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Founding partner of Retentions Solutions, Jon Nasta has consulted, advised and addressed more than 200 clubs worldwide and is regarded as one of the leading authorities on member retention.  His Retain™ model, which is used by health clubs, gyms, studios and fitness centres worldwide, focuses on automating the things operators would like to do for members but don’t always have time for. 

The Side Hussle picked Jon’s brains on innovation strategies and how to identify and excel in your chosen channels.

“I count myself extremely lucky to have been involved with some of the fastest-growing brands in our sector, both as a supplier and operator. My role has always centred on Customer Experience (CX), strategy and innovation. One thing that the COVID-19 pandemic should have inspired in us all is a thirst for innovation and a desire to identify better solutions for growing our businesses.

These are my rules for innovation.

1. Innovation comes from the bottom up
The opposite of a good idea is not always a bad idea. If you’re not creating an environment where it’s OK to be wrong, you may lose your best ideas (and people) for fear of making mistakes. As Jeff Bezos says: “If the size of your failures isn’t growing, you’re not going to be inventing at a size that can actually move the needle.”

2. Strategy and culture come from the top down
The best leaders I have worked besides, for and with weren’t the ones who thought ‘leading’ meant being in the office before everyone else and being the last to leave. They were the ones keen to know what they could do for their teams, the ones who always gave their teams freedom to grow, and delivered it based on a strong clear brand promise.

Let’s be clear about a brand promise, it’s not just what you do and for whom you do it; it’s also what separates you from the others. It is the ‘why’ that gets a team inspired. Do you have a clear brand promise that inspires customers and staff alike, and separates your brand from the crowd?

3. Customers are your best innovators
I’m more obsessed with customer feedback than most because I won’t make strategic decisions without it. Only when the customer is involved in building the product they use can you begin to get into the realms of unconditional loyalty. That’s worth a huge amount of marketing dollar.

4. A business doesn’t have a culture – it IS a culture
Your culture decides the level/consistency of CX that will be delivered: a set of shared values, goals, attitudes and practices. It’s the way people feel about their work, your work and what it says to others about them and you.

If your values and culture are not reflected in your CX, then today’s consumer will not put up with you. Today honesty and transparency are paramount.

What channels do we need? Are we going hybrid? Are we posting on Insta or TikTok?

I’ve been involved in more than my fair share of ‘which channel?’ discussions, so feel well placed to share insight on this often tedious process.

If you truly work with the four rules for innovation, you’ll be aware that the only channel for success is the monochannel, and that’s the customer!

Once you and your colleagues are clear on your brand promise and standards, you’ll know it’s not possible to have different silos of your product, without then creating different Customer Experiences for each silo.

So if your online CX doesn’t reflect your in-club CX, then you have two different businesses that do nothing to help each other’s CX. You need to be delivering the same brand promise, standards and values whenever and wherever you have a touch point with your members.

Our industry operates upon the foundations of delivering high value monochannel experiences. That foundation, unlike many other industries, is centred in membership and data. If the data from each touchpoint isn’t improving future touchpoints across the business, then you’ll not be operating in a monochannel business.

If your membership model is not delivering personalised experiences and positive emotions throughout your CX, then you need to look at your data again. We have a fantastic base from which to deliver new visions of what our industry can be, by way of CX and innovation.

Trying to be everywhere and everything for everybody is not a good idea. Use your data to establish who loves what you do and how you make them feel, regardless of whether they are taking an online class, running on your treadmills or doing the latest Les Mills class. By following these rules, the work you’re doing today will ensure you’ll be winning tomorrow.”


Jon Nasta, Retention Solutions