvard Business Review reported on a classic study called “How to deal with Resistance to Change.” The articles states: “One of the most baffling and recalcitrant of the problems which business executives face is employee resistance to change … . They are not the spectacular once-in-a-lifetime technological revolutions that involve mass layoffs or the obsolescence of traditional skills, but they are vital to business progress.”

The article goes on to describe research that found that resistance to change was not technological but social. Employees who are ordered to accept changes without question had the greatest resistance. But those who participated closely with management in the adoption phase showed little resistance and soon exceeded their job performance while using the new methods.

The article states that “… resistance to method changes could be overcome by getting the people involved in the change to participate in making it.” (Their italics.)

Kanter believes that preparation and knowledge are key. “Leaders should create certainty of process, with clear, simple steps and timetables.”

So should your software suppliers. You need your digital partners to explain why new systems are beneficial and worth the time and effort to implement. And they should walk you carefully through the process so that your operations are improved as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Digital Solutions That Strengthen Your Finances

ASF Payment Solutions has been working closely with health clubs since 1973. For years they’ve provided club management software that’s customizable, scalable, and intuitive.

More to the point, they understand how digital disruptions can create anxiety and confusion. ASF’s customer service representatives, have learned how to help clubs optimize their operations with an installation process that will have you and your staff excited for change instead of dreading it.

ASF’s My Club Business software suite provides seamless digital interactions designed to optimize gym management and customer engagement. Their newest upgrades to their Point of Sale and Inventory Management applications provide next-level digital tools for controlling costs and managing revenue streams. It includes:

  • Touchscreen capability: Simply touch the items you want on your iPhone, Android, iPad, or tablet, and they will automatically add or subtract to or from your cart.
  • Simplified inventory tracking: Seamlessly update and organize merchandise and add notes as you go.
  • Precise reporting: The software will give you a granular perspective on your financial information in real time, everything from local tax responsibilities to exact numbers on inventory and purchases.
  • Easy checkout: Select the products you want then easily ring up items at checkout on any device with the click of a button.
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All applications in the suite can be accessed on multiple devices, which empowers your employees to have a stronger grasp on club products and availability. This allows sales staff more time to sell club merchandise, personal training sessions, group packages and other services instead of doing busy work tabulating inventory and producing reports.

When it comes to implementing upgrades, your ASF representative—a real, live human being—will help guide you through the process. You’ll have access to video tutorials and other tools to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your digital tools. You and your employees won’t fear change, but will look forward to it.

To learn how ASF can help you upgrade your digital operations and ask for a demo, visit their website or call 800-227-3859.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org