Connection without Contact - Engage Your Team

Club Automation


June 10, 2020



minute read


June 10, 2020

We know that as you reopen with the different restrictions and guidelines put in place to keep your community safe, you need to be confident that your software solution has you covered from re-engaging your team and managing your facility. You need to be able to provide your members with the best possible experience, whether that's in person, virtual, or both.

We wanted to put on these webinars to walk through the resources and tools you have at your fingertips to help you reopen strong. We decided to kick this off with a discussion on engaging your team because essentially, your team is the foundation of your facility and they are going to be a key component in ensuring that you can reopen strong.

We are joined here by Shannon Fable, co-founder of GroupEx PRO.

Short on time? Here are the takeaways:

  1. Organize for effective communication. Divide the business communication out from the friendly communication so nothing ever gets lost in translation.
  2. Streamline communication for your staff. Teach everyone where to go to get the information, and put it in a place where they can act on it.
  3. Keep your schedule digital. If you rely on paper schedules, you’ll constantly be chasing updates and redistribution. Embrace the change that is bound to happen with your group fitness schedule.
  4. Test your schedules. The testing period will vary for every club, but you need to spend this time testing classes in different time slots and for different durations. Only then will you find your stride.
  5. If you’ve adopted a hybrid model, avoid treating each option as a completely different product. The clubs that continue to treat at-home and in-person like two separate offerings that need to be served up separately to two different types of people are going to be the ones that struggle.

For the full webinar, read below or play the recording above. 

Video Transcription  

Maria Morton: I'm very, very excited to introduce our Connection Without Contact Webinar Series. This is a series of three webinars that's taking place all this week, that's going to go over a series of contact list solutions that we have for you. Why did we do this?

We know that as you reopen with the different restrictions and guidelines that have been put in place to keep our community safe, you need to be confident that your software solution has you covered from re-engaging your team and managing your facility to providing your members with the best possible experience, whether that's in person or virtual or both.

We wanted to put on these webinars to kind of walk you through the resource and tools that you have at your fingertips to help you reopen strong with minimal direct contact. We decided to kick this off with a discussion on engaging your team because essentially, your team is the foundation of your facility and they are going to be a key component in ensuring that you can reopen strong.

We are joined today by Shannon Fable, who is the co-founder of GroupEx PRO. Shannon, would you be able to tell us a little bit about yourself?

Shannon Fable: Yeah, of course. Thanks, Maria. As Maria mentioned, I'm the co-founder of GroupEx PRO. My husband and I created this platform 13 years ago, and we were welcomed into the Daxko family about 18 months ago. I've been working with them as we integrate and begin to enhance this product. Well, I shouldn't say before, alongside, having GroupEx PRO as a software I've spent 25 years in the industry in a variety of capacities from group fitness instructor to manager, personal training, personal training manager, general manager, sales person, as well as being educator, freelance writer and somebody who's filmed a lot of videos for group fitness education.

My favorite job I've ever held has been in group fitness management and I've learned so much about how important one this department is for the club as all of you know that are on the call. Then adding that to my background in Communication Studies was my minor in college. Really, really passionate about talking, about communicating the deer team, this really interesting team, which I know we'll get into today.

But yeah, that's a little bit about me and super excited to be here today to chat with you.

MM: Awesome. Thank you, Shannon. Now, over the past eight weeks... You can tell from Shannon's quick bio, she's an incredible well [inaudible 00:02:25] over the past eight weeks to hear from Shannon and her gathered with GroupEx PRO series about everything from time management to the business of GroupEx PRO. I hope you guys have been able to sit in on a couple of those. I've been able to sit in all of them and they've been incredibly invaluable.

Definitely check them out, correct me if I'm wrong, Shannon, but they are still on your Facebook page. But now that clubs and facilities are beginning to reopen and often with very short notice, sometimes we've even heard of people opening with a few days’ notice and we wanted to bring Shannon back on to talk to us about the importance of communication and how GroupEx PRO can help you streamline that communication and re-engage yourself, if it has to be at a moment's notice.

Shannon taking this way back to our first webinar back in April, we asked you why connecting and communicating with your staff was important. At that time, you said that communication is a marathon. It should be well paced, well intentioned, and relevant. Now, like I just said, people are looking to reopen super quickly. Is that still the case?

Reestablish and Fortify Relationships

SF: Yeah, I mean, yes, always. It is the cornerstone of communication and I don't want anyone to listen today and go, "Oh my gosh, we did it wrong for the past three months," because what we're living through right now, I know you're tired of hearing the term, but it's unprecedented. Nobody has a rule book for it. We're doing the best that we can.

