Category: Consulting

Take Charge with Choose to Lose

Start planning now for a Spring 2015 promotion to build leads, sales and ancillary revenues. Last week at Club Industry in Chicago, I had the opportunity to present some thoughts on how healthclubs and wellness facilities could expand their referral network in the healthcare community. We have had success with developing self-referrals through a community-wide event, Choose to Lose. Here are some steps to get started.

First, identify the following:

  1. Project Goals
  2. Planning Phases
  3. Team/Resources
  4. Analysis & Results

I. Set Project Goals for Weight-loss Program (8 or 10 weeks)

Losing even 10 pounds can impact a variety of chronic disease conditions.

  • Participant objective, enroll 500
  • Sales objective, 125 new members, plus 8-week guest pass sales of 250
  • Community involvement of fire/police teams or other civic group. Your center/club will help them meet their objectives.
  • Program objective is to build awareness of your center’s leadership role in the community as a resource for health & wellness
  • Participant completion objective of 30%
  • Public relations objective is to receive press coverage of civic team and the medical fitness
  • Establish marketing/communication budget & tactics that integrate with your Facility’s role as a Thought Leader

 II. Project Phases

  1. Planning (Several key components below)
  2. Sponsorship & Partnership Outreach
  3. Development of 8-week self-guided program, supplemented by educational sessions with our experts (tie-in local physicians)
  4. Police & fire program, identify fitness leaders to coach groups to reach goals
  5. Communications plan, internal & external
  6. Weigh in & Weight outs, data analysis
  7. Results & PR

III. Team/Resources

  1. Your Staff
  2. Local Healthcare organizations for Screenings or Referrals
  3. Screen Team & Screening tools
  4. Potential local business partners for sponsorships

IV. Final Analysis & Results

  1. Press release with results to all local media
  2. Article/blog for digital media
  3. Video testimonials of participants with results
  4. Analysis of program, did it meet goals, why or why not?

PLANNING – Thought Leadership

  1. Develop Theme/Concept for Promotional Campaign
  2. Identify key groups for building awareness
  3. Create content for press/your center’s blog
  4. Solicit other media sponsors
  5. Create messages for front-line staff

PLANNING — Program Content

  1. Reference organizations, resources for weight-loss, walking
  2. Determine staff needs for weekly weigh-ins, education
  3. Determine method for follow-up, emails, e-news
  4. Organize fun event to incent people to complete 8 weeks
  5. Tie-in sales promotion to successful completion or special offer during program
  6. Assign staff for phone call follow-up on regular basis
  7. Track usage of guest passes

FACILITY PLANNING — Sign up Week & Weekly Weigh-ins

  1. Develop process for weigh-ins, other screenings & data collection
  2. Develop registration form, HIPAA compliance, waiver for data, etc.
  3. Testimonials from participants, release for images/story
  4. Handouts/guidelines for participants on key health benefits
  5. Speaker schedule for educational sessions at key intervals
  6. Determine if data will be logged in system/website, establish criteria

Fine tune your fitness programs for ACO networks

The first quarter of 2014 is nearly over (and hopefully that is true of our winter!), so it’s a great time to assess if your strategies are on track to make your fitness or wellness business better this year. Fine-tuning your programs and communications tactics can better position your club as a part of the new healthcare delivery model. Although it is unclear how physicians and hospitals receiving bundled payments may pay for prevention and wellness services, it is clear that they will need to focus more attention on an individual’s complete health. Let’s start with who is actually in your club and how you can leverage these relationships strategically.

1. Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen
Malcolm Gladwell shares case studies on “How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” in his 2000 book, The Tipping Point. We assigned this book to a group of fitness center managers, and asked them to formulate their own tipping points related to primary goals for their center’s business.

We especially wanted to increase awareness of chronic disease issues in the community, as we had purchased a series of ACSM exercise protocols that we believed create a key competitive advantage. But first we needed the team’s help in identifying connectors, mavens and salesmen among the membership to help spread our message–to create our own tipping point. Having your staff formulate a plan to identify such customers for key message delivery is an effective group exercise that can energize your current plan or be part of your planning process next year.

