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Automate or Stagnate in 2020

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Does this sound even partly like you? - You’re running early morning sessions, lunch classes and most evenings you have more classes to do. Then you have to follow up enquiries, check to see if your staff (if you have any) have signed up the hot prospects and done their admin, chase-up being paid and maybe, just maybe, then you might get to have time for yourself and family. And that’s not taking into account, designing promotional stuff, sending follow up emails or messages to members, setting up gradings, running training camps, organising tournament teams, accounts etc. You sometimes feel like you’re trying to juggle way too many balls at once and its downright stressful! Regardless of what type of business you have, many business owners suffer exactly the same challenges and stresses and generally it can be summed up that you’re stuck working IN the business rather than ON the business. Is this you? (Be honest).

It doesn’t have to be that way; in fact, if this is even a little like you, you’re already falling behind in the world of business success, but good news is; its not too late to catch up! You don’t have to look too far to find the answer to your needs either, as many of your colleagues in the industry have already cracked this one and can be found driving nice cars, taking scheduled holidays, spending time with family, being much more financially stable and generally HAVING A LIFE! What’s the difference between them and you? THEY’RE AUTOMATED! Amongst all of their promotional ideas, program designs, team support and their sexy looking school premises they have systems in place and the right IT programs to automate much of their business. Ask anyone!...that is anyone who has 500, 1,000 or many thousands of members if they do it without software managing their club; there’s no such person! If you want to be successful, follow the success trail. Its not rocket science, just good old fashioned business sense! EXCUSE # 1: “It’s too hard.

I don’t know how to use software and it will take too long” - BullS#!T!! Anyone can learn how to use a decent software program as the decent ones are designed to be intuitive enough that anyone can pick it up. If you can learn how to drive a car and use a smart phone (not at the same time), you can do this! If you knew that by using a good club management program it would save you 2-3 hours per week minimum, enrol an extra 2 students per month and help you retain 1 per month (who would have otherwise left), would you do it? Well that’s actually the industry minimum standard. Excuse # 1...smashed! EXCUSE # 2: “Can’t afford it. I’m too small to afford software” - Firstly the RIGHT software doesn’t cost much at all. You can find a great software which will automate many of your work tasks for around $50/Mth. Secondly, any software worth its salt will actually MAKE you Money, not cost you money (I’ll explain how next) All club management software suites on the market also grow with you. That is to say, the more members you have, the more they charge and the more business features they come with to help pay their own way. So… it costs you $50 per month, you gain 2 more members per month using it, you retain 1 member per month using it, you save 8 hours per month using it...for $50? I’ll let you do the value math. Excuse # 2...smashed! EXCUSE # 3: “I don’t have time to learn it or do the extra admin” - I think it best to finish off the excuses by sharing the typical comments from those using software to run their club/s:
Excuse 1: “I’m a complete techno-phobe so if I can learn how to use it, anyone can!”
Rosie Excuse 2: “My club has grown from a start up of 25 at open to more than 250 in six months thanks to automating my admin, marketing and processing. We are now about to sign a new lease for a larger location and now I focus my time on marketing”
Julie Excuse 3: “I’m saving around 8-10 hours per month and I’m planning our first holidays in 4 years!”
Paul Excuse # 3...smashed! Now we’ve dealt with your excuses for not joining those already using automations or hopefully at least you’re more curious, let’s look a little more deeply at what we mean by automations. In particular, what are some of the more powerful and most liked by successful club owners as reported by users world-wide.

For this I’ll break it into 3 categories: Gain (members), Retain (members) and Time-savers. GAIN - If you’re spending good money and time marketing your club, you already know how frustrating it can be to see a good prospect slip through your fingers simply because you didn’t have a decent sales progression system in place, someone failed to follow up in a timely manner, or you didn’t look as professional as the place down the road. The message is all about communication; the more and better you communicate your service offer and the benefits to the prospect, the more likely they will join up! A decent club management software will allow you to automate emails and or push notifications (if they also have a member App). When someone responds to your Facebook CTA button, they should progress to a landing page (on your website or hosted) and from there they should see more reasons to join along with an automated link to your software’s on-line joining. If they don’t join, they should then fall into an email campaign series designed to win them over (many with other CTA’s to join). Eventually many prospects will take up your offer, perhaps a Free ‘taster session’, a paid trial or a short transformation program.

Immediately your automation will then send them a ‘Welcome letter’ of your design from your templates stored in the software, along with a copy of your T&C’s, their payment schedule for legal purposes and all without you lifting a finger. Also you or your designated staff member should be notified by the software that a new member has just joined up in case you want them to receive a personal welcome call. That’s just one of many automations which will help you gain more members; once set up, you just keep reaping the rewards. RETAIN - As soon a a member joins your club, its important they feel welcomed and valued, not only when they are in the club, moreover, they need to feel the club is supporting their aspirations and you’re there to support their journey. Research shows that the more regularly a member hears from their club, the longer they stay.

In the end, they stay, they play and they pay! Automations for your communications can be aligned to the member’s journey such as emails or messages of support, congratulating them on their milestones (attendance etc), keeping them informed of additional or new services you’re offering, opportunities to upgrade, offers to introduce friends with an incentive, birthday messages and other festive messaging. You will also notice an uplift in the positive vibe in your club when your members feel connected to the club through automated messaging. Some software suites, come with many of these ‘retention’ templates already designed, so you can simply turn them on! TIME SAVERS - Rather than using PayPal, Stripe, other merchant facility machines or chasing members to deposit money into a bank account, you will not only save money by using a billing provider, you won’t be spending your weekends scouring your way through banking records trying to reconciliate your incoming finances and chasing delinquent payments. The better software suites on the market are integrated for automatic payments through a billing provider. Note of warning here though as not all billing companies are created equal so to speak. Look for one which doesn’t charge high transaction fees (Should be under $1 for bank direct debits). Automated payment processing and retries for failed payments, automated communications to members over defaulted payments, notifications to the club owner of defaults, automated default charging are all what you should be using.

Other popular time saver automations include automated weekly reports on sales, conversions, email openings and marketing results. You should also be able to set future payments, suspend payments (holidays etc), automated grading/progression lists based on attendances, many other automated communications based on triggers of your design. Once in place, these have the potential of saving you over 100 hours per year, worth thousands. If you’re not Automating your club in 2020 then you are stagnating as others will be overtaking your business. As one club owner noted to me recently: “If I didn’t have automations in place I’d soon lose my place in the industry”

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