But if you had a good communication strategy prior to COVID, hopefully that continued during, in case you didn't or for some reason your HR team said, "No, absolutely not. You can't communicate with your team, especially your group instructors because you've furloughed them or they've been laid off." Now, it is important to reestablish a strong communication strategy that thinks longterm. Like it says here, it's a marathon. That's what I mean by long term. It is something that you continue to build on and you have to invest in. It has to be well paced.

Sometimes people think, "Well, paced means I'm only going to talk to them when it's necessary." What I'm experiencing right now as all these instructors that I have consulted with, or that are just my friends, have worked for me in different capacities. They're coming back to me and they're forwarding me all the communication from their clubs and they are pulling their hair out because in some cases, they're not getting anything.

In other cases, they're getting a flurry of communication that is coming in quick succession, rapid fire. They're having to digest it all. We have to understand that like every team inside of our facility has a different pacing of information, but the importance is the same. That's what I mean by well-intentioned and relevant. We have to anticipate that they want it, they need it, they want to be connected. They want to be in the know, especially with group fitness, right? They are your mouthpiece, both inside and outside of the club.

But we've got to make sure it's relevant to them and that they understand what part they play. I mean, I could go on and on about that all day, I guess you can tell that. But yes, it's still the case. That should be a quote you put up anywhere when you're communicating with your team to remember.

Communication and Connection amidst COVID-19  

MM: I've got it in my office, it's up there. That's also in the three pillars of communication. But I think one thing that people are concerned about is they know that their instructors and their team are... they're all over the place right now. They don't know... I think in our conversation we mentioned they could be dropping their kids off at an activity or they're doing their own thing. How would you recommend that kind of communication? How can we best communicate with our team now?

SF: Such a good question. It's something I've been preaching for 13 years. I'm going to talk specifically about group fitness. We forget sometimes because if you're the group fitness manager, you're the GM, you're the owner, the salesperson, this is probably a full or full-time job, right? And you're connected, you're interconnected to your colleagues, and your coworkers, and the broader ecosystem of the fitness facility.

Group fitness instructors are just as important, but they have varying levels of engagement. That's not something to be criticized or we can't stack rank them on their engagement because it is what it is, right? They're part time employees. They're very part time employees with lots of things going on outside of the club.

We talked about communicating with them, the number one thing we have to do is we have to streamline communication and we have to be able to do this not in person. We cannot rely on passing them in the hallways or meeting up at the watercooler or having a quarterly meeting. It's just not sustainable and it's not the pace of communication that this team needs to be the voice inside of your gym with these members that hang on their every word, right?

How to Streamline your Communication Channels

SF: We need to be able to do this from afar, but it has to be streamlined communication. When I say streamline that means only one input one output, not to say that you might not get the occasional text or the occasional phone call, et cetera. But you've got to teach them where to go to get the information and it's got to be a place where they can act on it when it makes sense for them versus you invading their inbox. That's the worst.

I mean, if you think I've been saying a lot in these webinars, it really has dawned on me as I've watched moms and dads try to engage with their work, everything that's going on in their personal lives, as well as what's happening with their children that are being homeschooled, the virtual schooling that we've been dealing with. Their number one complaint has been the inundation of email to try to manage their kids schedules from soccer to school, the Girl Scouts et cetera.

If you put yourself back in that place of how hard that was for you to manage, and knowing how important your children are, if you are a parent, or if you talk to any parents seeing what they were going through, put that on a group fitness instructor that teaches for you one day a week. They need the information, but if it's streamlined in a place where they can go interact with it versus interrupting them, then you just have a heightened ability to get your point across and get them to consume it.

You've got to organize information for them, not leave it to them. This is not a job that they're doing 40 hours a week where they're going to sit down for an hour each week and organize their inbox and their to-do list, right? We've got to make it really, really, really simple. That doesn't mean watering it down. It doesn't mean eliminating the information that might be bigger than just, "When do I show up and where are the keys to the stereo?" They still need to know all the information about what's happening at the club, what's happening in your department, what's happening for them individually, but we've got to do it in a streamlined way that allows them to proactively interact with it when it's good for them.

Organization for Effective Communication

MM: I love that point being made the dichotomy between interacting with versus interrupting them. I think, really emphasizing that is going to be key to engaging them and bringing them back into the community. Now, one of the things that we talked about is how you can organize that communication for them versus on relying on their own, on your team's own organization systems. Can you talk to us a little bit more about that and what you mean by that?

