Chantal: Stacy, welcome along, thank you so much for joining us on the show.
Stacy: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here, Chantal.
Chantal: Now, let’s get started with our main interview, now. So, talk to us about a few methods that we can use to collect insights around our customer needs.
Stacy: Well, before you kind of dive into just collecting the insights, you have to start a little bit with who is your consumer? Who is your customer? Your target? So, customers in any market can be broken down into segments or buckets of similarities, so the big companies pay big money for sophisticated segmentation studies, but for a small business, I’m a fan of making an informed hypothesis.
Stacy: Think about the people who [inaudible 00:00:38], what are their different groups, and think if there are segments like fitness and [inaudible 00:00:42], people that really have adopted a fitness lifestyle. You have do it yourselfers, that person that puts on their ear buds and is in your gym, but really doesn’t make eye contact with anyone. You have other people that need more support and help. Maybe they’re new to they gym area and they need motivation and education. So if you think about the different groups of people that you see in your business, and once you have those groups [inaudible 00:01:05], think about who is my ideal customer? Who am I best set up to serve, who spends the most money with me, who is the competition serving really well today, and who could I serve better?
Stacy: And once you can identify one or two segments that you think, “Gosh, these are really my people, the people that I’m kind of built to serve.” Then you start to go “Okay, how do I dig up their needs?”
Stacy: Does that make sense?
Stacy: So once you kind of have those segments identified, I typically make a list of what I think their needs are, and then I can try to validate or disprove those assumptions. So, I know this is a really novel idea, but find people and talk to them. Find people in your community, in your membership, your family. My family probably doesn’t love Christmas dinner with me because I’m asking them all about their fitness and working out schedules and what’s motivating them those days and what they’re trying. But ask them about how they feel, how do they feel about the fitness industry, how do they feel about exercise, what have they tried, what have they liked? What do they wish they had?
Stacy: With a bit of information you can really create a really robust survey that you can send out and put a little bit more quantifiable data behind. So, I love to talk to people, and that can be great, but people will also only tell you so much, and we live in an age where we’re just overwhelmed with data, and it will tell you not just what people think, but what they actually do. So, tools, and lots of free tools are out there, like Google Analytics on your website will tell you a lot of people are on your site, what they’re actually clicking, what are they interested in.
Stacy: You can see in your social media metrics what content they like to share. I think here at any time a post on apple cider vinegar done three years ago is still our most successful post. [inaudible 00:02:43] apple cider vinegar can cure just about any health ailment, so you kind of find trends there and you see what people are interested in and if that feedback forum’s like, that promoter’s for, or any of those types of things.
Stacy: I always say you gotta pay special attention to your detractors, people that are unhappy with your service. They’re kind of your biggest gifts. They aren’t worried really about sparing your feelings, so it can be hard to receive sometimes, but they will absolutely tell you where you have opportunities to improve. Another thing that we’re doing here at Anytime Fitness, lately we’ve been doing a lot of this, is really customer journey mapping. This is a great thing to do when you have an existing business. It’s kind of taking a step back and laying out the journey that your customer goes on from the minute that they discover your gym or your club to the moment that they come in to sign up or do a trial, what do all the steps in that process start to look like?
Stacy: And if you can really map out what your process looks like, alright, what would this person feel like as they’re looking on the internet for a gym to join or club to join? Are they scared? Are they intimidated? Okay, when they walk in, now I’m selling them PT, oh gosh. What do they need to hear from me? What do they need to feel? Really mapping out the feelings of your prospect or your member along that customer journey can give you really great insights where you can see, oh gosh, I’m poking them with calipers at this phase in their journey when they’re probably scared and intimidated. That might not be the best experience to deliver those folks.
Stacy: So, when you map out a person’s feelings along the process of what you were doing in your gym, where you see the gaps where somebody might be less than delighted at a moment that you can really adapt your processes and your operations to use those insights to drive a much better experience for them. It’s a really fascinating exercise to do not only by yourself but with a team at your club.
Chantal: I love that concept, Stacy. And let me ask you this, how frequently … Once we’ve mapped out that journey, how frequently would you suggest that we revisit it? Because I guess the experience is changing on a frequent basis, so how often should we revisit that?
Stacy: Yeah, we try to do it at least once a year because this industry is just changing so quickly. It’s easy for a year to go by quickly and all of a sudden new devices and new technology are out there and you start to look at those moments and say “Gosh, could I solve some of those problems with some of the technology out there?” For example, body scanners, body composition scanners are a huge trend right now in the industry and where you look at old school personal training practices. This could really take some of the intimidation out of some of the steps, so as you look at that customer journey, you can also look at the technology and the new developments in the industry and see “Gosh, where can I solve customer problems with new things that have arisen in the industry?
