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The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
features

SOFTWARE: Data is the oil of the 21st century. How do you unlock its wealth?

Many operators store a vast amount of data in their systems but never use it. Could they be sitting on a gold mine? Rhianon Howells investigates new developments in data mining that are aimed at unlocking this hidden wealth

Published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 6

It was Peter Sondergaard, head of research at Gartner, who famously claimed that data – or, more specifically, information – is the “oil of the 21st century”.

In the health and fitness industry, as in any other, there’s no doubt that data is an invaluable asset, delivering greater business insights. This in turn enables more tailored offerings, better customer service and more effective retention strategies, which ultimately drives revenue and profit. But, like crude oil, data is worthless until it’s extracted, refined and put to use. Information is oil, Sondergaard said, but “analytics is the combustion engine”.

Most operators already collect data on everything from their customers’ preferences and habits to financial measures such as income and costs – but how can they improve their access to and understanding of this information and, more importantly, use it to benefit their business? We look at some key areas.

Retention
Analysing and responding to attrition and retention data is vital to improving performance in these areas. Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) County Borough Council, which runs 10 leisure sites, uses Gladstone’s business intelligence tool eyeQ to generate reports in this area, then adjusts its procedures accordingly.

“We made changes to our corporate membership renewal process after an eyeQ report identified a high drop-off in corporate membership numbers at the annual renewal point,” says the council’s business manager John Hancock. “Looking into this, we concluded that the renewal process was too long-winded and formal, and we simplified it accordingly.

“The drop-off of corporate membership renewals at our facility has now more than halved, from 25 per cent to 10 per cent, and length of stay has obviously increased as well.”

Taking this kind of action on the back of a report is risky if you’re not 100 per cent sure of its reliability, however – and before eyeQ, the council didn’t have enough confidence to do this. “Our previous system was more complicated and often led to the same data delivering slightly different results, depending on who ran the report,” says Hancock.

In contrast, eyeQ’s Query Builder means that, as long as you have a reasonable understanding of your database, producing specific data extracts is simple, while the ability to export the data to Excel means the reports can be easily understood. The key, says Hancock, is that “even with different report routes, the end results are the same”.

Cost savings
Data mining can also lead to substantial cost savings. Serco Leisure, which manages 70 facilities, has made annual savings of more than £1m by driving down utilities bills using Legend’s proprietary business intelligence solution.

A key feature of Legend’s solution is its targeting and alerting functionality, which allows operators to set targets within specific sets of data. If these targets are not met at any point, managers receive a real-time alert which enables them to take immediate action. “This allows customers to avoid ‘analysis paralysis’, which is a genuine risk when there’s so much data available in modern leisure management systems,” explains Legend MD Sean Maguire.

In the case of Serco Leisure, the operator set reduction targets for its water, gas and electricity consumption based on the previous year’s results – for example, ‘reduce gas consumption by 5 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared with the same month last year’. If a centre fell behind on a target, managers were alerted to intervene, perhaps by implementing actions that had proved beneficial at other centres. The analysis also enabled the company to pinpoint when the performance of a centre was out of kilter with that of its other centres, which helped to identify specific issues such as a leak, an equipment fault or ineffective insulation.

According to Keith Thomas, MD of Serco Leisure, not only have these savings been significant in themselves, but they have also enabled the company to be more environmentally accountable – “something to which Serco Leisure is 100 per cent dedicated”.

Income management
Another area where data mining can make an impact is income management. Life Leisure, which manages 13 facilities in Stockport, has achieved a 19 per cent rise in direct debit income and a halving of direct debit failures using the financial reporting and forecasting feature within Legend’s business intelligence solution, says the operator’s chief executive Malcolm McPhail.

This is largely thanks to more efficient BACS processing. “Much of the success in fees processing is down to ease of use when doing small but important daily administrative tasks, combined with the accuracy of the data,” says Maguire. “If you can easily run status reports that highlight issues, you can remedy them before submitting a BACS file, resulting in a higher submission rate.”

Meanwhile, in Rhondda Cynon Taf, the council is planning to introduce Gladstone’s Business Process Manager (BPM) module – which streamlines administrative processes – and link it to eyeQ, in order to automate email communication with customers who have unpaid debts or dishonoured bookings. “For example, we might run a report identifying customers with failed direct debit payments,” says Hancock. “This would automate an email via BPM to inform the customer that there’s a debt on their record, and to tell them how to contact us to arrange payment.”

Gladstone also offers a data consultancy service to help eyeQ clients delve deeper into their database, with further implications for income management. Shetland Recreational Trust (SRT), which operates eight sites, used the service to streamline its invoicing procedures by creating an interface between its member management software and external accounting package.

Guy Bickerton, head of Gladstone’s data services, worked with SRT to create an extract file to pull out the relevant data, organise it for compatibility and export it to Excel for uploading into the accounting system. According to clerical assistant Norma Johnson, no longer having to enter this data manually saves one full day a month and also ensures much greater accuracy.

While business intelligence solutions are invaluable, says Bickerton, data consultancy fills the gap when expert input is needed. “In short, if it’s stored in your system, we will be able to extract it, and in the format you require,.” he says.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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features

SOFTWARE: Data is the oil of the 21st century. How do you unlock its wealth?

