It’s been just over a month now since a new company began managing Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics (“HFFA”). The Swim Club Management Group (“SCMG”) based in Huntersville was awarded the HFFA management contract by the town board this summer after the prior management group had managed the facility since 2002. I wanted to see how the transition was going so I reached out to SCMG CEO Brian Sheehan to get his thoughts.
– What are some of the immediate changes SCM has implemented at HFFA over the past month?
We have made a number of changes, many of which members will begin to fully enjoy over the next 30-60 days. For example, we immediately closed down the outdated Café and signed an agreement with Summit Coffee to have them renovate and operate the Café and kitchen. We see an opportunity with this arrangement to increase our member service by offering a more diverse, healthy menu to our members. The arrangement should also be a boast to overall profitability. We have also signed agreements to purchase new fitness equipment. Members will soon see new equipment and repurposed spaces that will allow for bootcamp style classes and other specialized group exercise classes.
We are also working with an outside firm to perform a membership survey at no additional cost to members or the taxpayers. We will receive their presentation on the results later this week and we expect to implement additional changes based on membership feedback.
– How have HFFA members reacted to some of these immediate changes?
The response has been terrific. Some of the changes have been small. For example, we added complimentary fruit infused water at the entrance, dedicated a room to cycle/spin classes and created a classroom more conducive for the yoga classes. These changes cost very little but have made for a much better member experience.
– Do you have any social media or marketing plans to attract new members to HFFA?
Yes, we identified this as an opportunity for improvement early on. We have enhanced our presence on social media and plan to do a better job of engaging our members through social media moving forward. In addition, we signed an agreement recently to have the HFFA website redesigned. The current website is outdated and unengaging. I believe the last time they updated the Current Events Section was 2015. Our members can expect a more functional and dynamic website within a few weeks.
– What are some of the short-term goals SCMG is focusing on at HFFA?
Our immediate focus has been on improving the members experience. We believe the best way to attract new members is to offer our current members a great experience. We have also put a heavy emphasis over the past 30 days on cleaning up a few risk management issues. Part of having a positive member experience is keeping our members and their children safe. This is a responsibility we take very serious and we are moving quickly to make certain all areas of the facility are operating at industry best-practice.
– How do you see HFFA benefiting from or complementing the town’s new rec center still under construction across the street on Verhoeff?
We have quickly established a great working relationship with Parks & Recreation and we are excited to create synergies with their new space. They have offered all HFFA members free access to the facility which provides a great value proposition for our members.
– Can you briefly explain how HFFA is funded – including how taxpayers contribute.
HFFA is funded, in part, by Tourism (Hotel/Motel) Taxes, along with other revenue sources like membership fees. Our goal is to reduce the reliance on taxpayer funds at HFFA.
Within our first week we identified that there were numerous members with past due balances. In fact, the total dollar amount was in excess of $12,000. Our team worked diligently on this matter and within our first 30 days we have collected over $10,000 in past due fees. In most cases the issue was simply a member that had obtained a new credit card and forgot to update us. Making all those phone calls was certainly not the most fun job in the building during the first 30 days, but it was necessary to properly operate the business. We understand the fiduciary responsibility we have to the taxpayers to be good stewards of their money and the people of Huntersville can expect us to operate accordingly.
– What message do you have for those who were opposed to the decision to make a change in management at HFFA?
Whether you advocated for a change in management or opposed a change in management, we welcome you as a member at HFFA. I have lived here most of my life and I know the people of Huntersville are fair and open-minded. I hope everyone will take the time to stop into the facility over the next 60 days and see the positive changes we’re making.