Strengthening Fitness Businesses, One Relationship at a Time
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Business titles often convey a specific function, but for Rudy Nieto, Chief Revenue Officer at Daxko, his role extends beyond numbers and spreadsheets. In his view, the position is more about fostering meaningful relationships, leading him to prefer the title of Chief Relationship Officer.
"My role is all about nurturing success, and I believe the key to achieving that is the value of the relationships we're building," explains Rudy.
In late 2022, Rudy's appointment marked a pivotal moment in Daxko's leadership. This shift included strategic additions to the C-Suite, signaling a deliberate effort to fuel growth, innovation and deeper connections within the markets the company serves.
Daxko, a leading software provider in the health, fitness and wellness industry, empowers nearly 40% of fitness facilities across the United States. Their product lineup, featuring industry-leading technology solutions such as Daxko Operations, Club Automation and Zen Planner has penetrated virtually every niche within the fitness industry. Recent milestones include successful acquisitions, strong performance in the not-for-profit sector, international expansion into India, and substantial investments from Genstar Capital and GI Partners to fuel innovation. The core of the company's Mission, as Rudy elaborates, is to empower health and wellness throughout the world, with the intent of making fitness businesses and organizations more member native.
Rudy's journey to becoming Daxko's Chief Relationship Officer was far from conventional. Initially, he set his sights on a career in medicine, driven by a call to help individuals lead healthier lives. However, as he looked to the future, he recognized a shifting landscape within the medical field. Medicine had become more business than passion. Redirecting his career toward sales, Rudy brings over two decades of executive experience, primarily within the automotive industry. He pioneered software sales, marketing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to diverse car dealerships. His responsibilities evolved to include managing Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) relationships and data partnerships at Reynolds and Reynolds.
"It's interesting how similar the automotive and health and wellness sectors are," Rudy observes. "Both hinge on managing consumer experience, people, time and tools that drive revenue. But, in the fitness world, it's even more intricate. It's not as straightforward as, for instance, buying a General Motors car, where there might be only one dealership in town. Even if you don't particularly like the dealer, you'll likely still go to them. Here, in the club and YMCA sectors for example, the emphasis is on reputation and standing out."
Rudy's approach to his role centers on the value he places on partnerships and relationships. He emphasizes that business fundamentally revolves around people and firmly believes that a company's success is inherently tied to the strength of its relationships, making Daxko's Mission a personal one for him and his team.
Rudy highlights the importance of fitness clubs investing time in helping the Club Automation team understand their unique operations. Frequently, Rudy observes, businesses attempt to self-diagnose their challenges without seeking external expertise. Rudy champions a more collaborative approach, where his team assumes the role of students, immersing themselves in a club's day-to-day operations, pinpointing pain points and suggesting solutions.
"We aim to cultivate more profound engagement with fitness businesses to genuinely transform their operations. We view this as a valuable investment of our time. This approach not only prevents unnecessary spending on 'shiny' solutions but also brings attention to areas that may require improvement, even if our solutions aren't the answer," Rudy notes.
He highlights that the most perilous phrase in business is, "We've always done it this way." Rudy says that embracing change and innovative strategies is the key to progress for fitness businesses. Notably, he mentions his sales force for Club Automation, with over 50% of its team having hands-on experience in managing and owning fitness clubs. Rudy states that this is a purposeful choice, showcasing their commitment to deeply understanding the intricacies of the business.
Rudy acknowledges the fitness industry's notable challenges, particularly in keeping pace with the evolving demands of its members. With people now affiliating with various clubs, each addressing different needs, Rudy identifies this as an opportunity for fitness businesses.
"The biggest challenge I see is keeping up with member demands. People join different clubs for various reasons, and clubs need to adapt to cater to these diverse needs," Rudy points out.
He further explains this idea by sharing personal experiences. For example, he holds a membership at the YMCA because he supports its mission, and he takes advantage of the reciprocity program for his daughter. He's also a member of another fitness club because of their outstanding childcare services. However, when it comes to his running routine, he doesn't use a fitness facility at all. This highlights the trend of people actively participating in various clubs and services, showcasing the intricate nature of the modern fitness landscape.
Rudy envisions Daxko and its product offerings as centered around fulfilling the needs, desires and expectations of the fitness businesses they cater to. The focus is on simplifying the member journey and enhancing various aspects, from payments to on-site experiences. According to Rudy, Daxko is charting a new course for the future with a strong commitment to being the premier partner for fitness businesses. The company aims to achieve this by prioritizing relationships, comprehending the unique needs of fitness businesses and driving impactful change.
"I've got this concept in my mind of us having the most member-native experience in the market, and we feel like that is going to be the differentiator that nobody else can really match."