value of the data created on the platform over time and could make it easier for the company to retain their customers. The general theory is that the more data a customer has on the platform the harder it will be for them to churn. Another benefit worth considering is that the closed platform can work to ensure that the software partners they choose build really strong integrations. Instead of offering all the integrations in the world, they can limit their partners to only the best to their customers. To add to that, closed platforms can work towards bundling their software partners into all-in-one licensing packages that are easy for customers to purchase all at once instead of purchasing one software tool at a time. Think of this as purchasing the Microsoft suite, 5-6 tightly integrated tools all at once, vs purchasing Slack, G suite and several others one at a time. As a software purchaser, the ease of purchase and integrated tools can be very appealing. Why Open Platforms Should Also Be Considered As a fitness business owner, open software platforms are also very much worth considering for your fitness business. Software companies will choose an open platform strategy to allow the free market to build as many integrations as possible to fill gaps in their own platform. In an interview with Rick Stollmeyer, the co-founder of Mindbody, last year, he said, “Our feeling was that when we create a fertile field that allows other seeds to germinate it will ultimately make our platform more valuable.” Looking back, Rick believes that their open platform was one of the key differentiators that led to fitness business owners choosing them and their incredible company growth in the fitness software industry. Breaking that down a bit further, because of the openness you, as a software purchaser, will have a lot more software options to choose from meaning you have the freedom to choose the best fit for your specific needs. Having said that, because there could be so many options available it does require some extra time and experimentation to figure out which platform and partners fit your needs. In the long-term, there is an argument to be made that if you are using an open software platform it will be easier to continue to update your software partner integrations if something newer/better is released in the market. The easiest way to define and determine whether you are purchasing or already using a closed or open software platform is to review the software that you use as your source of truth for user accounts. For fitness businesses this is usually the fitness billing and scheduling software (example: Mindbody, Jonas Fitness) or your CRM (example: Salesforce, Hubspot). When advising fitness business owners who are making this decision, my advice is always the same. Discuss as a team what type of company you are now and where you see your business going in 5-10 years. This is a great starting point to help clearly define what your software needs will be in the short-term and the long-term. Once these needs are established, you’ll find that it will become much easier for your team to reach a consensus on the right software platform for you. Best of luck!
Matt McGunagle is the CEO and Co-Founder of StrengthPortal, a software platform designed for gym chains, single location gyms and studio, and personal trainers to scale their training services. StrengthPortal’s mission is to help personal training become a highly-paid profession that you can have for your entire career.
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Personal Fitness Professional Summer 2021