The Experience Episode 1: The Intro

Anna Sims

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June 21, 2022

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category

minute read

PUblished

June 21, 2022

Welcome to The Experience Series! We are here to give the health and wellness industry a platform to learn and share strategies for member experience. In this first episode, we’ll be:  

  • Introducing our hosts, their backgrounds, and how each of them got their start in the health and wellness industry
  • Explaining the impetus for this content series
  • Giving a preview of what’s to come!

Join industry experts Nick Thornton and Daron Allen as they share industry voices, trends, and how to implement the best member experience.  

Episode Transcription

Daron Allen: Well, hello everybody. And hello, Mr. Nick Thornton. My name's Daron Allen. Nick, I'm so glad to be here with you today and our podcast that we're gonna be talking about here, The Experience. I’m really excited, because what we're going to be doing is we're going to be giving back to the industry.  

The goal of this podcast is really, it's a platform to learn and share strategies for the member experience.

And we're going to be talking with some industry voices, talking about some different trends and really just different strategies in this new world that we're in here to implement the overall experience for the member all the way through, from marketing, sales, to member experience.

Nick, I'm excited to be here. First podcast here. People probably want to know a little bit about us. So, Nick, where are you from, man?  

Get to Know Nick

Nick Thornton: Yeah, so I grew up in Auburn, California. The irony of that is that I live near Auburn, Alabama, but I root for [The University of] Alabama. It's one of these things where you go back to your roots.

That is a city in Northern California, born and raised there. My family to this day lives there, my parents extended family, things of that nature. But I do live here in Birmingham, Alabama.  

One of the cool things for us is, growing up out West, I've always been outdoors, and I've always just enjoyed the activities that entails, so I really enjoy that.

People want to know a little more about me. My wife is a Dominican, so she comes from the Southern part of the world. We are living here in Birmingham and enjoy this place along with my three daughters. I know that's something you and I have in common, Daron.

We both. Three girls. And I'm sure you'll talk a little bit about that, but, uh, uh, if anybody ever needs any wisdom from Daron and I on how to raise daughters, um, give us a shout as well that one's free. May even have a book recommendation. I'll let Daron handle that one.  

Get to Know Daron

Daron Allen: Yeah. And if we get our buddy Steve Ayers involved in here too then we could do a webinar series, a book training, what to do, what not to do with three girls.

I actually grew up in a small town in Texas. It's called Kerrville, a small town. I grew up playing all sorts of sports. That was a big part of my life. I'm living in the tech hub and the cool city of Austin, Texas now, and really enjoying that.

I am married to my wife, and she's a physician. We have three girls, so life is good down here in Texas.

Nick Thornton: That sounds awesome. So, as we were digging into this and thinking about this podcast, Daron, we met what? It's been about three, four months back.

Well, I guess we met prior to that, but really started working together in the space [3 or 4 months ago].  

When did you get involved in the whole fitness industry? This didn't just come about the other day. Tell me a little bit about your background and how you've been involved in health and wellness.  

Experience in the Fitness Industry

Daron Allen: Yeah, absolutely. And thanks. I'm really glad, Nick, that I made such an amazing impression upon you that you've totally forgotten about how long it's been since we met.

Nick Thornton: What was it about two or three years ago?

Daron Allen: Yeah, it's been a little while, but it's all good. I'm just kidding with you, brother. I actually got involved in fitness at an early age, because I was doing so many different sports, right?  

Basketball and tennis and soccer and baseball and everything you can imagine. I would say I got involved really early, but I really took my workouts to the next level in college.

I actually had a basketball scholarship. So, really it was next level workouts. I ended up lettering in three sports. I went to a small college, obviously. Then I would say that I was motivated pretty significantly, because I actually earned Academic All American honors in basketball.

But it's just really being driven and having a goal, that drove me. So that's how I got started. And it's just sort of been a part of a part of life in sports. How about you, Nick? Tell me a little bit about when you got started.  