Establish a Reliable Channel for Business Communication

SF: Yeah. I think usually I explain it this way, you need to separate out business and pleasure. That sounds really weird, but let me explain. There is information that you need to get out to them that it's business. Again, I said, where are the stereo keys? Let's relate it to COVID. What are the new cleaning policies? What's the traffic flow going to be? How are you interacting with the new reservation system that most of you guys are having to entertain? Not just for capacity-based classes, but every class is now capacity based. That's business.

Sometimes when we use email as communication or a portal like a Facebook group, the business gets hijacked by the personal because you still have these people that might be friends, they might be having baby showers for one another, going out on happy hour, exchanging choreography notes, trying to find a sub, and all of a sudden, your stuff gets pushed down the list of importance.

The way that typically we react to that is then we start sending out things that are flagged as urgent. We try to flag it and then we become the little boy who cried wolf. The first thing you have to do is separate out business from pleasure. We have to have a place where it's a clean communication portal, where we can send out the information. They can see it, it's an order, date related order, anything that is no longer relevant can get deleted or archived so it doesn't clutter it and make it noisy. They should be able to comment back or ask clarifying questions or simply raise their hand and say, "Yep, got it, we're good," so that you can track the consumption and their understanding of the information.

Create a Track for Divergent Conversations

SF: We still need to have a place that we control and we can see and I hate to use the word control. It sounds bad. But we are the ones that direct the interaction and this pleasure, forums, so to speak, where they can talk to each other about personal things, or about classes, or about continuing ed or music or whatever the case may be. Same portal, different tracks, so that the important stuff rises to the top, but they still can spin this plate over here with pleasure. So that's important.

Don’t Flag Everything as Urgent

SF: Second thing I would say, like I was talking about the urgency, it's like nails on a chalkboard to me with group fitness managers because if it's something really important, like we scream, urgency, and "Alert, alert, you've got to read me, you've got to read me, you've got to read me," where we should have a streamlined system enough that everything can be consumed, but you should have a place where you can make something earmarking as special and push out.

For example, on GroupEx PRO, there is a staff app. The instructors have their own app that is curated just for them. It has all of the notices. It has all of the other forums that we were talking about, it has all of their sub information, all of their schedule information, and you can push out urgent sub requests and you can push out urgent notices. We talk during implementation about when and how to use those sparingly. You don't do it as a scare tactic, right? You do it when it truly is time sensitive, and you need to get in front of them in a quality manner.

That's really important and then your sub information has to be its own little piece. You cannot mistake or you can't conflate business with subs. Subs is its own animal. I mean, I hate to call it an animal but it truly is. I think coming back, we won't have as many subs right off the bat because there's going to be fewer classes and people are going to be committed to teaching their own classes.

As the subbing starts to come back, we really have to make sure that we corner that off. It gets highlighted, it gets tracked in a different way. There's transparency, it's easy to find, it's easy to sift through. Those would be the three big buckets, I would put it in business and pleasure, urgent versus reference. Then this silver piece has to live on its own inside, all inside the same portal, like we give you a GroupEx PRO, but easy for folks to compare and contrast between those three areas.

MM: I think it's incredible, all the things that you mentioned in that we can get that in one kind of easy to access format is crucial for managing time, being efficient, and getting things going quickly, right? So-

SF: I mean, sorry to interrupt you. I do hear from instructors. Again, I still am a sounding board for instructors that teach all over the world and their biggest frustration right now is there are different places for different things, right?

Email is the news. Then there's a Facebook group so they can do subs and there's another Facebook group where they can just talk about personal things. Trying to just think about yourself and all the places that you feel like you have to organize your input, and then think about if that was your part time job, how frustrating that would be. I get why we put it in separate places. But to know that there is a tool where that can all be under the same housing structure, but it can be its own little apartment with a door and the security code, that's what I mean by streamlining. You put it all in the same house, but organize it in a way where they can interact with the pieces they want and that the important pieces don't get hijacked.

Prioritize Better Lines of Communication with Instructors

MM: Definitely. Now in our past communications and kind of in what we've been speaking about now, we're often talking about group fitness managers and instructors, the communication between those two. Now, a lot has changed, right? Loads has changed. Is that communication dynamic still the same or do different people need to be communicating?

SF: What a great question. I mean, obviously the group fitness manager is always going to be a primary. Your job is to be the liaison between your staff, the members, upper management, the club in general. But right now, there is such a need. Group fitness instructors more so than even personal trainers are feeling quite displaced, quite displaced. They probably, depending on your facility, have not been super interconnected to higher management.

