new-member-engagement

‘Tis the Season to Get Fit, Part 2

By | Engage, Engagement, Industry, Membership | No Comments

This is the second in a two-part series on engaging new members from Daxko Engage Implementation Specialist Emily Vonbartheld. Read the first post here.

group-rulesTo help engage new members and help them reach goals you can track their interests or goals. If you have Daxko Engage or another CRM, you can create a group based on new member interests and make contact with those members through an initiative. This can be especially useful when you’re targeting January Joins because in Daxko Engage you can create “Group rules” around join dates.

If you are using a CRM or third-party email client, you can pull a custom membership report from Daxko Operations, sort by interests, and email the members from your current email provider.

When signing a member umember-goalsp, remember to ask the member their goals and mark them in a visible area. This will help staff when they go to regularly follow up on their goal. In Daxko Engage there is a place on the member profile exclusively for their goals.

For example, staff can follow up with Gabriel and refer him to classes and resources based on his goal. Keeping up with these goals shows members that their membership is not transactional. Members want to feel like they are part of a community that truly cares about them and tracking goals is one way to achieve that.

Keep new members from pouring out the back gate by increasing their level of engagement and involvement within your fitness center, club, Y, or J. Help members feel that they are a part of something greater by welcoming them into a community dedicated to helping everyone succeed. It’s easy to view “January Joins” as a monolithic group because it feels like the same routine every year. Intentionally tracking a members’ interests and goals and creating systematic communications to engage them, gives you the opportunity to create meaningful change.

Make sure to establish guidelines within your association, hang reminders around welcome desks, and follow up with staff! Increasing retention means increasing impact in members lives and that’s what it’s all about.

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What Language does your Software Speak?

By | Customer Experience, Engagement, Industry, Membership, Mission Delivery | No Comments

mtenhakenThis is a guest post from Mark Ten Haken, Director of Information Systems for the Greater Green Bay YMCA. In this post, Mark shares his experiences when searching and selecting a new YMCA software provider. 

Guppy, SACC, AOA, MFA, Engagement, Retention, Termination, Renewal….what language is that? I bet if you show that list of terms and acronyms to somebody outside the Y, you get an entirely different set of answers than if you show them to Y staff. Yes, we at the Y speak our own language but does the software we use understand it?

When we started the process of selecting a software vendor, we developed an extensive list of functionality requirements. Can the software handle 2nd child discounts? What about 3rd party billing? Is there social media integration? Can we draft people other than the 1st and 15th of the month? Is there a simple way to print invoices? Will the software handle gift cards to our expectations? Is there a convenient way for people to join online? Can you divide your campaign into teams? Are there reports for this…are there reports for that? ….well, you get the idea. These things (and more) are all important things to consider when selecting a software vendor.

After you have put together your long list of functionality requirements. After you have developed the surveys you will distribute to staff to evaluate vendors. After you have crossed your ‘t’s and dotted your ‘i’s, there may be one final question that you should consider that may be the most important one of all; what software best speaks the Y language? At the surface this may seem insignificant or overly simplified, but after you give it some thought, the answer to the question in invaluable.

For a decade, we struggled with a piece of software that got lost in translation. What we considered a terminated membership meant something different in the software we were using. A renewal wasn’t really a renewal as we think of it. Retention was hard to measure when the system didn’t quite know how to treat a renewal or termination…an upgrade from an adult membership to a family membership? …whew!.. that really skewed the retention measurement. What about member engagement?…that might as well been Martian language to the software we were using because it didn’t understand the concept. How do we expect staff to be effective and efficient when they, and the software they are utilizing to better serve and engage members, speak two different languages?

We shouldn’t need translation between all the terms, concepts and measurements that are involved with the Y model and the software that serves us. We shouldn’t need a translator to accurately measure what the Y considers to be a terminated member, a membership renewal, or a retained member even if the member upgrades from adult to family. We shouldn’t need to compromise customer service because answers are hard to find. We shouldn’t need to bend and mold our way of doing things to fit into the confines of a piece of software that doesn’t speak our language.

