Gym automation has the power to transform the way you work. It can help you grow your gym business, increase profitability, and offers many more benefits. Find out how you can take advantage of automation to manage and scale your business.
Staying on track of and completing the daily tasks needed to keep your business running can be overwhelming. Tracking memberships and payments. Managing class schedules. Staying in touch with members. And more! There’s a lot to keep track of.
Good news! Technology is there to help. The right technology can make gym management more automated than ever. Streamlining processes. Reducing costs. Improving efficiency. And freeing you and your team up to focus on more enjoyable tasks!
In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of gym automation. And help you identify ways to fuel growth by automating gym management.
We’ve also created a quick quiz that makes it really easy to see how you could make improvements. Take it now:
Let’s get stuck in!
Save time, boost productivity, and increase revenue with Xplor Gym. The gym management software can help you automate daily tasks across your business.
Benefits of gym automation
The UK fitness industry is competitive. In 2023, there were 4,460 private gyms and fitness clubs. And that’s an increase of just 0.1% compared to 2022. To grow, you need to attract and keep more members than ever before.
Investing in digital is vital if you want to keep up and grow profitably. Yet, fitness operators can benefit by increasing digital maturity and automation.
Digital maturity measures how well you can create value using digital technologies. Recent research shows the average digital maturity score for fitness operators is 47%. And that puts the industry at ‘Digital Experimenter’ level.
So, it’s an exciting time for the fitness industry. With more gym owners and operators embracing tech that will drive transformation. And power better working experiences. As well as delighting and motivating gymgoers.
Advantages of strategically investing in digital technologies to automate gym management include:
Automation helps streamline processes. And that cuts down the time and effort needed to manage day-to-day operations.
Enhanced member experiences
Gym automation can provide members with self-service options and personalised experiences. So, boosting gym member loyalty and satisfaction.
When you automate tasks and processes you’ll cut admin costs. And free up resources to invest in revenue-generating activities.
Better data management
Data is vital to knowing how your business is performing and finding ways to improve. Plus, it plays an important role in member experiences.
Just 36% of fitness operators collect data consistently without duplication. And only 32% actively maintain an up-to-date customer database. A gym automation system can improve accuracy and make it easier to track performance.
Gym marketing automation can help you better connect with members. Automation allows for personalised messaging. It lets you schedule emails and SMS messages. And can be used to create timely, targeted messaging journeys.
Those are just some of the key benefits of automating gym management.
Amplify your team’s success
Concerned that technology and gym automation will replace people altogether? Don’t be! It’s a common concern for gym owners and operators. However, tech is there to amplify the success of your gym staff. And improve their experience as an employee.
So, ultimately you can boost job satisfaction and provide opportunities for career progression.
Gym automation makes sure that tedious, but critical tasks, get done. And that means there’s no need for anyone to remember and invest time in completing them.
Automating time-consuming, mundane tasks will free you and your team up. So, you can devote more time to interacting with members. And that will help you to increase member engagement and build stronger relationships.
You’ll also have more time to work on your business rather than in it. And that can be key to finding new ways to grow your business.
How to automate your gym business
Automation has the potential to save you time, money, and energy. It can bolster relationships with current members. And help you attract and sign up new ones too.
Ready to take advantage of automation to help manage your gym business? Start with a digital strategy.
This will help you choose the automations that will make the biggest impact on your business. Your digital strategy should help you achieve your overall business strategy.
“A strategy for digital that is integrated into an operator’s overall business strategy brings immense value. It aligns digital initiatives with business objectives, provides a competitive advantage, enhances customer engagement, drives operational efficiency, fosters agility, and promotes data-driven decision-making.”David Gerrish, ukactive, Digital Futures 2023 Report
Next, make a list of the repetitive tasks that you and your team need to complete regularly. Split the tasks into frequency:
And once you have this list, you can begin looking at which tasks automation can help with or even eliminate.
When you introduce a new automation, test it to make sure it’s working correctly. Plus, go back on a regular basis to review each automation (for example, quarterly). And consider whether it’s time for an update or change.
7 ways to fuel growth with gym automation
How automated is your approach to gym management? Whether you’re looking at automation for the first time, or you want to expand your current approach, we’ve got you covered.
