Tag Archives: Operations

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): What is it and do you need a system in place?

27 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Analytics, Booking System, Marketing, Memberships, Operations, Technology

In 2018, customer relationship management (CRM) software became the leading and fastest growing software market, with a growth rate of 16%, according to research by Gartner. Worldwide, CRM software revenue reached $39.5 billion at the end of 2017, surpassing that of database management systems (DBMS). With such rapid growth, people have been given little time to get their heads around what CRM actually is. Many people use the word, sounding impressive in emails and board meetings, but frequently they confuse its meaning with more general management software. So, what exactly is CRM and should your wellbeing business use one of these highly complex systems?

What is it?

Simply put, CRM is a way to manage and improve your interactions with customers and potential customers. Sometimes it refers to a company’s theoretical strategy or process. In its most recent format, it is a software product, usually stored in the cloud, that records, reports and analyses every interaction between company and customer. It sounds very Big Brother, but it is intended to serve both the service provider and the consumer.

The Benefits of CRM

  1. Personalised marketing: CRM allows for a more personalised approach to marketing. Think of targeted ads that follow you around the internet; CRM refines this personalisation further. Customers or potential customers are only advertised to about products or events that are highly relevant to their interests.
  2. Automated sales: Salespeople cannot afford to waste time rooting through spreadsheets and notepads to remember their relationship with a customer. CRM puts this information directly onto their dashboard allowing for a much smoother and more effective pitch.
  3. Higher retention: It is proven that retention rates and member usage are directly correlated. For each additional visit by a member in any given month, the risk of that member cancelling in the subsequent month is reduced by 33%, according to research by IHRSA. With a fitness CRM system, you can monitor and reach out to inactive members who are most vulnerable to cancellation.
  4. Customers feel valued: A mother might call with a query about her daughter’s tennis group. With an efficient sports CRM system, you can quickly search her name and load every previous interaction. With the facts laid before you in your dashboard, you will be able to provide a more personalised customer support service. Member care is a journey; it evolves as your members change.
  5. Happy Birthday: Automatic birthday wishes can be sent to every client with the gift of a special offer. For many activity providers, kids’ birthday parties are a big chunk of their income. An effective CRM system could decipher appropriate clients and send a promotional email in advance of the child’s birthday.

Budget for change

CRM systems for sports typically contain vast amounts of sensitive personal data, such as customer contact information, date of birth etc. This information increases in value over time, as a customer’s profile builds up. In its very nature, CRM is prone to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) non-compliance. CRM budgets are expected to increase as companies follow GDPR procedures.

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Increase Revenue From Retail At Your Fitness Studio

18 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Marketing, Operations

Having a finely displayed range of retail items can add character to your reception, giving it a boutique feel. Your customers should enter your venue and be comforted that you can offer them all they need to attend a class. Retail is not always a success, to begin with. You will need to shop around to find items that match the professionalism and ethos of your brand. If items don’t sell, cut your losses and hold flash sales (an excellent form of event marketing) or sell these items at a highly reduced cost to your staff members. When done right, retail has the potential to massively increase revenue at your fitness studio.

Give customers the Prime service

Amazon Prime has got it sussed when it comes to customer ease. The purchase process is almost completely frictionless, with people now asking Alexa to order the batteries. Whilst it is not yet necessary for you to be integrated with Alexa, you can take Amazonian steps to make it easier for your customers to purchase things. Perhaps they can pre-order a shake through your app, so it is ready and waiting for them when they finish their workout. The whole point of your retail station is that it is more convenient for your customers to purchase from you than to head to a nearby shop or cafe.

Food and Drinks

Obviously selling bottled water is a must for all fitness facilities. Consider switching to an eco-friendly version, such as Aquapax or Voss. When selling a higher end product, you can increase the markup, and people are happier to pay a little more if it is helping the planet. Plus, it shows that your brand cares about the impact it creates. In addition to healthy drinks, why not host a post-workout social on Thursday evenings, even if only once a month around pay-day, and encourage members to mingle over beer and wine.

Collaborate with alternative clothing brands

A lot of studios choose the mainstream brands: Nike, Adidas, Sweaty Betty, Lululemon. With high street shops on every second corner, is there any point in joining them? Your customers know them well and many will walk right by your clothing rail, assuming you are selling the products for a higher price than they could get in a store. You should spend time researching more obscure labels, in any case; these companies will be more excited about the collaboration. Promoting an indie label will prove to your customers that you are “in the know” for all things fitness and have a good eye for up and coming trends.

