Chris Finch is the Co-founder and Vice President of Analytics for MOTUS Consumer Insights. Before his current venture, he worked for over two decades in various business operations roles, from owning his own small businesses to overseeing international franchising for Gold’s Gym. In this expert interview, Chris shares how consumer analytics can improve business operations through budget savings, risk management, and enhanced customer experience.
1. Can you give us an overview of your business operations background?
For the vast majority of my business career, consumer analytics has played an important role. My interest in data analytics began when I transitioned from being a single-location manager to owning a franchise group. A great manager can make one location succeed, but when you’re spread across two, four, or ten different businesses, you need consumer analytics. I dedicated myself to researching the tools and platforms that could source the consumer analytics my businesses needed to succeed. From this data, I unified my workflows, marketing strategy, and customer experience across my businesses.
This success led to me being recruited to the corporate team of one of the nation’s largest fitness franchises. I oversaw franchising for the Western U.S. and eventually was promoted to head the company’s international franchising. In this role, I managed businesses in 42 different countries. Our success came from being at the forefront of consumer analytics. We leverage data for every decision. Most importantly, using site selection analysis to confidently select trade areas to start new franchise locations.
When I left that company, I teamed with a group of investors to found a new fitness company. We built the brand from the ground up and franchised it across several states. Here, I utilized consumer analytics to uncover and understand our core customer segments. With data, we were able to mold our brand and programming around our most loyal customers’ needs. This understanding of our customers led to rapid franchising.
Finally, I unified everything I had learned about consumer analytics to create the MOTUS CI analytics platform. It’s the combination of decades of real-world business operations experience. The incredible amount of data MOTUS CI can generate is directly tied to solving business problems I encountered throughout my career. This platform is truly built for business operators by operators.
2. What triggered your interest in consumer analytics?
In part, it was because of the introduction of the HVLP model into the industry. Before they came on the scene, a lot of clubs didn’t really spend money on marketing. Then a major HVLP franchise disrupted the entire industry. They seemed to know exactly which neighborhoods to open new locations, and what prospects to target with marketing. Overnight, fitness clubs had to go from very little monthly marketing spend to dramatically increasing their budgets just to compete, but regardless of what they spent, they couldn’t keep up with the industry’s newest disruptor. They seemed to have the secret sauce and always returned a higher ROI.
My dream was to be successful in the fitness industry. So, I had to know how they were doing it. The answer was consumer analytics. I was already familiar with the concept because I come from a family of child psychologists. I knew you could create profiles of human behavior and segment large populations into these profiles. This led me down a rabbit hole researching consumer analytics technology and platforms. The result of all that research was the creation of the MOTUS CI analytics platform.
3. What makes the MOTUS CI analytics platform different?
It’s really two-fold. The first thing is the depth and specificity of data we can generate. Our platform sources over 60,000 data points to give our clients unique insights into their trade areas and customers. While our analytics competitors rely on census block data. What that means is you get data insights based on populations that live nowhere near your business.
The second thing is our real-world experience. We’ve assembled an internal team full of business operators. People who have been in our clients’ shoes. They know the pitfalls, they know the struggles, and they know what makes a business successful. Lyle and I built the MOTUS CI analytics platform to deliver the critical insights fitness operates need to grow a club. Through hiring, we’ve emphasized real-world experience in the other industries we serve too. We knew our analytics could make a major impact in healthcare. So, we brought in Russ Gannon who has decades of healthcare marketing experience.
4. How does consumer analytics save businesses money?
In short, it significantly reduces marketing budget waste. 90% of small businesses blindly blast every prospect with the same marketing content. They don’t personalize the messaging, the offers, the imagery, or the marketing channel used. Consumer analytics focus your spending, so you only pay to reach the prospects that actually matter.
Take fitness marketing as an example. If you mass market in a neighborhood with 100 houses, maybe 25 of them contain a person interested in joining a gym. Right away, 75% of your spending was wasted. But even from the 25%, it’s unlikely every prospect is a good fit for your gym model. A luxury club’s ideal member is not the same as an HVLP gym. Realistically, around 7% of a neighborhood will match your gym’s core member segments. With consumer analytics, you can pinpoint that 7% from the start. Rather than targeting every household, you spend a fraction of the cost and still engage the high-value prospects.
5. How does consumer analytics improve risk management in business?
It’s incredibly expensive to make a mistake in business. If you go down the wrong path, invest in the wrong services, you could sink your business. Therefore, you can’t rely on best guesses or assumptions to dictate business decisions. Years ago, my partners and I got a hair-brained idea to introduce yoga classes across our franchise locations. We had zero concrete evidence our members wanted yoga classes but it was trendy, so we went full steam ahead. It turned into a $400,000 mistake. Using consumer analytics solutions like Portfolio Optimization, we could have analyzed our customer base and identified that there was no customer demand for yoga.
Now think about the risk of opening a new business. If you sign the lease on a 25,000 square foot space, you’re assuming a huge amount of liability. Running a Site Selection Analysis is the best way to mitigate risk. The data will show you the absolute best location for your new business based on a variety of factors. You can sign a lease knowing the trade area has strong consumer demand for your services, the competition level is low, and the nearby businesses will generate steady customer foot traffic past your door.
6. What’s the most important insight consumer analytics can give businesses?
I’ll start by saying consumer data is important for every aspect of a business. However, if you need a place to start, using analytics to understand who your customers are is critical. A lot of businesses don’t actually know their customers very well. Worse, they don’t understand the different types of customers they have.
Take the fitness industry for example. You have to know what types of customers visit your club at each period of the day. Morning gym-goers are largely white-collar workers with regular routines. The afternoon crowd skews toward retirees staying active. While the evening crowd tends to be younger, looking for group classes or a more social environment.
If you don’t understand the difference between your major customer segments, you’re wasting marketing dollars. I can tell you right now younger demographics are throwing direct mail ads in the trash, and they aren’t using Facebook. If those are your primary marketing channels, you’re missing that segment of customers. Data analytics can give you in-depth insights into your customer segments, the products and services they want, and the ideal marketing channels to reach them through. This is the number one way to avoid wasting your marketing budget.
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