You have a vast background in operating IT, technology and software-driven environments for performance excellence. When it comes to these areas, what’s on your mind right now? AZ: First, with worldwide occurrences of network breaches and loss of personal and payment information at an all-time high, Gold’s Gym is continuously focused on maintaining a highly secure network that proactively patrols and monitors our environment, to ensure we are doing everything in our power to provide a safe and secure system for housing our member’s data. Second, wearables have the ability to be a friend or a foe to the health club industry. I feel that if we embrace wearables and make them part of the core club experience, we can keep our members engaged and help them achieve their desired health outcomes.
Club management software (CMS) is a big part of a club’s operation. What capabilities should clubs look for? AZ: First and foremost, I feel it’s of importance to partner with a provider that can pull from a significant amount of experience servicing the club market. There are so many aspects to running a business in this industry — and our CMS partners play such an important role in helping us achieve success — that choosing one with a proven history and a solid reputation in our space is critical.
Second, I would make sure your new CMS partner has a regular release schedule as it relates to major and minor updates to their software platform. When requested, they should be able to give you a clear and concise look at their current software development roadmap, with a view into at least their next two quarters of planned major and minor updates to their system.
How often should clubs evaluate what software or technology they’re currently using? AZ: If your current CMS provider does a good job of maintaining a viable product roadmap, which includes choosing to involve your feedback into their software development plans, then there aren’t a significant number of reasons why a club would want to consider switching CMS providers. If your provider continually falls down in major areas, like failing to rectify business-impacting software defects, providing inaccurate billing or reconciliation, neglecting their roadmap and not listening to their customers’ requests — or most importantly, does anything that has a negative impact on your valuable member base — then it’s time to start evaluating other CMS options available.
Are there any new platforms or pieces of tech that have caught your eye? AZ: I feel that we should be embracing all forms of software and technology that can help us drive member engagement and bridge the gap that occurs between when a member is in our club, and when they are at home.
With your experience in mind, what advice could you give to health clubs looking to improve their IT and tech performance? AZ: The best piece of advice I can give here is to know your strengths and your weaknesses — and if IT and technology are not directly in your team’s wheelhouse of talents, then bring in the right people to help. Software and technology play such an important factor in helping us run our clubs, grow our businesses and engage our members, that trying to go it on your own can take you backwards. Utilize your CMS partner’s on-staff experts to help you whenever possible, as well as the other mobile app, wearable and technology consulting partners who have proven themselves to be highly valuable to clubs.