Innovation is a trending topic in the business world, notably among technology companies striving for exponential growth. Business innovation isn’t reserved for unicorn technology companies though. The health club industry can greatly benefit from innovation programs too.

Back in June, CSI Spectrum co-sponsored IHRSA’s webinar in which Matt Parrott, VP of Business Development at Corporate Fitness Works, presented on building an innovation program for fitness businesses. In this webinar, Dr. Parrott defined “business innovation” as an organization’s process for introducing new ideas, workflows, methodologies, services or products.

The Importance of Innovation

Innovation not only ensures your members are receiving the best value and service possible, but it also gives you a competitive advantage. If your club doesn’t innovate, a competing club will. A common misstep among large companies in general is the tendency to become complacent. There are countless examples in every industry where the incumbent market leader slows innovation while a hungry start-up competitor slowly steals market share.

In the club industry, innovation may refer to programs, class types, technology adoption, equipment or facility layout. Every aspect of your health club is ripe for innovation, and the willingness to test innovative ideas is a massive competitive advantage.

Consistent Ideation 

There is no shortage of ideas in the world, and your health club is no exception. Your club’s community, from staff to members, has ideas about how you can innovate and improve. The challenge is to encourage your community to share ideas, and this is accomplished by making your health club a safe space to give feedback. The best ideas emerge from brainstorming without fear of rejection. Most ideas never see the light of day because people crush it before it can even be discussed.

Like Dr. Parrott mentioned in IHRSA’s June webinar, there are countless reasons to say “no.” The challenge, then, is to develop a process that allows your team to say “yes.” The first step in purposefully getting to a “yes” is to create an innovation process. Effective process components, like Dr. Parrott mentioned in IHRSA’s June webinar, are: idea sharing vehicles (surveys, forms, performance reviews, customer feedback, etc.), idea vetting committee, feasibility study, data collection/due diligence and a pilot program. The pilot program, in particular, can test the team’s patience. Leaders must understand that mistakes will be made, and failure is the most important result of a pilot program.

Defining Quality Innovation

A quality innovation program can invigorate your health club if properly managed. If your health club encourages idea sharing and has an objective system for ensuring only the best ideas win, you are constantly creating margin between you and your competitors. Not only that, but your health club is delivering a consistently amazing member experience.

The signs of a quality innovation program at your health club are: reimagined business models, new products or services, strategic partnerships and new marketing strategies. Challenge the status quo and your assumptions about the club industry and strive to make these signs an obvious part of your business.