Chantal: You just touched on that new technology and embracing that, so let’s dive into that a little bit further, because once we’ve collected all of those insights and we’ve got that data on hand, what are some different ways or what should we consider about using those insights in our business?
Stacy: I think one of the easiest ways to prioritize what you want to focus on is looking at what are the cheapest things I can do that will have the biggest impact? I think that’s a really good formula for prioritizing, ’cause you can go through those mapping exercises, and get surveys, and all of this data back, and then you’re like “Okay, where do I start?” There’s just a lot of things out there, so I love that filter of biggest impact, smallest effort, smallest dollar amount.
Stacy: And as you start to look at those things, all of a sudden it becomes very clear which things end up at the top of that priority list. What can we do simply, quickly, easily? Doesn’t cost us a lot of money, but also will have the biggest impact for us.
Chantal: Can you share any examples with us of something that you have learned or something that you have implemented along those lines?
Stacy: Yeah, I think our sign up process, for example, in a lot of the clubs years ago it was a very long paper, it was almost like filling out a mortgage. You had 13 pages of disclaimers and liability forms and things that you had to sign in order to become a gym member, and one of the simplest things that we created was just a quick iPad signup process that really took that time from a 60 minute signup process for a customer who was like “Gosh, I really need to get in and out, my kids might be sitting in my car” down to less than a five minute process for somebody that came in.
Stacy: So, that had some development associated with it that did take some time, but it was just such a quick impact and one of the biggest pain points for our customers was “Gosh, I don’t have 60 minutes to stand around and wait to sign up for this gym. I want to get in and out.”
Chantal: That is such a great example, thank you for sharing that, and I’m pretty sure a lot of other gym owners and managers out there are probably appreciating that example because they’re probably in the same boat or have been in the same boat through that signup process. So, with consumer needs constantly changing, how do you actually ensure that the business delivers what your customers need?
Stacy: It’s really a cycle of constant innovation. We have constant feedback out there not only with our members and our prospects, but also with our franchisees. So we are constantly surveying and asking people “How are we doing?” So the things that we’re very intent on positioning ourselves around for us right now, obviously convenience is in our name, but we are also trying to build our personal training business and our coaching services. And as we do that, we ask those questions every month of [inaudible 00:08:30] prospects. When you think of Anytime Fitness, do you think of this? And you start to see in that data whether or not you’re making progress to the things you actually want to make progress towards. It’s hard to build new equities and new value in spaces you’re not traditionally known for, and it gives you a really good read on whether or not your efforts are having an impact or not.
Stacy: Same thing with our franchisees, if our franchisees don’t know what we stand for, then we probably have no hope of getting our members there, so they’re kind of our first line of defense and attack, I guess, when you think about implementing new projects and new services or new positioning, so finding those advocates that you really want to stand for and constantly getting feedback and watching the trend over time, see if you’re making progress, is just super important. It’s that constant cycle of test, measure, repeat. You constantly have to be doing it.
Chantal: Stacy, in that example that you just gave, what do you think of when you think of Anytime fitness, do you ask that to … You said your franchisees and your customers. Do you also ask that to prospects?
Stacy: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it’s probably more important what our prospects think in terms of acquisition for us, as well, so we always say the dirty secret of Anytime Fitness is that when you’re a member you know how great it is and you know the sense of community because you’ve felt it and you see the people that run those clubs and you really understand how they’re there to help and support and really care about your results and moving you into a better health stage in your life, but a lot of our prospects, because we don’t have huge marketing dollars, might not know that. And so we’re finding new ways through digital programs, and sponsorships, and partnerships, and things like that to make sure that that story is getting told beyond our four walls.
Stacy: And so absolutely we care an immense amount about what our prospects think for us, because frankly that’s the life blood of the next generation of our members. So, yep, we’re constantly talking … And we talk to our competitors’ members as well, because we want to understand what people like about the competitors and how we are positioned against them in our prospects’ minds. So, absolutely, we’re talking to prospects all the time.
Chantal: Well that’s the perfect segue into my next question, Stacy, because you mention there that you’re finding new digital platforms and ways to communicate that message, and I think that’s a big thing that, how do we actually articulate to the market when our business is listening to our customers and is matching the consumer needs? So are there any examples that you can give us specifically on the ways that communicate that? Be it from a digital standpoint or a more traditional one?
Stacy: Sure, absolutely. Right now, like I said, our culture and our community is probably one of our biggest strengths, and the stories of people sharing their experiences with us on social media. We just had a fantastic story the other day, it was actually one of our managers in our clubs when she took a social media video of herself in a closet because somebody had made a disparaging remark about her weight and working in a gym, and she said “I want you to know that this is a place you can come for help and we’ll never make you feel less than anybody else here, and that’s what Anytime fitness stands for.”