Now more than ever, owners GMs, all the managers inside your facility should have a direct line to them to communicate, not just through you. That doesn't mean that you aren't a great translator and that you shouldn't be the liaison. As I mentioned, I still think that's your number one job.

But at this moment in time, I think it is critical that owners and GMs 100% have a way where they can directly communicate to the instructors, and remember we talked about making it relevant to them. It can't just be what I'm seeing is that we're sending out emails to the entire staff. That's the one coming from management or ownership, but it doesn't speak to the specific part of the group fitness instructors play.

I guess what I'm trying to say, I'm beating around the bush. They need to know that you see them, care, and that you know how important they are to your club recovering strong. While that can be passed along by your GFM, if you... I get why owners and managers don't do it because they don't want to rely on emailing out to a team of 50 that is marginally engaged part time employees, 100% understand it.

But what they can do if you have a portal like GroupEx PRO is they can send out a notice on there. That is a one-way communication portal, right? They're not sending out their personal email address to then get 17 replies back to them. But you can be very authentic and very genuine and very direct with your connection point to that next layer of the ring, so to speak of your staff.

I think now more than ever it... I hear the stories from group fitness instructors and it hurts my heart to see how A, displaced they are and B, how much they don't feel like they've been seen during these 12 weeks while they've been away, so anything you can do to directly get back in front of them, and then hopefully stay in front of them. Like I said, with a portal like GXP it's easy like you'll log in once every month and just say, "Hey, how you doing? Here's what I noticed," the goodwill gesture and how much it'll always talk about depositing into their bank account or into their bucket. It will pay you back in spades.

I think it needs to expand beyond the group fitness manager communicating with them.

Communicate and Manage Ever-Changing Fitness Class Schedules

MM: I love that advice. We've taken it pretty big. I want to take a little bit more kind of logistical. Right now, many facilities are having to adjust their schedules that they originally had, whether that's to accommodate kind of virtual hybrid offerings or if that's to accommodate staffing, or if that's to accommodate space. From past webinars, I know your sentiments on paper, printout schedules.

From your experience, how do you recommend facilities handle these ever-changing schedules efficiently but also taking into consideration the need for a format with minimal contact?

SF: Oh my gosh. Okay. So-

MM: If you want to talk about your sentiments on paper printouts, you're welcome to.

Keep Your Schedule Digital

SF: I have forever been adept to paper and it's not just because I live in Boulder, where everyone is super eco-friendly and has been on that bandwagon for a very long time. Paper, I get why people need it and want it. It's because it's what they've always had. As long as we continue to give it to them, they will always request it.

However, I truly believe that during the last 12 weeks, people's behaviors have changed in a multitude of ways, right? And they have relied on digital. Let's ride that wave. I'll put the printed schedule to its side.

The other reason why you have to rely on a digital schedule right now is because if you are doing the right thing, we know that whatever you set in stone this week of your opening we see some of you guys are opening today, good luck with that. It was going to look like today, may be very different in two to three weeks. You may learn that this class isn't working anymore, these time slots don't work anymore. Like all the rules are out the window. Anything that we ever thought to be true about scheduling, we don't have a crystal ball, we don't know what's going to happen.

The Problem with Paper

SF: If you are committed to paper, you are forever going to be chasing updating the paper and you're forever going to have some members that don't have the right information and you will be the one that they hold responsible. It's the easiest PSA you can put out like in an effort to keep you up to date. We're eliminating printed schedule for the time being. That is 100% true.

The other thing if you've been to restaurants lately, I know we went to a restaurant this weekend. It was the most exciting thing to get served in glasses by someone other than myself. I digress. But I thought it was really interesting because they actually had a note on their table that said, "We're not printing menus. We have some menus if you absolutely need them and they are printed so we can throw them away. But in efforts to be eco conscious, and also to avoid even germs spreading that way, you've got your smart device, pull up our menu on a smartphone."

I was like, "Yes." And that way, they also told us, "The reason why we're doing that is our menu is changing daily, based on what you're consuming what we can get our hands on our supply chain." We can lean into something that's happening worldwide right now with no excuses. We don't have to make an excuse or apologize for not using paper.

Streamline Delivery of Class Schedules

SF: With your schedule, starting to change having this digital and retraining and where to go to get the digital. Now the same rules apply with your members, you've got to streamline where you are feeding them information about your schedule. It shouldn't be, "Go print the PDF down over here and hang it up on your fridge. Over here is the one that you can interact with. But we only update it a week at a time and then your subs are over here. Then we've got an app that has different information." All of your schedules need to jive and that's what we've always prided ourselves on at GXP. As you enter the schedule once that your instructors and your backend folks interact with, with regards to Sabine, knowing when they're teaching, reporting numbers, you doing all of your reporting on the backend for upper management.