Start by answering 7 simple questions to see how your business measures up. And you’ll identify ways you can benefit from gym automation.
How do new members sign up for a gym membership?
😥In person (or over the phone)
Until recently, this was the only way to join a gym. It can be beneficial for potential new members to visit in person first. Yet, there are drawbacks compared to digital joining.
For new members:
- Joining this way can be time-consuming and inconvenient
- Having to visit (or phone up) during opening hours and complete paperwork can be a barrier to signing up
- Plus, some new members may feel pressured to sign up for longer term commitments. And/or may not take the time to read through cancellation policies and gym contracts
For your business:
- In person (and phone) sign ups can be labour-intensive. And if you don’t have a dedicated sales person or team can lead to long queues during peak times. Frustrating for you, your team and your members!
- Paper-based systems can lead to errors. And so, take more time to manage and maintain accurate member records
- Plus, if you’re using paper, you’ll need to carefully consider data protection when handling and storing member data
😀Digital, online joining
Amazing! A streamlined, user-friendly online sign-up process benefits both your members and your business.
For new members:
- Online joining offers ultimate convenience and flexibility. New members can sign up anywhere and at anytime
- Data can be validated for errors during the sign up process for accuracy
- New members can take the time to consider the best membership option for their needs. And read through cancellation policies and the contract terms they are agreeing to
For your business:
- See details of new members in your gym CRM in real-time as they sign up
- Data management becomes easier and more secure. Plus, accuracy is improved with fewer time-consuming errors and detailed reporting
- Admin costs are reduced and you’ll have more time to focus on meaningful member interactions
- New members can still join in person if they prefer, using your digital joining process
How do you welcome new members?
If you simply send a welcome message to new joiners that’s a great start. Yet, there are drawbacks to this minimal approach to onboarding:
For your new members:
- There’s always a chance this first email gets caught up in a spam folder. And that leaves the new member without valuable information to help them use their membership
- Many new members join online without visiting first. And without an induction or larger onboarding process, they’re more likely to never visit and use their membership
- For nervous and/or first time members, being left to it can make it harder to get what they’d hoped to achieve out of their membership
For your business:
- With this approach, you get one chance to get it right. And if new members aren’t motivated to show up and build a habit of visiting, you’re at risk of attrition
- There’s little opportunity to build a relationship and connection with new members
🤔Welcome email & session (aka induction)
If you’re sending a welcome email and also offering a welcome session/gym induction, you’re on track to success.
A welcome session is a fantastic opportunity to set new members up for success. It’s a chance to set goals, provide a training programme, build confidence with equipment, and more.
On average, members who have an induction keep visiting 4 months longer than those who don’t.Winning The War On Attrition report
While this approach is a fantastic start, there are still some drawbacks:
- Convincing members to take up the offer of a welcome session or induction can be tough. So, you’ll likely have some new members who never attend a session
- This onboarding approach ends after the welcome session. And some members need more motivation than this to cheer them on to longer term success
“It’s unlikely that everyone will book a welcome appointment, and also that those who do book will all attend. So, you need a fallback plan, where all no-shows get a call and/or email/SMS to try to rebook.
And those members who turn down the appointment as they join should be re-offered the chance to book through the digital journey. And with the member benefits of a welcome session reiterated to them in the message.”Guy Griffiths, GGFit
😀Multi-touch, multi-channel onboarding journey
Nice one! Using the gym marketing automation and messaging features in your gym management software to create personalised new gym member onboarding journeys that last 60-90 days will help you build loyal members.
Powerful, automated onboarding journeys:
- Use segmentation and triggers based on member milestones achieved to create personalised journeys. So, members get the right message at the right time
- Help members set realistic, personalised goals (even if they don’t make it to an induction session)
- Offer details of follow up assessments and programmes to keep members motivated
- Welcome members to an inclusive, friendly environment that’s not intimidating
- Encourage gym buddies and training partners
- Reward and celebrate visits and memorable milestones
- Gather regular, honest feedback
- Build loyal members, who visit regularly, and stick with your club for the long term
How do you manage schedules for fitness classes and other activities?