Stacy: And the tears are in her eyes and everybody I know that has watched this five minute video, just, your heart pours out to her and I’m like “That is where the heart of the brand is.” And so leveraging those opportunities to take these authentic, really cool moments that are happening every day in our gym and spreading the word through social media. Frankly, that just went on fire. Everybody shared it, and a lot of news outlets picked it up. But there are a million of those stories. We’ve got over 3,000 clubs, and in doing that, we have nearly 3,000,000 members around the globe and those stories … Social media just gives you such a great opportunity to get those stories out from the individual club and, frankly, global. So, we’re doing a lot more with social media and just really getting those stories out of our club and out.
Chantal: For Anytime Fitness, Stacy, which social media platforms do you use primarily?
Stacy: Yeah, we have used … Well, we use Facebook quite a bit around here just because of the pure reach of it. Instagram is fantastic, but you have to have a slightly different approach on Instagram. It’s such a visual, obviously, format, so we’ve got a lot of folks that like to post selfies in our gyms, too, so it’s really become almost like a self regulated community, but we created an Anytime community on Instagram as well.
Stacy: And then behind the scenes we’re using a lot of tools. We use a tool called MomentFeed to help our franchisees really manage and measure their performance on social media, and we have integrations with businesses like HubSpot that helps us pull in the data from those social media pools, from our website, and really help us create a nice, robust picture of who our customers are, what content they’re clicking on, and when we have a prospect that’s coming to [inaudible 00:13:36]. [inaudible 00:13:36] is like a hot lead because they’ve interacted with us in a lot of our platforms.
Stacy: So, there’s lots of technology behind [inaudible 00:13:45], but Facebook, Instagram are really the two that allow marketing people to really reach out to their consumers and create community.
Chantal: You just mentioned a system in there, I think you called it “MomentFeed,” is that correct?
Stacy: Yeah. Yep.
Chantal: Is that exclusive to Anytime Fitness, or is that a platform that’s available to anyone?
Stacy: That’s a platform that’s available to anyone, and I believe they have global capabilities. I’m pretty sure some of our clubs are using them in the UK as well. So, yeah, they’re a media platform that really allows you to schedule out your posts, trigger them where you … when you want them to go and really get the measurements and understand what’s performing well for you.
Chantal: So it’s kind of like a CoSchedule or a Hootsuite but it’s got the analytics attached to it?
Stacy: Yes. And it works across multiple platforms. So yup, yup.
Chantal: Interesting. Okay. I know that some of you will be interested in checking that out, so I’ll make sure that I grab a link and we’ll include that in the show notes for today.
Chantal: Now, Stacy, we finish off each of our shows with [inaudible 00:14:38] inspiration, and I’m hoping you can share with us three tips for creating an innovative culture in your business?
Stacy: Sure. You know, it’s funny because I think everybody wants an innovative culture, and if you have an entrepreneur like I do as your founder, it’s almost hard to stop the innovation. There’s so much innovation. Entrepreneurs just inherently, by nature, are never satisfied and constantly pushing the boundaries. So that always [inaudible 00:15:05]. But most companies that I’ve been at [inaudible 00:15:08] before this, say they value it but they really struggle to achieve it and some of the [inaudible 00:15:11] for how you really move that forward when it is a struggle, when you’re fighting the day to day whirlwind of your business are, first, reward and create incentives for innovation at your company. Either through compensation, prizes, bonus structures, whatever that is, demonstrate that you actually value innovation and reward your employees for it one way or the other.
Stacy: Second point is to invest in innovation. A lot of companies say they want innovation, but they don’t necessarily put the money towards it or the resources. So finding a leader, maybe even a partner firm, who can help drive that innovative thinking with freedom from the [inaudible 00:15:51] of the day to day business. Put a percent of your profit towards it. When I was marketing officer here, we put 10% of our marketing budget towards trying new things because you don’t know what’s out there until you try it, and I always thought 10% of your budget going towards learning, and even trying and failing, isn’t that big of a risk. So, putting money towards it to actually invest in it makes it happen.
Stacy: And finally, dedicate time to it. A lot of companies, I know google does this, 3M here in the states is known for dedicating 15% of an employee’s time to innovation. I came from a company named Best Buy, they also had a team that spent a few months dedicating time of some of their top staff to innovation. So, Google does something similar. Like I said, 3M does something similar, but really dedicating time to [inaudible 00:16:43]. Innovation doesn’t happen because you want it to, innovation happens because you create it in your organization.
Chantal: And Stacy, I just want to say thank you because first and foremost, you have energized me for my day ahead. You have an incredible energy-
Stacy: Thank you.
Chantal: And it really is such an honor to have you on the show, you have so much responsibility, you have a very big role, and we really are grateful. On behalf of all of the listeners of the show, we’re so grateful for your time and for you coming and sharing your experience with all of us. So, thank you so, so much for joining us on the show.
Stacy: Oh, it was my pleasure. Thank you so much. It was a real pleasure. Thank you.
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