#NIRSA2017 Recap

By | Events & Happenings, Fitness, Industry, Trends Reports & Surveys | No Comments

NIRSA is the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association. The NIRSA annual conference was held in Washington DC this year. I had the opportunity to participate in the conference and wanted to share some of what I learned.

After several days of sessions and talking to customers, my top 3 takeaways are below:

  1. Our gray polo shirts fit in! I’ve never seen so many collegiate polo shirts and khaki pants all in one place
  2. If you attend NIRSA be ready to have old college memories come to mind
  3. If the conference is in Washington DC, be prepared for the taxi driver to ask you your party affiliation as an ice breaker

These takeaways are all true of course, but here are some overall themes that will help me in my role as Product Manager for SpectrumNG.

Campus Recreation Staff
Like many organizations, there is a staff structure that we need to understand so we can serve and market our products accordingly. There are three main levels of staff we work with at Campus Recreation Centers:

  • Students – Students can hold all sorts of positions at a campus recreation center including welcome desk, fitness staff, fitness attendants, and more. Rec centers, as a general rule, employ the majority of students on campus
  • Graduate Assistants – If a person is dedicated to a future in the recreation industry, they must have a master’s degree and they must complete a graduate assistantship that is equivalent to an apprenticeship. The grad assistantship is one step to a future career in recreation
  • Pro staff – These are the professional staff at the rec center that have a dedicated career. Typical roles includes Marketing, Camp, Fitness, Director, and others

Student Staff
Think back to the different levels of staff for a minute. Since a large majority of the staff at a rec center are students guess what is very normal! Staff turnover – by default every staff person will turn over in 2 – 4 years. We can help our Campus Recreation customers by providing training materials that can be used over and over again by the rec center as they train new staff. We also put a focus on ease of use for our student staff that may be new to this type of software.

Inclusion
Inclusion is a hot topic in the health and wellness industry as a whole and it’s even more important to campus recreation centers. At NIRSA there was a focus on welcoming LGBTQ and creating gender neutral spaces such as restrooms and locker rooms. For members with disabilities, recreation center are adding multiple options such as wider benches for weight lifting to allow for easier transfer from chair to bench, dedicated dog hooks/areas for service dogs, and more. Finally, campus recreation centers are moving away from the term “freshman” to the term “first-year” since not all students/staff relate to the term “man.”

Engagement
They are all about engaging staff, students, alumni, etc. One welcome desk process was to welcome the member at 10 ft. and 5 ft. If they are 10 ft. away from you just walking in the door you wave or nod to acknowledge them. Then when they are close enough to see their face you actually speak to them and engage them in a conversation.

Retention
Recreation centers are looking towards improving retention numbers more and more. If campus recreation centers can keep their student members as engaged as possible during their time in the rec center, they may convert to an alumni membership or alumni donor later in their life.

Increased Competition
Just like many other clubs the onslaught of boutique gyms has changed their business. Over the past several years campus rec centers have altered their programming to compete with these gyms or altered their membership plans to generate new revenue streams. While many campus rec centers may compete with local YMCAs they have also created partnerships with them. For example, allowing the Y to operate an after school site or day camp within the rec center.

I’ve enjoyed sharing my experience from NIRSA! NIRSA was filled with many great conversations with customers, future customers, partners and potential partners. Were you there? Feel free to comment below.

How to Hire Right for Engagement

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The most sustainable nonprofits have talented teams. Have you considered that your staff must be engaged before they can effectively engage members? Staff engagement starts during the hiring process. Associations with successful engagement programs say it has changed the way they hire. Even when you have all the right people in place, it is important to continuously engage your staff just as you would your members to get the best outcomes. Here are some staff engagement ideas featured in Entrepreneur from Dwight Merriman (founder of several successful startups):

  1. Ensure that those you hire understand your mission at the outset — those that understand the mission will be a better fit for the long haul
  2. Foster collaboration between staff — open huddles and team meetings encourage collaboration and engagement
  3. Educate staff regularly – when people feel they are growing and learning they stay connected
  4. Be transparent to build trust – communicating the good, the bad, and the ugly encourages open communication and engagement

Staff engagement stays top of mind at the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. It’s a big part of the overall engagement strategy. Kathy Cannon heads up their engagement efforts and she fosters engagement with her team by facilitating a staff huddle twice a day to talk about training topics and highlight engagement achievements at the branch. The team also devotes 10 minutes to “Connections” (discussing connections with members) at their bi-weekly staff meetings and they regularly involve branches that are seeing the most success in team trainings to spread good habits across the association. The team there has a laser focus on quality interactions. Thanks to a strategic engagement plan and consistent tracking, the team doubled interactions logged from 3% of all check-ins to nearly 6% of all check-ins (that represents an increase of nearly 3,000  interactions per month!)

This is an excerpt from our recent Engagement Insights Report. You can view or download the full report on the Insights Report page.

Video: Adapt to Change

By | Engage, Engagement, Fitness, Industry, Leadership, Membership, Mission Delivery, Videos | No Comments

“To change lives, you have to adapt to change.”

That’s the premise of a new video from Daxko, out last week. Daxko is the largest provider of mission-critical software for YMCAs, JCCs, and other member-based health and wellness centers. The video talks about the changing health of communities, the changing ways community members connect, and how health and wellness organizations can stay ahead of the trend with processes and software dedicated to staying with current trends. Watch the video here:

“Community health is changing. Obesity and type 2 diabetes are on the rise. Daxko helps you promote healthy living to reverse this trend.

Demographics are changing. From millennials to boomers, Daxko helps you connect with members through social media, targeted email, and text notifications.

Technology is changing. It can be challenging to keep pace. Only Daxko provides the integrated software, predictive analytics, and expertise that allow you to stay ahead of the curve.

With Daxko it has never been a better time to join forces with the largest peer network of community wellness centers, Ys, and JCCs.”

48% of January Joins Haven’t Checked-In for Two Weeks

By | Engage, Engagement, Facilities, Fitness, Industry, Marketing, Membership, Organizational Health | 2 Comments

Recently, we posted 8 quick wins to get ahead of cancellations. Providing quick and actionable tips may help keep members active at your center now but to ensure they are with you for the long term, more strategic changes are needed.

Data shows that on average, 48% of January joins have not checked-in over the last two weeks.*
While many new members mistakenly think that more bells and whistles (A coffee bar! Fitness tracker integration!) will keep them committed, the biggest predictor of success is social connectedness. Encouraging members to connect with others will significantly increase the success of their engagement. Those connections can be a personal trainer, group exercise class, a gym buddy, or even having a person at the front desk that greets the member each day [Read more.].

Here are 4 strategic mindset changes to make with your staff to encourage new joins to stick with it throughout the year:

  • Make Introductions: Whether you and your staff are working the front desk, or walking the floor – make a habit of introducing members to others with similar goals to spark engagement, accountability, and increase friendships.
  • Seek Out Introverts: Do you always see a certain member using the treadmill alone, earphones in place, with little interaction with others? Make an extra effort to reach out to those members and compliment them for sticking with it!
  • Make Your Center Less Scary: Reach out to members that look like they need extra help and make it a habit to introduce a new member to another machine or activity they might like. If they are always on the elliptical, maybe they’d enjoy spin class? Have a new member that is taking up running? Encourage them to work on their stamina with a low impact elliptical. By introducing new machines/activities into their routine you’ll help members feel more empowered to try new things, you’ll keep them interested and, encourage cross-training.
  • Offer Rewards: Encourage members to treat themselves after they work so hard. Look for non-food items to give-out that congratulates members for staying the course!

 

*Statistic based on Daxko Operations customer data