Nick Thornton: Well, mine as well is funny.

You mentioned basketball, but I guess I'm thinking now I probably shouldn't challenge you to a one-on-one match. May not be a wise decision.  

Daron Allen: You probably can because you're a little bit bigger, taller, stronger, younger looking fellow than I am, but just don't leave me outside alone.  

Nick Thornton: Yeah. That's what they all say until they start doing the three-ball ringer on you, and then you're wondering what's going on.

To go back to it, it's funny. Sports was [what it was like] growing up for me, a big part of my life. I really spent time mainly in basketball, but also played soccer growing up. One of the things that really became a passion for me was cycling.

I'm a big cyclist to this day, but even when I was young, 12, 13, 14 years old, I started mountain biking a lot in Northern California.

It was a fun time of life. I would tell you just diving into the fitness industry, for me, it really started when I was in high school. We've talked about the gym being another destination for an individual for a social aspect.

Your home is primary. Maybe a church is secondary or another social group, but the gym is right up there in the top three probably for many individuals.

For me, when I was about 16, I actually joined my first gym. It was a little racket club in Auburn, California, and that really became a part of my life. All the way through college, I spent time in the campus rec facility, done workouts with CrossFit, started my career in sales almost 22 years ago.

And at that point, I was doing a bootcamp at lunch in a basement of this building. It's always been part of who I have been as an individual. My daughter is already a member at our gym here, locally, our kids, my wife participating. It's just something I'm passionate about.  

What’s really cool is, Daron, is you and I work in this industry every day. We’re passionate about it personally and want more people in the world to experience this. And I think that's why this podcast for me is so exciting is to get more people into clubs is really at the core of what we want to do and to learn from in the industry.

“Getting more people into clubs is really at the core of what we want to do.”

Daron, as we kind of flip the tables here, tell me a little bit about your work history. What has led you to this place where you're at today? And maybe we can tap into that a little bit.  

Daron Allen: Yeah, I think for everybody that may be listening, if you get into this industry, it's because you have a passion.  

You want to help people. You want other people to live healthier, happier lives.  

I got my start early on. I was a personal trainer and then I moved into the sales side of the business. Then back in 1999, I was a co-founder with VFP and the primary purpose for the founding of VFP was we wanted to make the sale of health and fitness more tangible.

It was really hard to understand the benefits and how you're going to do it, and it was just not tangible. We were focused on that.  

And then we also wanted to increase the emotional readiness for people to exercise. That was really the nexus of the technology and how we got going currently today in my new role.  

I'm the VP of Enterprise CRM for Motionsoft, Club Automation, CSI Spectrum, and VFP.

What I'm really excited about our series, Nick, is giving back to the industry with some golden nuggets. I think one of the things that was a great foundation for me throughout my career was, we ended up building over 300 unique custom sales systems for every club brand out there.  

All sorts of different club brands, everything from Crunch to 24 Hour Fitness, The Edge, Good Life Fitness, Gold’s Gym, more.

The amount of experience and opportunity to build unique different sales systems based on the goals has given me a unique perspective that I'm really excited to give back to the industry and hopefully people will get some golden nuggets.  

Enough about me, Nick, tell me just a little bit about you, what you're doing and how you really have gotten going in the industry with all of your expertise.  

Nick Thornton: It's interesting. My path is a little bit different than yours.

My career in fitness really started about eight years ago. Prior to that, I was in telecommunications and doing a lot with big data center sales, things of that nature, private networks, to really help businesses with business continuity.

One of the things that I've always done though is build sales teams. I was there for 14 years, had a series of different teams, and really have enjoyed that part of my career. In the last eight years, I've been dedicated at our parent company Daxko, and in that company spent some time really focused on the YMCA business, JCCs.  

Over the last five years, I have spent most of my time in the enterprise club space and really have learned to enjoy it. Figuring out one how to build teams is really important for us internally in the club division at Daxko. As a Vice President of Sales, I lead more of the strategic part of building the team and the structures.