Forgotten Items

When coming from work or squeezing classes in between daily tasks, it is easy and a nightmare to forget workout gear. Water bottles, leggings, sports bras, are neglected time and again by busy fitness goers only to be sorely missed during an exercise class. In addition to fitness apparel, consider stocking some items that facilitate an easy exit. There is nothing worse than forgetting a spare pair of socks and have to hit the town in a damp pair or worse- sockless. Price the pieces so they are a little more expensive than a high street chain but not so expensive that impulse purchases are out of the question.

Gift Vouchers

Gift vouchers are your finest sales accomplishments. When customers love your brand, they want nothing more than to encourage friends to join them for a fitness class. Sometimes mates are resistant; a gift voucher is the perfect ploy to get them through the door and get them hooked.

Branded items

What better advertising for your brand than to have your customers wear your logo? It’s a bold form of marketing; your customers literally pay to advertise on your behalf. Whether it’s a sports bag, hoodie or reusable water bottle, selling branded items earns you both cash and marketing rewards. The customisation market is rife with companies of questionable quality. Shop around and don’t sell out for a cheap deal unless you want your brand to look cheap. Ordering branded items is a long process if you do it right. Reserve in small batches to determine product quality and then bulk-buy once satisfied.

Luxury Treatments

If you are an upmarket studio consider hiring a hairdresser on Friday and Saturday evenings or a part-time masseuse one or two days a week. If you do not have the space or the clientele for such services, consider partnering with local hair salons, physios, or massage parlours to cross promote your services and provide discounts.

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Website Tips for Sports Businesses

13 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System

It is essential that you invest in the front end of your business. We provide booking software for sports providers big and small, so we have seen and worked with our fair share of websites. Sometimes, it is not the flashiest, most expensive site that stands out (or indeed that takes in the most bookings). Having said that, nobody ever built a website out of peanuts. Hiring a website developer is a significant investment, costing upwards of three grand. Of course, this would give you a bespoke, glossy finish and a highly functional site. Many people choose to go with a DIY site builder, such as WordPress. Using such templates result in a more generic, less professional looking website, which often struggles to integrate with other software. Whatever route you choose, you must have a clear idea of the look and feel you want from your site.

Prioritise the visitor

You may want to get lots of useful marketing information from your customer via a booking form: How did you find us? Would you recommend us to a friend? Resist that urge. These questions are irritating and may lead to a customer dropping out before purchasing. Perhaps you want to hammer home your mission statement and flaunt your qualifications and triumphs. Yes, your business must look successful, but avoid slipping into the realms of boasting. Your website is not about you; it is about what you provide. So be generous; give them a taste of what you offer. Your site should be a virtual representation of your business; show what you provide, rather than telling them. Which leads us to the next point…

Photos are essential, but videos stand out

Most activity providers have lots of pictures of children having fun at their camps and courses. Instead of having a “Gallery” page, scatter these photos throughout your website so that every page is brimming with smiling students. Videos of practice or matches give potential customers a glimpse into the experience they will get if they sign up for your club.

Keep things simple

Start with a simple navigation bar, with clear headings, so your visitors immediately know which section to click. Nobody likes clutter: you only have to think about Ryanair’s jumble sale of a website to consider cancelling your holiday plans. Don’t have a master’s degree in the English Language? Don’t worry, because customers favour conversational English over stuffy technical jargon.

Mobile-Desktop View

Mobile is fast becoming the surf medium of choice. It is vital that you consider how your website looks on both a desktop and a mobile. The mobile view is not merely a smaller version but must be explicitly designed with a phone screen in mind. Text should be clear and large enough to read, without having to zoom in. Include a slick, pop-up menu bar for easy navigation. A nice touch is a click-to-call feature, so customers can ring without having to dial the number.

Online bookings

This is the most important element of your website. Yes, we may be biased, but what is the point of your site if not for people to book your facilities and courses. OpenPlay’s bespoke booking system provides a streamlined booking experience. People can book on a desktop or via their mobile, meaning that your booking window is 24/7 and accessible from anywhere in the world.

Up to date information

So this is obvious, but make sure that everything a customer needs to know is there. If the last event advertised is for a summer course in 2005, they will assume you’ve closed up shop and will look elsewhere. Include a news section, so visitors can see that you have activities and events happening all the time. Age groups or available course are the first things that your customers will look for, so make this information easy to find. We would recommend having these available on your homepage as well as on their specific TAB so that visitors can click directly to a booking.

Connect your social media

People engage 25% more with brands that are on Instagram. Make sure to connect your social accounts with your website. Whatever platform you engage with most should be featured on your site; whether that is a rolling Twitter feed or an Instagram tile display.

