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Build or Partner: Your Technology Ecosystem

When it comes to your digital strategy it’s important to consider a couple of key questions including resources and capabilities. One of the key considerations is whether to build or partner with an industry leader.

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The speed of digital transformation has accelerated

Over the course of the past years, but especially since COVID-19, digitization has become increasingly important for many fitness or health facilities. You want to offer maximum benefit to your clients, whether they're able to come into the facility in person or prefer to connect with you digitally. An own app can enhance your users' overall customer experience and make them more satisfied with what you have to offer – no matter the circumstances. One of the key questions that you have to answer when deciding how to approach your facility’s app: Do you want to try to build an app on your own, or do you want to partner with an industry leader that will offer a high-quality, well-regarded experience for your members? 

That decision may vary depending on your specific goals. There are, however, several elements you should consider thoroughly before making your decision.

Do you want to be a technology company or a fitness provider?

What is it that you're committed to, as a company? Are you more interested in providing fitness advice and opportunities for your members, or do you want to get into the technology side of things yourself?

Any time you choose to go a new direction with your business, especially if it pertains to technology, it’s important to consider that it shifts your focus and resources from other endeavors. While you could develop and provide great technology for your users, it may come at the cost of your core fitness offering. Ultimately, that may mean – when diverting focus away from the core element of your offering – that your clients don't get the same great experience that they were hoping for when they connected with your facilities.

Working with the right partner for your own app can help you save time, energy, and resources. Instead of focusing on developing and maintaining your app, you can focus on your core competencies and have those amplified with an app: providing great fitness advice, helping people achieve their individual fitness and health goals, or offering nutrition advice that can help members achieve their goals. Chances are, as an operator, you're focused on fitness – and not only is that what you excel at, it's also likely what your staff excels at, and let’s be frank: It’s also what you and your staff enjoy most doing.

Do you have the right resources to invest in creating your own app?

Creating an app takes several scarce resources. It requires:

Time

To create a robust app, you'll need time. Not only will you need to put together the pieces of what your members want and how you can deliver it to them. You'll need time to test the effectiveness of your app and you’ll need to test each change that you will likely want to make over time. You may also need time to research, develop, and ultimately create the app, as well as maintain it year after year. Developing an app is by no means not a one-time endeavor: The continuous improvements of technology require substantial time and effort just to maintain an app, let alone adjust it as technology changes.

Money

As an operator of a fitness or health facility, you already know that if you want to expand what you have to offer, it takes money. Creating an app is no different. It can end up costing a great deal of money to develop your app, especially when you start from scratch. You'll also need skilled developers to take care of the programming – especially skilled ones are highly sought after and could end up increasing your payroll substantially.

People

Your existing staff members already have plenty of tasks on their plate. You have trainers and teachers who work directly with members. Headquarter staff members who help keep everything running smoothly, from your machines to your members' needs. Creating an app from scratch will require additional people--and in many cases, it will take time away from the people who are already focused on other tasks.

Energy and Focus

You only have so much energy to go around--and chances are, it's already focused on keeping your facilities running smoothly. Creating an app from scratch will require significant energy, attention, and focus on your part, which means you won't have that energy to invest in other areas.

If you want to develop your own app, you'll need to commit those resources upfront--and in many cases, you'll need to commit additional ones, especially if something goes wrong. When you work with the right partner, on the other hand, they already have those resources and experience. All you have to do is take advantage of them.

The Value of Identifying the Right Partner

A great technology partner can work with you to create short-term and long-term solutions that will help you achieve many of the same goals as creating your app. Do you know what a full-stack tech team looks like or how to build one? Do you want to be in the integrations warehouse, or would you rather turn those tasks over to your partner? Carefully considering what you really want to accomplish can help you make a better decision that fully reflects your goals.

Time to Market

Buying an existing app and working directly with a partner is faster than trying to build it on your own. Recreating a lot of standard operational functionality, such as a class schedule will take substantial time if you start from scratch. That means that if you're interested in making this option available to your members as soon as possible, you need to work with an experienced partner who can help you turn it around quickly. A good partner will enable you to leverage key functionality, but then innovate and differentiate on top of their platform, enabling you to focus on where your organization excels (versus investing months only to recreate standard functionality).

Costs

When you build your own app, the costs are rarely predictable. Not only is it difficult to put a set price on a one-time fee to create the app, but you may also have recurring costs to maintain and update your app. In many cases, even an experienced developer cannot fully predict them ahead of time. Working with a partner, on the other hand, usually means a fixed cost. Not only that, it's usually predictable and manageable. You can moderate your cost by deciding ahead of time what features and support you want and how they fit within your budget.

Knowledge and Expertise

Your team's core competency likely is around running fitness and health facilities. While you can certainly bring that experience to the data on your app, you may struggle with the tasks associated with actually building it. A technology partner, on the other hand, has full knowledge and expertise in the technical industry, which they will then bring to building your app. Not only does that mean it's likely to run more smoothly, but it may also mean a more efficient, user-friendly app.

Are you interested in offering an app to your members? Not sure where to start? Contact us today to learn more about how we can partner with you to accomplish those goals. 

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