Many operators store a vast amount of data in their systems but never use it. Could they be sitting on a gold mine? Rhianon Howells investigates new developments in data mining that are aimed at unlocking this hidden wealth

Published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 6

It was Peter Sondergaard, head of research at Gartner, who famously claimed that data – or, more specifically, information – is the “oil of the 21st century”.

In the health and fitness industry, as in any other, there’s no doubt that data is an invaluable asset, delivering greater business insights. This in turn enables more tailored offerings, better customer service and more effective retention strategies, which ultimately drives revenue and profit. But, like crude oil, data is worthless until it’s extracted, refined and put to use. Information is oil, Sondergaard said, but “analytics is the combustion engine”.

Most operators already collect data on everything from their customers’ preferences and habits to financial measures such as income and costs – but how can they improve their access to and understanding of this information and, more importantly, use it to benefit their business? We look at some key areas.

Retention
Analysing and responding to attrition and retention data is vital to improving performance in these areas. Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) County Borough Council, which runs 10 leisure sites, uses Gladstone’s business intelligence tool eyeQ to generate reports in this area, then adjusts its procedures accordingly.

“We made changes to our corporate membership renewal process after an eyeQ report identified a high drop-off in corporate membership numbers at the annual renewal point,” says the council’s business manager John Hancock. “Looking into this, we concluded that the renewal process was too long-winded and formal, and we simplified it accordingly.

“The drop-off of corporate membership renewals at our facility has now more than halved, from 25 per cent to 10 per cent, and length of stay has obviously increased as well.”

Taking this kind of action on the back of a report is risky if you’re not 100 per cent sure of its reliability, however – and before eyeQ, the council didn’t have enough confidence to do this. “Our previous system was more complicated and often led to the same data delivering slightly different results, depending on who ran the report,” says Hancock.

In contrast, eyeQ’s Query Builder means that, as long as you have a reasonable understanding of your database, producing specific data extracts is simple, while the ability to export the data to Excel means the reports can be easily understood. The key, says Hancock, is that “even with different report routes, the end results are the same”.

Cost savings
Data mining can also lead to substantial cost savings. Serco Leisure, which manages 70 facilities, has made annual savings of more than £1m by driving down utilities bills using Legend’s proprietary business intelligence solution.

A key feature of Legend’s solution is its targeting and alerting functionality, which allows operators to set targets within specific sets of data. If these targets are not met at any point, managers receive a real-time alert which enables them to take immediate action. “This allows customers to avoid ‘analysis paralysis’, which is a genuine risk when there’s so much data available in modern leisure management systems,” explains Legend MD Sean Maguire.

In the case of Serco Leisure, the operator set reduction targets for its water, gas and electricity consumption based on the previous year’s results – for example, ‘reduce gas consumption by 5 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared with the same month last year’. If a centre fell behind on a target, managers were alerted to intervene, perhaps by implementing actions that had proved beneficial at other centres. The analysis also enabled the company to pinpoint when the performance of a centre was out of kilter with that of its other centres, which helped to identify specific issues such as a leak, an equipment fault or ineffective insulation.

According to Keith Thomas, MD of Serco Leisure, not only have these savings been significant in themselves, but they have also enabled the company to be more environmentally accountable – “something to which Serco Leisure is 100 per cent dedicated”.

Income management
Another area where data mining can make an impact is income management. Life Leisure, which manages 13 facilities in Stockport, has achieved a 19 per cent rise in direct debit income and a halving of direct debit failures using the financial reporting and forecasting feature within Legend’s business intelligence solution, says the operator’s chief executive Malcolm McPhail.

This is largely thanks to more efficient BACS processing. “Much of the success in fees processing is down to ease of use when doing small but important daily administrative tasks, combined with the accuracy of the data,” says Maguire. “If you can easily run status reports that highlight issues, you can remedy them before submitting a BACS file, resulting in a higher submission rate.”

Meanwhile, in Rhondda Cynon Taf, the council is planning to introduce Gladstone’s Business Process Manager (BPM) module – which streamlines administrative processes – and link it to eyeQ, in order to automate email communication with customers who have unpaid debts or dishonoured bookings. “For example, we might run a report identifying customers with failed direct debit payments,” says Hancock. “This would automate an email via BPM to inform the customer that there’s a debt on their record, and to tell them how to contact us to arrange payment.”

Gladstone also offers a data consultancy service to help eyeQ clients delve deeper into their database, with further implications for income management. Shetland Recreational Trust (SRT), which operates eight sites, used the service to streamline its invoicing procedures by creating an interface between its member management software and external accounting package.

Guy Bickerton, head of Gladstone’s data services, worked with SRT to create an extract file to pull out the relevant data, organise it for compatibility and export it to Excel for uploading into the accounting system. According to clerical assistant Norma Johnson, no longer having to enter this data manually saves one full day a month and also ensures much greater accuracy.

While business intelligence solutions are invaluable, says Bickerton, data consultancy fills the gap when expert input is needed. “In short, if it’s stored in your system, we will be able to extract it, and in the format you require,.” he says.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

The team is young and ambitious, and the awareness of technology is very high. We share trends and out-of-the-box ideas almost every day
Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

We ended up raising US$7m in venture capital from incredible investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Primetime Partners, and GingerBread Capital
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
Profile

Sohail Rashid

35 million people a week participate in strength training. We want Brawn to help this audience achieve their goals
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

Going hybrid

Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features