Our primary goal was to identify the Mavens, whom Gladwell describes as the “information specialists, or people we rely upon to connect us with new information.” These prime referrers want to solve other people’s problems. While probably not motivated by actual referral rewards, this group still needs nurturing. Our goal was to identify this type from members who had responded to a Loyalty Survey or who had been recognized in Leader Circle groups (based on weekly attendance). Ultimately, we wanted to discover and promote their personal improvement stories, and to develop talking points and incentives to spur them on to more referrals.

The other key groups in the Tipping Point concept are connectors and salesmen. Connectors typically make introductions in social circles because they have so many contacts in their network. Perhaps this valuable group is already active on your Facebook page. As you already know, salespeople are persuasive and charismatic, and you have them on staff.

You need all three groups working in concert to position your club for health care. But you also need “the stickiness factor,” as coined by Gladwell. That factor is the message. We’ll describe more on key consumer segments and specific messages in a later article.

2. Strategic Visioning
Change is rapidly occurring in the $2.7 trillion health care industry–especially in delivery. How will you be part of that change? When did you last take time to dream about your business, to dream with your key managers? Ask your core team members to explore their high point in working for your club, a time when they were operating at peak performance. Have them tell the story and describe the most important and helpful factors in the organization and the results. What can you learn from each other’s experience in how change occurs? Capture these details as you prepare for other changes that will be occurring in our industry. Start by asking what was it about the organization or team members that made a positive experience possible? What were the best qualities, skills or values that made it a high point? Write them down.

3. Asking Better Questions
Are you asking the right questions of your employees, your customers and yourself? The answers we get are often determined by the questions we ask. If we ask irrelevant questions, we get irrelevant answers. If we ask better questions—empowering questions—we get empowering answers. Marilee Adams, an executive coach, has developed a system of tools called Question Thinking that she outlines in her book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. In a future article we will use these tools to dive into new member orientations and health and fitness assessments. Get started with your team with these questions: What could or should our competitive strategic advantage be? What do we have the ability to create right now? In mid-term? In the long-term?

4. Living the Vision
How has your business vision changed? In an annual all-staff meeting years ago, we used the FISH! Philosophy video, which describes how Pike’s Place Fish Market in Seattle became world-famous. I still relate to its simple idea of coming together as a team to live the vision. Successful teams are guided by three principles:

Be it: make the vision part of everything you do
Commit: make a commitment to bringing the vision into your place of work
Coach it: teach others about the importance of the vision, and have fun in doing it

Are you modeling a culture of wellness and fitness among your employees? If not, how do they feel about delivering health and wellness to your customers, other clients and possibly mavens in your community? An upcoming article will explore corporate wellness programs and their role in the new healthcare landscape.

5. Leaders Lead
Leaders focus on people and ask what and why. They develop and innovate. Are you ready to lead this next innovation? It’s going to require a longer-term perspective and resources to create change in your club and its position within the community. We’ll give you tips on how to get there.

Watch for our series for the Club Insider and excerpted here, Fitness Futures and Healthcare Delivery. We’ll cover:

Developing Healthcare Referrals: Sedentary, deconditioned and overweight. You can reach this market more effectively with lifestyle programs that can expand your ancillary revenues. But first you need to use the right message to get referrals from healthcare professionals in your market.

Your Club, Your Community: The healthcare environment is changing, and your role as a top fitness provider is a community asset. Have you identified community initiatives that can help you showcase your facility to residents and the health care community?

Going Corporate: Are you modeling a culture of wellness among your own employees? One of the best ways to develop a corporate wellness program is to practice what you preach.

Sticky Messages for Segments: Understanding who your customers are is one of the ways you’ve been successful in your business. Do you know what other customers you can reach in your market area? We do. With our Prizm analysis model for medical fitness center consumers, we’ve identified 10 top segments you can reach with lifestyle programs and targeted communications.

Measure and Evaluate. Assessing your programs is yet another way to communicate your results to your customers and potential customers. Plus, it makes smart business sense for those healthcare constituents you want to entice.

Use these ideas to start brainstorming on changes occurring in our industry. We welcome your thoughts and feedback. Sign up on our web site to get a list of analytical questions to help maximize your strategic competitive advantage.