But that schedule also updates real time to any member facing schedules you have whether that is embedded on your website, or if you have a third-party app. If you only have to enter it in once, then you're also saving yourself a ton of time and when you train your members to trust or I should say when they start to trust that the information they have access to is always going to be updated, marketing people, listen up, you now have eyeballs.

Members don't necessarily like to go to your website because most of the time it's a very static website that might have some member facing pieces, but it truly is to acquire members, acquire eyeballs. They're looking at your club and seeing if they want to come in and join your gym. If we have the number one thing people go visit on your website is your group in a schedule, and if it's dynamic, and it always has your subs up to date, it's always got your information up-to-date, that's where they reserve their classes.

Now you're going to train members to consistently be looking at your website, and you can serve them up anything that you need to serve them up, from, whether it's protocols, rules, regulations. All the stuff is going to be changing for the next couple of months, or even the next six months. I firmly believe you've got to find a system where group and its managers can be in control of it. They don't have to go through an IT Department or a Marketing Department or Web Department or any other department to wait, get their stuff updated. Make it dynamic, train the members to use it, and then you can use those eyeballs, like I mentioned, for good.

MM: Yeah, and I want to emphasize that again because when we were having a conversation before this, and you mentioned that, I hadn't even thought about it. But having your members trained to come back to your website and see these announcements and keep updated on schedule changes is going to be so valuable when you reopen in terms of communicating and giving them a better experience, so the clubs giving the members a better experience as well. That's phenomenal. That's great.

SF: Yeah.

The State of In-Person Fitness Classes

MM: If we take scheduling just a little bit further, a little bit more of the moment. In our first webinar, you predicted that facilities would need to offer less in-person classes. That was a bold statement, a very bold statement. What do you think now?

SF: I have so many thoughts. I have lots of thoughts and the number one thought is none of us have any idea. My fear right now is we only know what we know and what we know is in the past. How's that for a convoluted statement? We've been processing bulk schedule endings at GroupEx PRO. It's a feature or a service that we released a couple of weeks ago to clubs in case you guys are on here and need that done. We were bracing ourselves we need to see how many people took us up on it. How many people are completely wiping out their schedule and starting over. We were overwhelmed.

I do know if I can give you any inklings from other clubs. They're facing the same thing as you are. Many, many, many clubs are just clearing out their schedules and starting over. When I press that further and say, "What are you doing?" They're doing what we talked about. They're coming back with limited hours and limited schedules, because they're just not sure A, how the financials are going to work out. "How do I pay enough instructors to service the lower number of members that are going to be utilizing the service?"

Cost Per Head: Problems and Solutions

SF: This is especially true in the boutique market, and I know that's not who we're talking to now, but think about it, our average cost per head as an industry and a multipurpose health club. We were trying to get people to average under $2. We were telling people in main studios, in those big strength training classes, cardio based classes where you've got the big studios and they aren't typically capacity based. We're saying, "Try to get your numbers down to $1." Meaning, if I pay you, Maria, $30 to teach a class, I want at least 30 people in the class, does that make sense?

That's the metric that we've always lived and died by in group fitness. Now all of a sudden, most people are saying their studios can only handle about 10 people per studio in their big studios and multipurpose health clubs. So now that same $30 an hour instructor is servicing 10 members, which mean her cost per head just tripled. How long can we keep that up? The financials are challenging. We're going to have to limit the number of classes that we have, and we're going to have to be very, very, very closely watching whether or not people return to them and what they want to come to.

What are they willing to do? Because we also don't know who wants to come back and what's going to compel them to come back. We're going to have to be really, really good at reading the tea leaves, surveying members, seeing when they're coming, what times they're coming. The best way you can do that is it's a science experiment, right? Give them less things to choose from at first, see what happens, and then expand from there.

The worst thing you can do is go back with 50% year schedule, but it still be this behemoth with lots of variety in times, formats, links instructors, and not really be able to put your finger because once you get them coming back to your new schedule, as you know group fitness managers are very hard to get away. You'd rather start with less and expand, then start with more and have to contract. We just don't know from financials to whether or not they're going to like it, to whether or not instructors are going to be available, to sub when reality starts setting in.

I guess to answer your question succinctly, which I know I'm not doing, is start with less, go up to more. That's another reason why you need to have that dynamic schedule, so you can quickly change it, update it, and have a system that can handle light reservations, so you can give them a very simple interface to reserve and you can track how many people are signing up for those classes ahead of time as well.

