It’s about that time to give an update on what we’re working on at the gym.
If you haven’t seen these emails before, I’m a huge fan of John Doerr’s “Objectives and Key Results” framework that he discusses in the book “Measure What Matters.”
Since rolling this framework out about a year ago, we’ve seen massive improvement in our ability to communicate what our actual, most important goals are and to prioritize what we’re working on in an endless sea of distractions.
With any small business, there are endless tactics to try, endless slightly broken things that need to be fixed, endless unclear processes, endless employee mistakes that need to rectified, endless minor issues with the website, etc.
So, by developing clear objectives, we are able to work on the things that we think are the most important – rather than just bouncing from random thing to random thing and making no overall progress.
So, here’s an update on what we worked on last quarter.
Improve Show Up Rate for Consults
As we’ve increased our reputation in Chicago, improved our website, and increased our ranking in search engines – oh, and can’t forget all the new housing that’s going up in the South Loop – we’ve been getting more and more people reaching out and booking consultations.
While this is a good thing for the business as a whole, we’ve certainly increased the number of “marginal clients” coming in. [By “marginal clients,” I mean people who have not already essentially pre-determined that they are going to start training at SLSC. They are in a more “ambivalent” headspace, but – through the factors mentioned above – they are pushed to come in and check the place out.]
That means that – rather than most of the people coming in being highly motivated folks who have already decided that they’re committed to doing a difficult exercise program, we now have a lot more people booking consults who aren’t totally clear on what we do.
Based upon this, we need to make sure that we are engaging with folks before they even come in for their consultation to get a feel for what they’re looking for. And, also make it clear that they’ve booked time with an actual human being if they decide to no show.
We had the highest show up rate for consults in September that we’ve ever had (85%). It dropped back down to 70% for October.
I’m not sure if September’s improvement was a statistical blip, or if we actually made a difference through following up with folks right when consults are booked. We will have to see a few more months of data to find out.
In the future, we will need to add some sort of QA/QC process to make sure that the protocol is being consistently followed for communication surrounding consultations, since I’ve learned that it’s challenging (but doable) to implement new protocols. However, if they are not consistently reinforced, adherence drops off after a few months.
Improve Scheduling Process
We had a few months over the summer that were really rough in terms of getting folks scheduled for consultations and Elements sessions – as well as getting classes covered.
We had some ideas for incentive systems and such to improve this, but the reality is that we were just understaffed. With Jacob moving back to Chicago, we are now in a much better position.
We also increased the rate for Elements and passed that increase pretty much straight through to coaches’ pay.
As our coaches have taken on more personal training sessions, we are able to provide much more income-earning opportunity to coaches. However, this means that their schedules are filled – and taking on too many Elements sessions is a huge opportunity cost for them in terms of working with more lucrative personal training clients.
Based upon this, we now pay coaches pretty close to what they would make for a personal training session for Elements sessions.
We also have conversion incentives for coaches, so they are rewarded financially when members make it through the onboarding process. So, coaches now have a more tangible stake in making sure that people are getting scheduled for all of their sessions.
Increase Traffic to Consult Page on Website
We don’t have great data on this since there were some issues with the way that our website analytics were set up.
However, improving the search engine optimization for our site as well as the overall user experience throughout was a top priority.
We worked with an SEO consultant who recommended a variety of technical changes that made our site much more “indexable” by Google. And, there were a few pretty strange issues with some pages on the site – which tends to happen when you have a site that’s been built on top of itself for probably 5-6 years at this point.
Simply by fixing some of those weird page structure issues, we hope to see increases in our organic search rankings.
I also changed up a bunch of the content on some of the most high traffic pages to make it easier for people to easily navigate between them.
SEO tends to be a bit of a long game, so we will see if those changes result in improved traffic over the next few months.
Build Out Complete Dashboard Structure
I’ve been hacking together our software systems and working on creating actually usable visualizations from our data for just about a year now.
We actually have a pretty reasonable system now where just about everything that we have dumps into Airtable, then we use Tableau to visualize the information that exists in Airtable.
Every stage of building these processes, results in all kinds of new errors and issues resulting in messy or incomplete data. At this point, most of the backlogs I have of minor issues with data connections are fixed.
We have a variety of dashboards on new members, attendance tracking, drop-ins, membership holds and drops, etc. that we like to keep tabs on.
While these dashboards are very useful to keep a pulse on the business and also communicate our top priorities throughout the organization, the process here is still clunky.
We need to finalize the ability of the dashboards to automatically refresh their data, since the process of manually pulling the data and republishing is quite cumbersome and unsustainable. There’s also confusing errors that pop up with the embedded dashboards when we do this.
Really looking forward to having this one closer to finalized, since this is one of those “important but not urgent” things that I’ve struggled to allocate enough consistent energy toward – especially since I will often make some progress, then have to wait for a week or a month to make sure that the updates are actually resulting in the changes that I want.
Rebuild Follow-up Structure & Nurture Sequences
We have a variety of processes and systems for following up with people as they’re getting started at the gym.
Just like the website, a bunch of these things are built on top of each other, and they’ve gotten pretty messy.
We went through and cleaned up a bunch of the automations in terms of email sequences, tracking, etc. so that we have a much clearer picture of what’s happening with all of our different systems.
We also rewrote and rebuilt several of these sequences.
This is the objective that I think we made the least progress on. While this is no longer a confusing, tangled mess, we didn’t do much to really improve this.