Executive Spotlight: Jeff VanDixhorn of Club Automation
For this executive spotlight, Club Solutions sat down with Jeff VanDixhorn, the founder and GM of Club Automation, to talk about his experiences in the fitness industry.
How did you get your start in the club industry?
JV: I started working at CPAC as a “junior staffer” in 1980, helping at the desk, cleaning, etc. My father purchased that club with a group of investors in 1985, and like most family businesses, it was a huge part of our life. In 1995 the club was struggling, so my father asked if I would be interested in running the facility. I’m an entrepreneur at heart and wanted the challenge of owning and growing that business. I love the athletic club industry and the opportunity to impact the health of our members. In the beginning, I basically did every job at the club, from managing the front desk and back office to teaching tennis and running leagues. Little did I know all of this experience would help in understanding the needs for a comprehensive software down the road.
What led you to founding Club Automation?
JV: I founded Club Automation primarily to resolve the software issues for our 13 clubs. In 2007, I was trying to manage our facilities and could not find software that did a good job managing both the back end of the business (billing, profile management) or the front end (program registration, resource management). With multiple locations, we needed better, real-time visibility into clubs. Without a web-based platform that was difficult. Like most new and innovative products, it started to solve a problem for other clubs with similar needs.
Does being both a club owner and co-founder of Club Automation give you a unique industry perspective?
JV: I think it does give us a more comprehensive understanding of what is valuable from a functionality standpoint. But more importantly, we have a lot of empathy for the issues that clubs experience, which provides more motivation to resolve those issues quickly. It impacts not only product development, but also our customer care team.
What does the future hold for Club Automation and its customers now that you’ve merged with Daxko?
JV: The future of Club Automation looks very promising. Given the additional resources and experience of Daxko, we’re able to continue maturing our platform and organization to better service our customers.
What trends in software/technology should club operators be paying attention to?
JV: Two trends that club operators need to be paying attention to are artificial intelligence (AI) and mobile apps. Today’s club members expect award-winning experiences wherever they connect. Clubs are currently trying to scale exceptional experiences relying solely on human capital. AI provides other options, freeing staff to focus on the members in front of them, while AI nurtures prospects and leads. Mobile apps allow club operators to deliver exceptional experiences and engage on the members’ schedule.