Make Your Club Future-Proof Using Client Data

Jan 19, 2016 - 6 min read
Business Analytics with Virtuagym

In a saturated market full of competing clubs, it can be hard as an entrepreneur. It’s still perfectly possible to run a successful business. However, it might be harder than it used to be, not only because there is more competition, but also because of an increasing amount of completely new concepts and business models that compete for the same clientele. So now more than ever is the time to distinguish yourself, to innovate your concept, and to keep re-inventing yourself. You’ll have to keep working at it to keep running a successful business. A key element to competing is using your client data in  a smart way. In this blog, I’ll give some pointers on using client data to provide your clients with better services.

Be Wherever Your Clients Are

To be distinguishing, you need to be able to reach the client and to know what goes on in their heads. That’s why every business owner should ask themselves every day: “Do I really know what matters for client 1, 150 or 183?” How to answer that question? You can hardly talk to everyone, let alone analyze their answers. The obvious follow-up question is therefore: “How do I get to know what matters to my clients?” The first step to answer that question is to be where your clients are.

In practice, this means that you should analyze the interests of your clients as well as industry trends. Trends can be easily discovered by reading blogs, visiting events, and via various other channels. Figuring out the interests of your clients might be a little trickier. Maybe you’re wondering how on earth to go about it.

Don’t be afraid to just ask your clients. What social media networks are they on? Do they use fitness gadgets such as wearables? What blogs do they read? What apps do they use? As you get the answers to your questions, study their networks, read those blogs, and research those apps. As you learn more and more, you can not only react, but start anticipating on their wishes and provide your clients with the services they currently receive from a different provider.

Get to Know Your Clients - The Data Way

The next step is to really get to know your client. Unlike big data, you can use small data to get to know your clients, while big data can be used to segment people in groups that have similar interests. Client data allows you to really analyze them down to the smallest details. Consequently, you can engage, stimulate, reward and trigger on an individual level - four elements that are crucial to the long-term success of your club.

Fact remains that you need to extract your data from somewhere, which is where cloud-based software comes into play. With an app or a web platform that are connected to the internet of things you can gather that information and extract the relevant data. And we’re not only talking about your cardio equipment, but also your access control and drink dispensers. Don’t use data just because it’s hip, but because it’s one of the best retention tools you can imagine.

Let me give you a few examples:

  • What do your clients eat?
  • How do they work out?
  • What are their goals?
  • How are they progressing towards those goals?
  • Do they work out as much as they’d like to?
  • Which classes do they attend?

Imagine that people receive a notification from your own mobile app when they haven’t attended their go-to group class for a couple of weeks, or that a work out plan is assigned to them tailored to achieving their new goal. There’s hardly a better trigger.

Can’t beat them? Join them! This hits the nail on the head when you look at the fitness industry. Far too often, fitness entrepreneurs resist technological developments, leading them to lose market share (the audience that does value technological developments) and lag behind the business that do embrace these developments. It’s not only important to go along with these developments, but to understand them, to be able to promote them, and to incorporate them into your business strategy. A small example is the use of activity trackers. Some people are skeptical about the usefulness of these devices, and from experience I can only respond to this by saying: think again.

In the end, you want to have a rock-solid business concept, but that won’t happen overnight. You’ll need to keep trying out new technologies, explain them to everyone willing to listen, and you’ll need to keep exploring and developing new successful user cases for your new products. When you’ve managed this, you can work towards three goals:

  • Inspiring and motivating your clients using the new fitness technology
  • Improving your client insights to optimize your workouts and to make them more personal (which has a huge impact on client satisfaction and by extension on your retention strategy)
  • Creating a lucrative business model. Judging by the reselling opportunities a lot of wearables provide, there’s revenue to be made there as well.

In the end, however, no-one will buy something from you if you don’t know the product yourself, if you don’t promote it, and if you can’t clearly convey the benefits through success stories and user cases. Always keep that in mind.

Reach multiple markets with different business models

As mentioned before, knowing and inspiring your clients is key. However, you are still a business, and for most business owners the most important thing to measure success is the growth of revenue and profit. So, it’s all the more important to look for new target audiences or new business models. You can discover these by going where your (future) clients are.

Differentiation is important when developing new business models. Make sure to always clearly describe the difference between the various options. For example, you could launch a four-tiered business model:

  1. A basic membership
  2. A PRO membership
  3. A challenge-based upsell
  4. An (online) personal training upsell

Logically, the basic membership is the cheapest option, for which you only offer individual training during limited hours. The PRO membership might contain a monthly measurement and professional advice via appointments. The challenge-based upsell is an extra temporary membership, where people work in group form towards a common goal. The participants motivate each other because they’re all working towards the same goal, and because they paid extra to participate. Finally, there’s the most expensive variant for the die-hards, the online personal training upsell. This subscription offers active and personal client coaching.

Of course, this is just an example. The most important aspect of this example is that you should aim to diversify your in-house revenue streams, simply by offering clear but different variants.


To really offer your clients the service that they expect in 2016, you can’t get away with merely knowing them by name. You need to know as much as possible and take the lead in getting them where they want to go. Which means: analyze your clients, get to know their interests, interact with them, stimulate engagement by using your own app, and promote the use of activity trackers and other wearables (the resulting data is invaluable). All while keeping the following goals in mind: making each contact moment personal, increasing client satisfaction, improving client coaching and your brand awareness, boosting your retention rates, and most importantly, making sure every new client experience is better than the one before.

Join 51,035 other fitness professionals and get free updates

By submitting this form you agree to our privacy statement

Jasper Degreef

My name is Jasper Degreef and I'm the Global Sales Director at Virtuagym. I left the beautiful city in Utrecht for Amsterdam to join the team at the Virtuagym offices. Besides working for Virtuagym I love traveling, fitness and playing football and tennis.