As Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.” This is one of my favorite notions to live by, and one of the many brilliant thoughts included in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” If you haven’t read the book, check it out.
If Covey suggests starting with the end in mind, it seems having a plan and working backwards is a notable way to travel. My observations when talking with business operators is that sometimes the focus can be on tackling what is in front of them, versus staying focused on the larger plan.
It can be distracting, bright and shiny to go for what’s at hand, but this does not necessarily yield long-term return. This thought process is a good one to apply when considering technology integration into health club operation plans, especially the social aspect of technology advancements.
The most effective social engagement plans that I have seen are those that are heavily linked to operating plans and really fold into what is already happening. It is critical to evaluate the user experience and ensure you are elevating the experiences, not replacing human touch.
My new favorite analogy to illustrate what I am talking to is that of baking a cake, and hang with me, because this is sweet! The fluffy cake is spongey, sturdy and firm, a lot like an operating plan that includes a vision, mission and values.
The mission points to what you stand for, what you want to do to impact your desired metrics, etc. Your vision is how you see that happening, where you are going and who you are taking with you. Your values are the compass, meaning what type of ideas and intentions will lead you to where you are going and what you want to be known for.
The next step to cake making is the icing! The icing is what holds the cake together and makes it really beautiful to the beholder. Icing is the glue, what makes the spongey, sturdy cake stick together.
If you look at it from this perspective, technology is the icing, and when you apply it in this way it is oh so very sweet to your members. When your plan has thoughtful additions made by adding social engagement where it makes sense and enhances your existing plan, the whole experiences becomes better.
If your culture and values reflect member touches and engagement on a weekly basis, layering Twitter or Instagram content interaction is a no brainer. This would be a perfect example of adding a little icing to your member satisfaction category of your operating plan.
Once you post something, go back and interact with each member on the social platform who commented, tweeted or liked your post. Instead of a phone call, mix it up! If you have a new member policy where you call the new member in the first 30 days of membership, Tweet at them or comment on a Facebook post instead. It’s still a touch, just in a different way.
As Covey suggests, begin with the end in mind. Align your plan with your end goal and create a sustainable daily practice that you and your staff can deliver on. Social integration does not have to be daunting, but if your operating plan is replaced with flying darts at moving social targets, it’s hard to cover much ground. Stay focused on your plan, and ice the cake with social touches.