😥Notice boards and banners
Notice boards and banners showing your timetables can be a convenient way to show what’s going on. And may suit both members visiting in-person or those viewing your social media. Yet, this approach brings some drawbacks:
- Making updates can be time-consuming. For example, if you are adding a new class that can mean artwork changes and/or printing
- It can be tough to work this way as you scale, especially if you are opening new sites
- If you have lots of classes running, this approach can soon get messy. So, it becomes tough for members to find the classes they love
- Easy-to-use scheduling and calendar layouts that let you view, add to, and edit classes
- Roll out classes across sites or groups of sites, if you’re a multi-site operator. Saving you time and avoiding repetitive work
- Get live information on member access and attendance. Use this data for decision-making, marketing, and up & cross selling
How do members book classes?
😥In person (or over the phone)
If members need to book classes in person (or by calling your club), there can be challenges to overcome.
Challenges for members:
- Booking this way can be inconvenient and time-consuming. Especially, if they need to book during opening hours and wait in line or on the phone to speak to a staff member
- Some members will avoid classes if they need to book but the process is inconvenient. And that means lower attendance rates
Challenges for your business:
- It’s an inefficient use of staff time with ad-hoc calls and visits taking away attention from other tasks
- Tracking attendance, seeing which classes are most popular, and managing waitlists is hard
Nice! Taking class bookings online via your app or website, benefits both your members and your business.
Benefits for members:
- Members can reserve a spot in their desired class and join an automated waitlist if it’s fully booked
- Offers a fast, flexible way to view schedules and book onto classes. And this can make it easier to build a consistent fitness routine
Benefits for your business:
- There’s less admin work for you and your team, freeing time to focus on other tasks and members
- It’s easier to make sure that classes are fully booked. As well as, controlling booking rules and using automated waitlists
- You’ll get better visibility into attendance, class popularity, and scheduling trends
How do your members get into your club?
😥Manned, with set open hours
Relying on manual access control methods that need a member of staff present could hold you back. Especially if you’re trying to compete with local 24/7 gyms in your area.
Other drawbacks of manned access control include:
- Check in can be frustratingly slow during peak hours with members having to queue up. Plus, this requires a staff member to be present at all times
- Manual admission can lead to errors. Particularly, if you have a lot of members and need to verify member info or payment details
- You have no ability to access real-time data on occupancy. And that makes it tough to manage staffing, review open hours, etc.
- Unless you log visits in a database, you’ll have very little accurate data on member preferences and behaviour. So, it’s harder to make informed business decisions
- There’s less control over unauthorised access. Particularly at busy times and when staff are unavailable
😀Unmanned and possible 24/7 opening
Awesome! Perhaps you have an exterior (or interior door) that can be accessed via dynamic QR codes or with an RFID tag. So, you don’t need a staff member present to sign members in.
- 24 hour gym access is possible with unmanned access without the need for 24/7 staffing. And that means you can choose to offer members 24/7 access. So, you cater to those with irregular schedules and can compete with other 24/7 operators
- Staffing costs can be reduced (especially outside of core hours). And that can help keep membership costs down
- Members are more likely to visit regularly if you can visit when best fits into their schedule. And visiting regularly can increase retention
- There’s less need for members to wait around and queue during peak hours. So, they can get straight on with their workout
- Cater to members looking for a private or independent workout experience. Including those who would prefer to workout in a quieter environment
- Gain comprehensive insights into gym occupancy and member visit patterns
#6: Email marketing & communications
How do you communicate and market your gym?
😥Ad hoc, one off emails
Gym email marketing is an essential way to build and maintain strong relationships with members. Email is also a helpful tool for sending general and operational updates.
Are you using email on an ad hoc basis right now? Perhaps using an email marketing service (EMS) that’s not connected to your gym software. Or even just sending out mass emails using a tool like Outlook or Gmail.