Ten Good Reasons Why Your Community needs a MedFit Wellness Center

1. Provide a channel to an enormous market of health-seeking Baby Boomers.
• By 2005, 1 out of 2 American adults will be over the age of 55.
• Four out of 10 in that group are willing to pay out-of-pocket to maintain their health and physical vibrancy.

2. Expand the visibility, scope and outreach of outpatient programs and affiliated physicians.
• Medical fitness center members represent a huge market of potential users of additional health-related services.
• Locating outpatient programs and physicians on-site provides natural and easy access to these services as required.

3. Provide a new source of operating income.
• Well-managed medical fitness centers consistently generate 15% or more of new net operating income for the general operating fund of the hospital.
• Typically, the money is used to further expand preventive initiatives in the community.

4. Utilize philanthropic donations to create a unique community asset.
• Although a medical fitness center consists of bricks and mortar, it is energetically human in scope and services.
• It offers a satisfying philanthropic opportunity to people interested in vigorous initiatives in community health.

5. Provide a mechanism to enter the integrative medicine marketplace.
• A medical fitness center provides an extension of the wellness continuum and can reflect or extend your institution’s philosophy.
• The center offers a natural, comfortable environment for introducing the professional services of integrative medicine practitioners and also can easily encompass licensed MD medical techniques.

6. Provide a more compassionate reality to your wellness mission.
• Typically, hospitals focus on wellness programming to improve community health, but frequently lack a centralized facility in which to provide these services.
• A fitness center offers a bright, inviting, health-focused environment in which to pursue wellness-related activities.

7. Financially underwrite satellite ambulatory care campus real estate.
• Virtually all healthcare providers struggle with how to operate effective outreach programs to expand and solidify their base.
• Fitness centers produce income to support the development of other synergistic real estate projects, such as senior housing and physician offices.

8. Definitively differentiate your organization from the competition.
• Only 500-600 local hospitals and healthcare systems across the country offer the advantage of medical fitness centers.
• Developing and building a center speaks volumes about your commitment to improving community health.

9. Expand social entrepreneurship role into other community health ventures.
• A successful fitness center project strengthens and enhances entrepreneurial interest and skills at the sponsoring institution.
• An enthusiastic entrepreneurial attitude plays an extremely valuable role in terms of future business growth, even in healthcare.

10. Create healthier patients for the future.
• Medical fitness centers help keep people healthier as they age.
• When these people eventually utilize healthcare services, they generally will require shorter hospital stays and have better outcomes, improving hospital cost-effectiveness.

Selecting a Medical Fitness or Wellness Facility Feasibility Consultant

With the medical fitness industry approaching its 40th anniversary and a reported 1,100 facilities (there are more than 12,000+ commercial clubs), it’s important to understand the role of consultants in project development, operations and marketing. The primary benefits often associated with hiring a consultant are objectivity, experience and effectiveness in understanding and translating client needs into workable solutions that can achieve results. Consultants also should have a record of saying “This might not work.” The consultant’s track record in correctly analyzing key market factors and then translating that information into facility demand estimates is critical in determining optimum solutions.

Besides the consultant’s proprietary analytical approach and ability to work with a client, other important selection criteria are the diversity of the team, communications and training skills, references and what I simply call, fit. Fit relates to the personality and style of the team and its initial client interactions. A great consulting engagement is when the client values the team and its work as an extension of his or her own office.

What other attributes should the consultant bring? Confidentiality and guaranteed client satisfaction are two big ones as well as having controllable conflicting interests. This is much harder today across all industries as businesses have grown and diversified or gone out of business. With many consultants coming from the management, architectural and construction industries, it some times becomes difficult to control conflicts without full disclosure and strong client involvement during the engagement process. Real world solutions and a transparent process are keys to bridging some of these controllable conflicts.

Your responsibility as a client is to do your homework before engaging the consultant. Define the scope of the engagement and the desired outcomes. Contact clients who implemented suggestions and find out the success and failures so that you know what to avoid and determine the ability of the consultant to stay within budget and to deliver the project on time. Ultimately it’s your responsibility to manage the consultant engagement so that the work product meets the scope of services outlined at the beginning of the contract.

Just because you’ve hired a consultant does not mean you can distance yourself from the project. Stay involved with the consultant or assign a point person from your staff so that the final results are customized to your needs, and not a retread of the consultant’s past work.