Good grammar

Bad grammer makes you’re websight look amature. Grammarly is a desktop plug-in that will check your text for any mistakes. It is more thorough than the simple spell check of Word or Pages. It will help you with punctuation, turns of phrase, and even suggest alternative words for when it thinks you have not quite nailed your word choice.

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Reducing Paper at Sports Centres

11 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Operations, Technology

Whether it’s the rising threat of global warming, the stress of sorting through mounting documents, or simply a fear of papercuts; in the age of digitisation, paper and printing products are edging towards extinction. People are discovering that printing is an unnecessary expense, with the average small business spending £14K per year, according to research by software developers Reckon. Paper and ink are just the tip of a melting iceberg; hidden beneath the surface are the costs of keeping traditional filing systems, employee time, and machine maintenance.

Switch from paper bookings to online bookings

Paper is fiddly to manage and far from secure. Storing your data through a booking system like OpenPlay means everything is in one place and nothing gets lost. More importantly, no private information can be misappropriated (GDPR alert!). Our venue management software caters to block bookings, recurring payments, voucher codes and lots more. There is no longer a need to scribble or score out mistakes. Quickly alter, cancel, or refund a reservation and issue automatic confirmations to the customer. Unlike manual paper methods, our CRM (customer relationship management) system records your client interactions, so all information is up-to-date, relevant, and personalised. Ditch the Filofax and paper spreadsheets; a quick glance at your OpenPlay dashboard tells you your facility’s usage rates, financial information, and demographic breakdown.

Digital Registers

Digital registers not only reduce your printing needs, but they are kept up-to-date. Any last minute changes to registers are instantly registered in the system, meaning that instructors have an accurate register right up to the moment they begin their class. Bookings are coordinated with registers, so you can sign attendees can sign and out via the OpenPlay app, or instructors can sign them in via the coach app. You can also add notes, such as illnesses or allergies, to a client’s name, so your coaches and staff will be automatically updated.

Read more: Eliminate single-use plastic at your gym

Implement Recycling Bins

Sometimes paper needs to be used. The polar bears will forgive you for the odd printout, but only if you print back to back and only if you recycle. Create a recycling hub behind reception and print out posters to remind employees and guests to recycle… or don’t actually. Scratch that last point.

Other ways you can help the environment…

  • If you sell plastic bottles of water, why not swap to reusable bottles and provide water fountains.
  • Switch from paper towels to hand towels or energy efficient hand dryers.
  • Perhaps instead of music for classes, you can have your coaches sing or beatbox in between instructions.
  • Ban wrapping paper from the company’s Secret Santa; it is never a surprise anyway.
  • Switch off air-conditioning/ heating. Tell clients this aids muscle recovery and hope they don’t know any better.
  • A popular environmental fitness trend straight from LA is to drain your swimming pool of water and hold mock swim classes instead. Students have found that imagining the resistance of the water means that they are not only working their muscles but also exercising their creative minds.

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Sports coaches- Is admin keeping you off the pitch?

9 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Operations, Technology

Most sports coaches enter the profession because they have a passion for the game they play. It is the smell of the grass, the feel of a ball, a glove, a racquet in their hands and the joy of passing on their enthusiasm to fresh faces. Despite this idealistic vision, many find themselves stuck inside beneath a mountain of forms, blurry-eyed from excel spreadsheets, ears ringing from relentless calls. Admin comes with the territory, but not to the extent that the majority of coaches find themselves. You can make just one simple change that eliminates up to 95% of your admin, improves the service you provide, and gets you back onto the pitch.

Switch to an online booking system

Face-to-face and telephone bookings are drawn out, expensive and much less efficient than online reservations. Someone needs to be “on call” or in the office to process bookings. Bookings not only need to be online, but they need to suit both desktop and mobile. At OpenPlay, we provide bespoke booking systems that not only increase your sales and revenue but also a detailed back-end management system featuring a host of time-saving features.

Keep track of payments

The OpenPlay system flags any unpaid invoices, so you can quickly send payment reminders. Customer fees will be processed through payment gateways such as Stripe. We integrate with world-renowned services, which are safe and secure. With less cash on site, the risk of accidental or intentional loss of funds is virtually eradicated. Online payments also sync immediately with your OpenPlay venue management system, so you no longer have to log transactions manually.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

OpenPlay’s CRM system keeps track of your interactions with clients. Each time you converse with a client, you can be confident that your information on them is up-to-date, relevant and tailored specifically to the individual. CRM adds a personal touch that clients love. It makes such a difference when you can recall your last phone call with them and immediately reference their previous queries. It lets customers know that you value them.

