Co-Founder Insights: It’s Time to Simplify Studio Tech

The Situation: Too Much Tech

How many software platforms do you rely on to run your fitness business? Throughout the years in this industry, I’ve had many studio owners look at me with a question mark because they literally do not know. And because there are so many. So, let’s start counting: There’s your main studio management software, payroll, email and text automation tools, accounting, video-on-demand hosting, livestream platform, waiver programs, sub management and staff software, task management—and we all know the list goes on! Now calculate the cost. Yikes, right?

 

The Problem: Tech Fatigue 

Over the past few years, dozens of platforms have popped up to help your studio. And while all are well-intentioned and there to solve a problem, the tech fatigue is real. We haven’t even talked about aggregators yet. Once you decide on the “right” tech partners to run your business, you must determine where to be listed to get people in your business. Classpass? Gympass? Something hyper-local? But here’s the thing: All of these eat your already slim margins. After a grueling couple of years for our industry, I’d like to think it’s time for simplification. We’ve all had to pivot and get scrappy, so here’s our chance to streamline, professionalize, and reenergize every studio tech touchpoint. 

 

The Solution: Education (and Top-Notch Tech)

For an industry with relatively straightforward service offerings, it should be easy. And it doesn’t need to be this hard. For any fitness business, there are five main categories you have to manage at all times: 

  1. Program Management (what classes are on your schedule and how clients book + pay)
  2. Staff (who teaches, who operates, who sells)
  3. Client Management and Communication (retention and nurture)
  4. Finance and Operations (money, reporting, and day-to-day studio management)
  5. Brand and Marketing (customer awareness and acquisition)

Now, what do you need to operate a high-quality, world-class studio business and make each of those buckets run smoothly? That was the question we asked ourselves when we started concepting Walla. I argue that a few of the numbers above should be managed in one to two places. And that’s what we’ve created (and continue to optimize) in Walla—a beautifully intuitive studio management platform built to powerfully, you guessed it, simple. 

 

The Breakdown: There’s Beauty in Streamlined Simplicity

Here’s what your studio needs to succeed with Walla:

Program management: In our software, you can run your programming in an incredibly modern way, including classes, appointments, and enrollments. Our clients who switched to Walla routinely say it took them a few days to learn Walla rather than the months it took them to learn how to operate simple day-to-day tasks in their previous platform. 

“It would have taken me three weeks of onboarding with Mindbody to accomplish everything on this list. In Walla, I didn’t even need training. It was so intuitive,” said Christine DeFilippis, owner of Pop Fit Studio. 

You can edit, add, and navigate with fewer clicks than you thought possible. And the best part is that your staff and studio members will thank you for the change. Walla makes sales and client interactions, requests, and questions more straightforward than ever before. 

Staff: Adding staff and paying staff is not just thorough and customizable (our industry is notorious for creative class pay rates), but you can also manage your instructor subs in a quick, targeted, and automated fashion. It’s like tech magic! Walla’s payroll exports are explicitly designed to import directly into payroll software and are even broken down into contractors versus employees for ease and efficiency. Plus, our instructor stats dashboard allows you to accurately measure important metrics, like performance, retention, and more, so you can set clear expectations while creating a culture of accountability and success.

Client management and communication: This is my favorite part. What used to take one to two external platforms to send newsletters, automated and customized drip campaigns, and text messages is now under one roof in Walla. The possibilities are endless regarding the granular audiences you can send specific communication to, and you can decide if email, text, or both are right for each. Talk about a time saver. No worrying about API downtime or integration errors reading data. Walla is your one source of truth, so you can deliver the right message at the right time with push notifications, two-way texting, engaging and beautifully designed emails, and built-in AI that elevates your brand!  

Finance and Operations: Walla’s reporting is designed to simplify your monthly analysis process and give you easy access to actionable insights. We didn’t just plaster table after table of data in front of you; we created graphs with contextual information about your clients and operations and what actions can be taken to move the needle in the right direction. The 8-10 data points that most studios measure monthly are there, front and center, without tagging and jumping between reports or systems—like in Walla’s Plan Retention Report. You can also create tasks for your staff based on the data in these reports so that you can be confident that action is being taken. Ultimately, we make it straightforward and less stressful to make decisions that help your business grow. While you still need QuickBooks (or something similar) for accounting and payroll execution, Walla covers you at every point of your studio and client journey. 

Brand and Marketing: Now, you might wonder how Walla can help with brand and marketing. Hello, marketing suite! When it comes to your brand, that’s all you, your creative process, your clients (and what they say about you), and your different channels where clients see you. However, Walla puts your brand front and center—like keeping them on your website and creating branded widgets. From a marketing perspective, you’ll need Google, social media, signs, direct mail, word of mouth, and all the traditional means to attract new clients. Walla can simplify the process of acquiring new prospect info with our customizable lead forms and QR codes so you can capture client interest in intent in real time. 

Decisions are endless for entrepreneurs, and our day-to-day lives can pivot at any moment. I personally find that simplification and creating processes that can scale with bigger teams and offerings will always help the business thrive without the need for extra budget, added software, or overall confusion. Simplification rules!