Testing Schedules

MM: Awesome. I don't know if you can answer this question, but when you're talking about kind of these flexible schedules and testing with less and then building the more as you go, how long would you recommend a facility tests out a schedule? What do you recommend is the process for the best practice?

SF: Yeah, it's a great question. I think every club's a little different. I think the best thing that you can do though is, it goes back to great communication, tell them right away how long you're going to stick with a schedule. I mean, you can always give yourself an hour, right? There might be extenuating circumstances where you have to make changes on the fly. But back in the day, most clubs used to change their schedule every quarter.

Members became very used to providing their feedback, but knowing that it wasn't going to change until the next season. This is the new world; you need to come out with a very public statement. You have to communicate that to your instructors, make sure they know what's happening. I don't know what the perfect timeline is going to be, but let's say I know the F45 that I belong to here they said, "We're going to run this schedule for two weeks. We're [inaudible 00:27:56] how it works, and then we'll start making changes into those two weeks."

(Over)Communicate with Members and Instructors

SF: Maybe it's a two-week period, but whatever it is just get it out there so you can say, "Hey, members, this is our light reopening schedule. We're going to be monitoring it for 14 days. At the end of those 14 days, we'll then see if we need to add classes, change classes, et cetera." Or you could say it's a month. By yourself at least two to four weeks, don't do it weekly right now.

Like I said, give yourself a little asterix that say, "There may be extenuating circumstances where we have to fix something." Because we've got to be really empathetic to the plight of our instructors and knowing that a lot of them are moms that are very displaced right now with childcare, no camps, lots of kids at home, crazy schedules. They may be very committed to coming back in teaching. In two weeks, their whole world might be up ended. We've got to give ourselves an out. But try to be predictable, I guess is the best way I would answer that.

Hybrid Models for Group Fitness Classes

MM: That's great. Thank you. Kind of a similar question that we had. You can kind of see from the screen right here facilities are looking at virtual offerings as well as in-person classes. Can you dig in a little bit more about what owners should be thinking about for their fitness staff in terms of these hybrid offerings and what tools they kind of need to make them work for their club?

SF: Yeah, let me see best way to explain it. I think I did a LinkedIn post that got like 13,000 views on this conversation. Let me do it and not be polarizing. I think we are living in the new world of an versus or. Meaning, virtual and live are here to stay. Organizations that can figure out to have those two things peacefully coexist and feed each other are going to be the ones that win and come out ahead.

The ones that continue to treat them like two separate products that need to be served up separately to two different types of people are going to be the ones that struggle. The best thing you can do... This goes with studios too, right? The cycling studio versus the yoga studio versus the main studio. You need to have a place where… And even let me back up.

If we talk about studios, most of you have a yoga studio, a cycling studio, and a main studio. Then you probably have your personal training team doing some kind of fee-based programs on the basketball court, on the functional training. But maybe not right now, but you did in the past.

What I missed in the past because we have access on GroupEx PRO to everyone's schedules that uses our system and I do a lot of observing, like, how are they serving this up both inside the GXP system and also on their website to look at best practices. I see that many clubs always display all of these things separately. They don't have any one place where a member that is searching for all of their options on the wheel have options inside the club. They have to go to different pages on a website to see everything that's available, versus going to one place where they can see it all and they can filter it out and decide what makes sense for them, and also serving it up individually.

Make Schedules Easy and Intuitive for Members post COVID

SF: I think that's the same concept I want to bring forward into this new world, this post COVID world is that you're going to have a virtual schedule I hope and a live schedule. You'll have both of those in a group fitness schedule where people can see and easily understand this is a virtual class versus a live option. But what's being down on Sunday to make up my week's schedule, when I'm going to be able to work out based around all the nooks and crannies of availability, I can go, "Oh, okay. Well, on Monday, I'm going to need you virtually because I've got nothing doing my kid, I can't leave, I can't go to the gym. On Tuesday, I can go to this class live, et cetera."

You're going to want to have a place where it's universal, but it's easy to filter out and it's easy to delineate between the virtual and the none. Then you're also going to want to serve them up as separate schedules, because you may have people that only want to do virtual and you're going to want to market to people that only want to do virtual, both members and nonmembers. You're going to have people that only want to do live, so they should be able to go and get what they need live.

