The fitness industry — perhaps more than any other — lacks experts who understand what tech solutions and tactics can empower clubs to work more efficiently and deliver better member experiences. Without seasoned experts, clubs and gyms often end up turning to and relying on guidance from “experts” who work for the very companies that are trying to sell them their own products, services, and solutions.
When the bottom line is on the line, these “experts” will say just about anything to get you to buy their solution, particularly when there is so much private equity flowing into the fitness tech space. As we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, it’s important to ensure your tech partners are putting your business success — not their ROI — at the top of their list of priorities. But how do you know which tech partners are prioritizing your business success and not just looking out for their own bottom line? There are two key things to look for when choosing a fitness tech partner: trust and freedom.
Successful Partnerships Start with Trust
Choosing a technology partner is about more than picking the right solution — it’s about working with a company that offers a professional service you need and that will help you deploy your tech strategy successfully. You want a tech partner helmed by a well-funded visionary, but you also need a company you can trust.
The best businesses understand that their solution isn’t right for everyone. In fact, a good way to determine the trustworthiness of a potential technology partner is whether they recommend using a software solution or tool that isn’t even theirs. The most trustworthy tech partners will prioritize helping you find the right solution for your business over forcing you into their brand’s box when it’s not a perfect fit.
You’ll be trusting your partners with your data, leaning on their advice about your business decisions, and relying on them for the technology and tools you need — now and in the future. You have to ask: Will they lead you down the right path? Are they invested in your success? Do they really get your business and the fitness industry?
When you realize you can trust a company to put your needs first and their revenue second, you’re more likely to choose them or to tell your colleagues about the company’s integrity and trustworthiness — it’s a win-win for everyone.
Unlock the Freedom to Choose
One of the keys to success in the fitness industry is having the freedom to choose the technology and features that will serve your business today, tomorrow, and in the future. Opt for a fitness tech partner is constantly innovating, developing new technologies, and giving you the opportunity to test out those technologies before they hit the market. Close partnerships like these help you stay ahead of the curve and adjust your own business goals and strategies based on new and upcoming tech.
We’re living in the API economy, and having the choice to build a tech stack whose solutions seamlessly communicate with one another is vital. Your CRM and club management system must play nice with your other systems, and all the better if you can find a best-in-breed, one-stop shop to deliver everything you need. But many tech vendors will try to lock you into a closed ecosystem, and the more your business gets locked into a closed ecosystem, the harder it is to get out and the more your decisions cease to be your own.
Some technology companies use this strategy to create “stickiness” and force you to stay in their model — and not always with noble motives. In many cases, companies will wine and dine you or try to impress you with support to fix problems created by their tech, all to divert your attention away from them getting closer to your most protected and valuable asset: your members.
A trustworthy tech partner will listen to your business’s challenges and work on building customized, data-driven software solutions that can help you meet those challenges head on, no strings attached. As your business grows and scales, your tech partner has to be prepared and able to grow with you.
Take the Reins Now — Before Someone Else Does
The COVID-19 pandemic thrust incredible change on our industry, much as it did with all aspects of life, and caused everyone to think differently. We’re exploring opportunities we might not have otherwise discovered or uncovered thanks to the global crisis.
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” ― Sun-Tzu
It’s true now more than ever that necessity is the mother of invention. Over the past year, companies have been developing technologies that will help the fitness industry move above and beyond expectation. Now is not the time to go down the cul-de-sac of a closed ecosystem or to partner with a company that doesn’t have your success as their No. 1 priority.
Finding partners that you can trust ultimately gives you more freedom to choose how to optimize your future. Take the reins now to avoid becoming what Borders was to Amazon: a target.