How do we go to market? For example, VFP recently coming on board. How do we bring that into our process and get our sales teams embracing new technologies?  

What's really been fun though, as this relates back to clubs and why I think I can bring a lot of value to different sales leaders throughout the industry is this: it really comes down to some fundamental things that we can dig into. It starts with people.  

The top starts with a good brand. What are you trying to do at your club and really hone in on? What is uniquely different about your club versus another, and how do you get that message out to the right people at the right time?  

I love what you said earlier. It's really getting people to feel comfortable entering a club. That's sales, and it's not something that's just easily done.

We have a lot of people in the fitness industry that are focused on this activity, as well as diving into, well, how do you know you've got the right system? That's comp plans, that's process. That's all these different things that really maximize, the team that you've hired.

I'm really excited, Daron, to leverage our two strengths, speak into this for the industry, but learn from all the other experts out there.

We're hoping some people would even call us up. I think they have a good point to make. We’d love to include you in the podcast and really bring some insights into how we maximize experiences at the club and draw more people in. I'm really excited about that, Daron.  

I know we talked a little bit about giving people a highlight of this podcast series. Maybe you can  just share a couple of the ideas that we have to kick this off in the next few episodes.  

Episodes to Come

Daron Allen: Yeah, absolutely. I know we're actually going to be coming up to the end of this initial podcast here pretty shortly, because we are trying to keep this in relatively short segments.

It’s going to be quick hitting. We're going to be giving people some golden nuggets that hopefully they can take that are action.  

One of the things that we are going to focus on right out of the gate is member acquisition.  

As the industry is coming out of the COVID era and we're moving into an era where we're really just thriving, we're moving forward and we're going to be talking about member acquisition.

Having worked with clubs all over the country and the globe, frankly, at what's working. How are clubs getting members to engage, getting back into the club more quickly? What are some of the strategies around nurturing and communicating to those leads? How do you engage them?

We’re going to be talking about those things. You mentioned something else, Nick, that I know that you're an expert in that I'm really excited about.

We'll have a, a dedicated podcast on compensation. How do you align compensation properly? What that plan is to get the results that you're looking for. We can also do that based on different business models.  

Those are just a few of the things that we're going to be talking about. Like we mentioned, we're going to have some other people joining us on the podcast that have additional expertise.  

Nick Thornton: Yeah. I think, Daron, to highlight something too, it's creating that full rounded experience.

I know we’re going to start with member acquisition, but at the same time, we're going to go into the depths of it and really talk about the full journey of members through the club and tapping into different areas as we go through these series.  

As we wrap up today's session, if you were to say, “Hey, come back and listen," one highlight that I wanted to give is, we are two people passionate about this industry. We want you to win at your club at the end of the day. It's about you growing. When you grow. We grow. One of our themes right now is Thrive Cubed. It's really this idea that when you, our customers, and then your members thrive, we all thrive together.  

That's really about who we are. Daron, any parting thoughts before we wrap up?  

Wrapping Up

Daron Allen: One of the things that I wanted to part with and leave everyone with is, as I mentioned, the goal is to give you a golden nugget. Every time.  

One of those is going to be around sales training for your staff. Yes, it is incredibly important right now when we're trying to get members back into the club and drive that membership growth that you are actually not skipping any of the sales training that you might need to be focused on.

We are going to have some nuggets for you when you come back on the next session.

Nick Thornton: Thank you for joining the experience. Check back next time for another episode on how to take your club to the next level for more content, and to stay up to date with the experience follow Club Automation, VFP, and Motionsoft on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. We'll see you next time.

The Experience Series is produced by Kevin Mulligan, Nick Thornton, and Daron Allen. Sound production and editing by Kevin Mulligan. Creative and graphic design by Jenny Miller. Special thanks to Kayla Canon and Marissa Meyers for planning and coordination.

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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!

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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!

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