I hope that answers your question, but you need a system that allows you to do both. As you can see from the screenshot there, we made it really simple to do that in GroupEx PRO. You can build a schedule, but you can filter by location or category. Then any that you can filter by we can also serve you up the embed code, the HTML code, to showcase that on your websites separately, or together, which is really beneficial.

MM: Awesome. That answers my question perfectly. I did have one closing question for you before we open it up to Q&A. This is kind of a more general one that kind of bookends I think how I intro this at the beginning, but what role do you think that a club's team, their group fitness instructors, their staff as a whole are going to play in helping clubs reopen strong?

SF: I think-

MM: It's a loaded question. I know it's huge.

SF: I mean, it is but I'm going to answer as honestly as possible. Your staff that interacts with members on a day-to-day basis personal trainers group fitness instructors more so than anyone, they are the Alpha and Omega of your recovery package. Why I say that is in this great pause and this great app home workout experiment we've all been in, every member and non-member has realized that fitness information is ubiquitous. I can download free apps, I can download paper apps that are cheap, I can download paper apps that are expensive. I can get people from London to teach me a class or down the street to teach me a class.

Fitness is now at your fingertips and we can debate the merits of all those opportunities up one side and down the other. It doesn't matter. Members understand that fitness is not the unique selling proposition of the club. If they are coming back to your club, they're coming back for the community, a squat till you do it inside my fitness club, right? They are coming back for their relationships with your instructors and your trainers. They are coming back for the relationships with other members. They are coming back for the feeling they get being in a room surrounded by other people.

It is truly time for every person on the Org Chart inside of a fitness club to realize the part that they play. It is so much more than safe and effective exercise classes. If you want your members to come back, we really have to celebrate these heroes. They are the heroes of the club right now. Not to say that everyone doesn't play an important part, but as far as fostering relationships, they are your Alpha and Omega. That's why people are going to come back. We should celebrate that, honor that, and reward that. That goes back to the communication piece, right?

That's why we need to make them understand everything that's happening in the club. They need to know every protocol, everything you've done to get the club ready, how people reserve spots, how they sign up for classes, the patterns of flow, what classes are happening, is childcare open? They've got to know it all. We really have to integrate them into the greater ecosystem because they are going to be such a critical part in your recovery.

MM: I agree 100% with that, and I think that communication with your staff is going to be key to how you communicate with your members as well, which is going to help power that member experience. Thank you for that last reply.


MM: I want to transition now into our Q&A section. If you haven't had a chance to put a question into the Q&A, please do so. We have had a couple come through. Bear with me one second as I pull it up.  

One thing I think which ties into what we were just talking about was, how do you communicate new policies with your staff like in terms of cleaning or in terms of new requirements for their own professional development? Is there a tool that you use to do that?

SF: GroupEx PRO. But I'm going to give you a three-pronged answer. I want to narrow it down because there are different conversation topics. There are urgent, timely protocols that need to be explained. Let's talk about the COVID protocols. I am sure you have got a laundry list of things that people need to understand, not just specific to what the group fitness team is responsible for, but what else is happening outside of their responsibilities that will influence the interactions inside the studio or the experience that the members have. That's what I was looking for.

You've got to communicate those in three ways. One, there's got to be a notice about them being updated and where to go for more information and clarification. Two, there needs to be a reference document that is up-to-date, that they know where it is, that we don't have to rely on them keeping the most up-to-date one and reviewing it.

Three, you've got to give them a way to ask questions the way that we are, whether that is a webinar or virtual office hours. We've got to have some kind of meeting to pass along the information.  

Let me start with the meeting. You need to have the other two things ready but the meeting, this is the whole point of this webinar, right? It's got to be contact list. I was hearing again from instructors last week at a club here in Boulder that they get the notice on Friday and granted everything is moving so fast. It's no criticism on anyone. We don't have a playbook for this. But they get a notice on Friday that, "Hey, if you're planning on coming back and you want to teach, we have four days of training next week from 09:00 to 03:00 Tuesday to Friday. You have to be there to be considered."

Great. I know that there's a lot of information for you to get across but as a group fitness instructor that teaches one hour a week, I desperately want my job back but I also have a child at home with no childcare and no nanny because their autoimmune is suppressed so they can't come back into my house yet. How am I going to figure that out in two business days? That doesn't scream, you understand the different types of employees you have.

When I say meeting, I think you have to go contact list. You've got to have equal opportunity for all of your employees to show up if it's mandatory, and that can't be in-person for seven hours. That meaning your frontline staff, the people that do have full-time jobs, maybe you can make them do that because you're paying their salary or that you're going to be able to compensate them for that.