The OpenPlay Pocket mobile app

Even with all the technology in the world, you cannot escape admin entirely. With the OpenPlay Pocket mobile app, you can at least take this small bit of work out onto the pitch. Take payments directly through your OpenPlay Pocket mobile app. Manage your coaches and employees via the app and only grant them access to their classes. Each coach receives their own registers, so they can tick off attendees and instantly see any essential health conditions. An important safety feature OpenPlay has devised and implemented is the unique pickup code for children. When parents cannot collect their child, they digitally sign the coach’s app, granting access to another adult.

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Managing Peak Times At Sports Centres

5 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Memberships, Operations

Members pay premium prices for peak-times, yet overcrowding often hampers their experience. For many people, psyching themselves up for the gym is a hurdle in itself. Once they have made it through the doors, the last thing they need is further blockades between them and their workout. All too much is the queue for a treadmill, the claustrophobia of a rammed group exercise class and a bruised back from doing sit-ups on a hard floor because there are no free mats. Fortunately, there are a few ways to reduce overcrowding and keep your gym running smoothly and efficiently at these busy times.

Eliminate reception bookings

There is nothing worse than arriving at the gym only to find that the reception is blocked up with customers and all of the staff are either on the phone or clicking away at computers. Priority needs to be given to those seeking access, needing towels or who have a general query. Move your class bookings online with a bespoke system like OpenPlay and increase reception efficiency.

Off-peak memberships

Anyone working 9-5 cannot avail of the luxury of off-peak workouts. However, for freelancers, stay-at-home parents, retirees, students, and children, a reduced price membership could be tempting. An off-peak membership restricts the user’s access to less popular hours, such as mid-morning and late afternoon. Make sure to introduce some off-peak classes, so these members can also benefit from the timetable. With any luck, some of your current members will opt for a quieter workout and new members will be able to join.

Digital sign-ups and registers

It is essential, first of all, that you have some form of a sign-up system for your group classes. People will lose faith in your venue if it is a constant lottery where they must turn up 30 minutes before the class to have any hope of making the cut. Encourage people to sign up online, so at least this booking race is digital. Now that you’ve asked people to sign up, you need to follow through on your system and implement registers. Most clubs print off class lists, which takes up the time of receptionists, adds to printing costs, and creates a general faff for everyone involved. The OpenPlay Pocket mobile app gives each instructor access to their classes so that they can check off students in the studio. No middleman is needed; registers automatically sync with bookings and cancellations, so they are up-to-date and digitally stored.

Enforce Time Limits

Many clubs ask their members to limit time spent on each machine (usually 45-60 minutes max per person), in an attempt to democratise the gym. Time limits are useful to a degree but even waiting 45 minutes for an exercise bike is a big ask. Ensure that PTs and instructors are on the gym floor offering workout advise to customers. They can show people the benefits of less popular equipment and encourage runners and elliptical trainers to increase sprint times, so they train in shorter, more intense bursts.

Efficient Access Control

The majority of fitness centres already use a version of access control; typically this is by way of a membership card. At OpenPlay, we integrate your booking statistics with your access control system. Alternatively, we have developed an access control app that fits seamlessly with your OpenPlay account. Instead of a card which can be forgotten or lost, a barcode system works straight from mobile and operates even in offline mode. This barcode system is particularly efficient for guests or external users who have  a squash court booking. Their unique barcode can be programmed to allow them access through reception, the changing rooms and the squash court they have booked.

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GDPR: A complete guide for sports providers

26 April 2018 openplay Leave a comment Marketing, Operations

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) deadline is fast approaching. May 25th, 2018- Doomsday. It is the most significant overhaul of data protection rules in 20 years. The legislation comprises 99 articles, establishing the digital rights of individuals and the responsibilities of data “controllers” and “processors”. Any company that processes or controls EU customer data needs to adjust their business model accordingly. Before you basque in Brexit liberties, note that the UK government are implementing the Data Protection Bill which largely mirrors GDPR.

After the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica and its corrupt use of 87 million Facebook users’ data, GDPR comes into force at a befitting time. The law itself was decided in April 2016, giving companies a two-year transition period, but many are still unprepared for the changes. It is a lot to get your head around, but once in place will simplify the use of data and grant individuals access to their personal information.

The new regulation specifies that a person’s data is only to be used if they give direct consent. GDPR affects every company that handles the data of any EU citizen, regardless of where the company itself is based. Anyone in breach of the new laws will face a fine of €20 million or 4% of global revenues (whichever sum is larger).

A sports centre or activity provider “controls” customer data. Personal data refers to any information that can be used to identify someone. According to the EU commissioner, this is “anything from a name, a home address, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or a computer’s IP address.