Either way, while it’s positive to communicate with members this way, there are drawbacks:
- Importing data into your EMS. Creating mail merges to send via your email tool (or even BCC’ing a list of email addresses). These manual processes are time consuming. Plus, they put you at risk of errors and even data breaches
- Sending all communications manually makes it easier to miss opportunities to contact members. And that can lead to cancellations and missed opportunities to generate extra revenue
- It can be harder to segment your prospects and members into target groups. Plus, even simple personalisation, like addressing a member by name, becomes tough. And these challenges make it difficult to send emails that are relevant and resonate
- When it comes to communication, consistency is important. That means sending certain emails on a regular basis, so members come to expect them. It also means adopting a consistent look, feel, and wording, so your emails standout. This is tough without the right tool to support you
- Especially if you are using a tool like Outlook or Gmail, tracking and measuring performance of your campaigns is difficult and often impossible. This leaves you with little visibility into member engagement with your messages.
- You need to make sure members are opted in (and can opt out) when you’re sending marketing messages. This can be fiddly, or even impossible, with some approaches to sending messages. Leaving your ability to market your business limited at best. And at worse leaving you at risk of fines etc.
😀Gym marketing automation features in your gym software
- Working directly with the data in your gym CRM saves time. It makes sure you’re always using up-to-date records. And can avoids data breaches too
- Use segmentation tools to create targeted groups. This increases the relevance of your messages. And that can generate 30% more opens and 50% more click throughs compared to mass messages. Plus, marketers even report revenue increases of a much as 760% with segmented email campaigns!
- It’s easier to send personalised email and SMS messages. You can merge in data held within your gym software (for example, first name or class booked). Talking directly to recipients will help your messages resonate for improved performance
- Choose to send one-off campaigns fast. Opt for delivery straight away or schedule messages to send at the optimal time
- Create triggers based on member activities, milestones, and key dates. So, you automatically send the right message at the right time. And tailor the experience each member gets
- Track marketing performance directly in your gym management software for informed decision-making
- Automatically manage and track opt-ins and opt-outs in real-time
#7: Billing & membership payments
How are you managing billing?
Successfully billing and collecting payments from members is essential for most gyms. Yet, some still use manual payment methods like cash and bank transfers. Drawbacks include:
- The need to manually create and send out invoices and receipts. This takes time and leaves you waiting for payments to be made
- When you rely on a member of your team to create an invoice or for a member to make a payment manually, there’s increased risk of human error. Slowing down payment or leading to an incorrect payment
- Payments need to be tracked manually. And statuses updated in your gym management tool. This is time-consuming and makes reporting difficult. Plus, it can also make it easier for non-payers to keep using their membership
🤔Third party billing and collection service
This is a step towards automating billing and membership payments management. However, there are drawbacks:
- Tracking can be tough with delays in info appearing in your gym management software. And even limited info and visibility into payments within your software meaning you need to login to a separate platform
- Inaccuracies are also common. So, reconciliation becomes a time consuming task and forecasting monthly income is difficult
- You’ll also have multiple providers to manage with which takes extra time
😀All-in-one gym management software including billing
Marvellous! Choosing an all-in-one gym management software that includes automated billing will:
- Save you and your team time taking away processing and reconciliation work
- Allow you to work with just one partner, making communication fast and efficient
- Have billing handled directly within your software. So, you get access to-real-time payment info and statuses. No switching systems or inaccuracies
- Rely on trusted tech and an expert team to follow up on missed payments. And answer payments questions from members. So, you improve revenue collection and have more time to focus on rewarding activities
Level up with a gym automation system
So, there you have it 7 questions to inspire you on your gym automation journey. How did you measure up?
Levelling up your gym business with automation requires the right gym automation system. One that transforms the way you manage your business. Boosts revenue. And powers sustainable growth.
Gym management software like Xplor Gym can help. Our all-in-one software helps you put in place the 7 automations featured in this article and more.
Gym automation will amplify the success of you and your team. And that’s on top of benefits like:
- Improved efficiency
- Enhanced member experiences
- Increased revenue
- Better data management
- Superior communications
Looking to fuel growth by automating gym management? Start by reviewing routine manual tasks. Then identify those that’ll have the biggest impact on your business by automating
The 7 ways to automate gym management featured in this article will help you see how automated your business is right now. And make it easier to identify tasks that are ripe for automation.
The right gym management software is essential to achieving automation success. Software like Xplor Gym. Book a demo to see Xplor Gym in action.
Article by Xplor Gym
First published: 22 January 2024
Last updated: 23 February 2024