If it's something like a group fitness team, you still need to compensate them. But you've got to boil it down to again, being equally accessible for them, meet them where they're at, they are not full-time employees that are going to be able to do that. So you have a meeting, hopefully, this contact list, I would do it virtually. Maybe don't make them go to the broader one with the entire team. I mean, great if they have the opportunity to, but again, we go back to relevant.  

We've got to scale that information down, hit the highlights of the relevant points, and then tell them what it means to them, so that they can express in their own way, back it up with a notice, "Hey, as a reminder, we did this, we videotaped it. Here's the recording, go back and watch it. If you have any questions, I'll add virtual office hours to answer it."  

Then finally, have that reference document. You have to have some kind of SLP that goes up. So in GroupEx PRO, we have the Notices section where you can put that, we've got the Reference section where you can put it. But those are your three ingredients to ensuring they know something that's super timely and important during this time.

MM: Awesome, that's great. So next question we have is that you've kind of talked about this newest board and the various ways that you can communicate with your staff. It's important that club owners, that group fitness managers know their staff has read it, is there any way to see that?  

SF: Great question. Please do not invoke the, "I'm going to email you, hit Reply All," because I mean, I really wish there could be [inaudible 00:39:44] from email but that is like my personal mission in life. It is honestly one of the reasons why we created GroupEx PRO. I needed to give myself a way to send out notices without invoking the Reply All but have a way that I could track whether or not they read what I wrote.

There are a couple ways in GroupEx PRO. The easiest way is when you hit the notice, there's a little button that says, "I read it." You just train your instructors for confirmation that you have done it, click the I Read It button, and there's a benefit to them because I always have to tell them what the benefit is to them because then clicking “I Read It” is truly a benefit for us, right?

The benefit for them is it marks the notice as read. When they go back into interact with it when it's right for them, they've already read it, and they can see it and they can go to the next most important piece of information. Now when you click on the I Read It button as a group fitness manager, you see the list of all the people that have read it, which is super important. They can also comment on any notice, it's in there. Then by far, my favorite little stealthy spy thing that I made my husband put in there is if I go to the contact list, I can tell the last time that you logged in.

Even if someone is not... Or especially when you're just starting with GroupEx PRO, you're going to have to redirect that behavior to remind them it's your responsibility to proactively log in and check this system out. But you can begin quickly scan and go, "Okay, Maria, Marissa, and Lauren, you've not logged in since December of 2019. You need to jump up."

Those are the things you can see if people did it. But you definitely don't want to do an email with Reply All. You don't want to do read receipts. You want to do something that there is a benefit for them to respond to you, and something you can quickly scan and then politely redirect if it's not going your way.

MM: Awesome. Thank you. We've got time for one last question. We've talked a lot about group fitness managers, but obviously they're not the only staff that needs to be communicated. Is GroupEx PRO suitable for other staff members?

SF: Yeah, sure. I mean, I always hesitate saying that because it definitely was created for group fitness managers and group fitness teams. All the languaging inside is very group fitness specific. It's not an agnostic communication tool like a Slack or Microsoft Teams. But we have seen tons of multipurpose health clubs successfully integrate front desk staff, childcare staffs, aquatic staffs where they too can put out notices because you could set them all up as different locations inside of one multipurpose health club.

We can help you in implementation. But let's just, for example, suppose you have health club A and you've got group fitness staff is location A and your front desk staff is location B and your aquatic staff is location C. As the owner or the GM of that club, I can send out a notice to all of those locations simultaneously. Then the managers of those departments can communicate with their location independently to bring relevancy from that higher level, club conversation or club communication. Great way to swap out ships for people on the front desk and have visibility to it and transparency.

There are a lot of parallels with things you can do is specifically for the front desk staff, personal trainers, childcare, and aquatics like lifeguards and folks that man the pool. I'd say yes to that.

MM: Awesome. Well, that is the time that we have for today. First of all, I want to give a massive thank you to Shan for again, another super valuable webinar about best practices for communicating with staff and also kind of walking us through what GroupEx PRO can do to help us streamline it.

Also, thank you to everyone who's tuned in today. Again, I know that you guys have super busy days. We really appreciate you giving us an hour of your time to sit in on this first webinar. As I mentioned, this is part of a series and we'd love to have you join us on Wednesday for our second webinar and the Connection Without Contact Series on Power Your Member Experience.

That's going to be at Wednesday, at the same time as today. We will be sending out our registration link via email with the recording of this webinar. Thank you, Shannon. Thank you to everyone and enjoy the rest of your afternoon. Take care.

SF: Thank you. Bye.

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A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!


A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

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