Sports providers gather most of this data during the booking process: making OpenPlay a “processor” of data. We, at OpenPlay, have no reason to contact your customers. We must provide tools to help you (the “controllers”) comply, but ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure your system is in place. If you are a large sports centre, you might consider hiring a Data Privacy Officer.

We’ve compiled a list of changes you will need to implement…

Contacting Customers

OpenPlay will be adding a tick-the-box question that requires customers to explicitly grant or deny permission for your company to contact them. Keep a record of these permission forms. You will no longer be able to market to customers without receiving prior consent. You can still send emails or texts that directly relate to the customer’s booking.
Accepted: A confirmation or cancellation email. Necessary information: “Sorry the gym has run out of towels. Please bring your own.”
Not accepted: Mass emails that reveal the email addresses and names of other recipients. Promotional content: “The gym has a lovely range of luxury towels available for purchase,” “Upcoming Easter Course- Selling out fast!”

Lawful Basis for controlling data

For each piece of evidence you store, you must be able to justify its purpose (or gain explicit consent). For example, medical records are of vital interest to sports providers; they are part of the safeguarding process. Superfluous, unconsented data may be flagged in audits.

Secure Data

You must ensure that you are storing customers’ data safely. Extra security systems should be put in place so that outsiders cannot access sensitive information. Email is the biggest risk of third party interference, be it a malicious or accidental breach.

Sharing Data

This refers to both your customers and your employees. You must obtain written permission from your staff to use their full name and/or contact details on your website, social media posts, cover list, and any in-house posters.

Accessible Spreadsheet

If a customer demands to see the data you have on them and the third parties with whom you share it, you must be able to send them a detailed breakdown of the information.

Delete Expired Data

If someone has not booked with you in three years, you must erase all of their data. However, you should also consider deleting any data that is deemed irrelevant even if it is within this three-year window.

Children’s Data

The UK has been extra vigilant in their requirements of companies handling the personal data of children. Parental consent must be acquired for those under the age of 13. When obtaining children’s data, you must ensure that each bit of information forms a crucial part of your safeguarding system.

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Should Class No-Shows be Punished?

16 April 2018 openplay Leave a comment Analytics, Operations

No-shows (people skiving fitness classes) are a real problem for gyms and sports clubs. A full class plus waitlist is often an optimistic mirage that results in a class half empty. Members who tried and failed to make the cut walk past a deserted studio and are outraged that they were turned away. Complaints flood reception- something must be done! Punishments are in place in many clubs. They may be monetary or ban no-shows from future classes. Are they effective? And more importantly is it right to punish grown adults for truancy?

The Pros…

  • A fuller class.
  • Member engagement.
  • Classes appear popular and more enticing.
  • Some members enjoy the motivational aspect of avoiding punishment.

The Cons…

  • The cons (there are a lot) are the process itself. It is long-winded and requires a team effort for even semi-efficient execution.

The Sign-up Race

Whether booking opens 24 hours or seven days in advance, some classes will fill up instantly, so members need to have their finger on the button. This method makes signing up to a beginner’s pilates class feel like you’re booking tickets to Glastonbury. Anyone who doesn’t set their alarm and sit by their computer may miss out on a slot.

The Cancellation Window

Most clubs allow students to cancel in advance of their class. This can be up to four hours before or, in more extreme cases, a full day ahead. Four hours, although easier on the deserter, may not be enough time for waitlisters to accept a spot and for newbies to sign up.

The Punishment itself

Some chains charge £4 for a late cancellation, which is enough to make someone hesitate before backing out. Some studios take this a notch further, with penalties hovering between the 10 to 15 pound mark, plus (if applicable) the price of the class itself. These are extortionate prices and seem too extreme for member clubs. Another option many gyms take, is the “No Show, No Go”. If students miss a series of classes they will be banned from booking for a period of time. These can be effective in some cases but has little to no effect on those who skip classes sporadically.

The Register Malarkey

Now that you have vowed to punish all who sin, you must actually take note of no-shows. The majority of gym chains print out a register, which is a hassle for both reception staff and instructors. In order to use the most up-to-date list, receptionists must print off registers no more than 30 minutes before class starts. Yet, this still doesn’t account for last minute drop-outs and it is a nightmare for instructors teaching back-to-back lessons who will be running up and down to reception like a yo-yo.

The Solution

Going digital eliminates all printing, and keeps everything current and instant. An ipad in the studio would allow even late members to quickly sign in without disturbing the class. An alternative would be to keep control within the instructor’s hands. Registers are available within their app, from which they call out names and sign people in.

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