We should expect our software to understand social media integration. We should expect our software to accurately measure year over year terminations and new member comparisons. We should expect the software that we use to understand MFA, SACC and AOA. We should expect our software to understand the need to quickly serve and provide answers to members either online or at our front desks. We certainly should expect our software to intimately understand and measure member engagement so we can better serve our members. We should expect our software to speak the Y language. Daxko speaks our language. What language does your software speak?

staff-engagement

How to Hire Right for Engagement

By | Fitness, Industry, Marketing, Membership | No Comments

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.

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Step by Step Guide To Assemble An Engagement Team

By | Engage, Engagement, Facilities, Industry, Leadership, Marketing, Membership, Organizational Health, Tips & Resources, Volunteers | No Comments

Even the best engagement plan fails without the proper backing and follow through. In fact, the number one reason engagement plans aren’t successful is the lack of team commitment to execute  the required initiatives. If you are looking to engage more members and improve member retention, then you’ve probably considered putting a member engagement plan in place. Don’t let your engagement goals languish before they even get started. Here is a step-by-step guide to establish a member engagement team and help rally them around your cause:

Gather your stakeholders: Who are the folks most invested in gaining and keeping members at your organization? Who is in charge of membership, marketing and recruitment of members? Stakeholders need a leadership team member that can champion the cause for member engagement at your organization.  Ideally, stakeholders include representatives from:

  1. Leadership
  2. Marketing
  3. Membership
  4. The frontline
  5. Your volunteer baseyour-engagement-team-deliverable-web copy

Keep in mind your Member Engagement Team may only involve some of these representatives, but they need to be aware that they are responsible for driving member engagement initiatives. Gathering all stakeholders on the front end ensures proper communication later in the process. The Member Engagement Team will be responsible for keeping all the teams they represent in the loop while driving member engagement initiatives forward. Learn more about Engagement Team Roles in this Engagement Team  Fact Sheet.

Take time to establish your goals and objectives. Being specific about your goals helps measure success and stay on track. Are you trying to retain members, gain members, or connect your members to your mission? We all want to achieve these items but it helps to nail down one or two things that will lead to these outcomes and make the most impact with a quick win. By creating one goal and attaching a measurement to it you are creating clarity for your staff by defining priorities.

Establish a baseline and a way to measure progress. Once you have a goal in mind it is important to measure your success. By establishing a benchmark from your current status, you can measure your success incrementally based on when you want to achieve your goals.

For example, the team at the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast had a goal to engage more members by having quality in-person conversations. They decided to focus on increasing in-person conversations as a percentage of total check ins. They established a baseline that their staff was having meaningful conversations with 3% of check ins. They wanted to more than double their quality conversations to 7% of check ins. By creating a clear goal and maintaining a laser-focus on one metric, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast achieved dramatic improvement to 7,000 monthly in-person conversations across their organization!

Once goals are set, everyone at the organization needs to be very clear on when and how they will be measured. Setting attainable goals at the beginning gives a firm foundation for growth and expanded achievement plans. For example, for the first three months an organization will work to reach 5% of all check ins with a quality in-person conversation. Once that is reached, up it to 7%.

Assign Tasks.  Once you meet with the team to discuss overarching goals and define first steps, you must assign tasks. This is where each representative may consider involving other team mates. Break down your one measurable up-front goal into specific steps. If your goal, like the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast, is to have more in-person conversations and to monitor the quality of those conversations, you are going to need to establish the following processes:

  • Create a tool to establish a baseline (this could be as simple as an excel spreadsheet)
  • Train all member-facing staff to track their interactions
  • Set interaction goals per staff member and review the interactions and tally the results
  • Monitor those results

Once you have your tasks, assign them to your team as appropriate.

Rally the team. Get your team invested in the results and be sure to check in regularly to prevent or work through any roadblocks. Member engagement initiatives must be supported and encouraged from the top down. Senior leaders are responsible for setting the tone for the organization and defining goals with achievable expectations. Without that, engagement rarely makes it out of the leadership level. Other ways to rally the team include coaching for staff that are struggling with engagement goals and applauding staff when they meet or exceed goals.

Have you started engagement initiatives at your organization?  How did you assemble your team?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.