It’s the New Year. That magical time when we have the human urge to put some closure on the year’s past. It’s time to dream of what a better version of ourselves looks like over the next 365 days and put those plans into action.
2022 was the most bittersweet year I’ve experienced in my nine years leading PushPress as a company. While we’ve had a great deal of successes to be proud of, we’ve experienced our share of growing pains and missteps that we will not shy away from acknowledging.
Find me a business that’s humming perfectly, and I’ll show you a parking lot in rural America. Growth comes with stress, and the businesses that can identify and alleviate stress points early and often are the ones that succeed.
This Isn’t The Rosy Recap You’d Expect
The “year-end recap” genre of writing is generally self-promoting and filled with positive notes. This one will not be. It will be honest, raw and real.
For that reason, this was really hard for me to write.
Self-reflection is hard. Public admission of self-reflection is even harder.
However, as fitness professionals, we all know accountability starts with honest self-reflection and vulnerability.
… and real lasting change requires accountability.
Our clients mean too much to ignore this.
However, along with this brutally honest assessment comes the silvery-est of silver linings:
🚀 Regardless of if you love PushPress today or you are feeling some pain, PushPress will serve you and your clients better. Starting immediately.
First, what we did well. By all measures, 2022 was an amazing year for PushPress and our clients.
Earlier this year, we raised $11M in fresh capital to continue in our quest of helping our clients make the world a healthier place.
We have earmarked a majority of this money to be invested into the very thing that moves the needle for you: Product development. This investment will help us build the product faster and in directions our client’s need.
In 2022, we doubled our team of gym-obsessed people here to serve you. Starting the year at 30 team members, we ended the year at 76.
On the product front, we got a some great things done:
- We launched Train, our workout tracking and publishing solution, and quickly began partnering with leaders in the programming space to streamline the delivery of workouts to your clients.
- We started development on a unified Member App joining Core and Train experiences in one app for your members.
- We launched Appointments 2.0 in beta for early testing and refinement to 32 clients.
- We’ve released the first version of our Staff App which allows your staff to manage the gym and your clients from anywhere they can hold their phone.
- We’ve begun releasing our 2nd generation Landing Pages which will address all of the shortcomings of the 1st generation Landing Pages.
- We’ve begun data modeling and Reporting 2.0 efforts to power our vision of Pressly - your AI powered gym assistant.
Check-In North Star Metric showed strong growth last year. (side note: holiday effect on gym attendance is nuts!)
North Star Metric: Gym Check-Ins
Another amazing outcome of 2022 was the establishment of Check-Ins as our company North Star metric.
We have determined that the single -most leading indicator to gym business success is member check-ins.
This aligns our entire company with our clients in a magical way, and gives every department here a directive and lens into helping our clients maximize their check-in numbers.
With every blessing comes its curse. In 2022, we grew in every direction unlike any other year - and we directly felt the pains of this growth.
Growth is an interesting problem, because it comes from doing everything right.
Growth is also a challenging issue because you start to see cracks forming in areas but you can’t deploy time and resources to every crack - only the ones that require it.
In 2022, we failed to address the right cracks at the right time more often than not. I can say this generally across all teams and from the front lines to myself, the CEO.
Over time, we’ve allowed a lot of less-than-ideal things to manifest in the system. To be honest, software is REALLY HARD to build and even harder to maintain, so you will find this list likely isn’t unique to PushPress.
But as the owners of the PushPress experience, it’s our job to be aware of these as they come up:
- Our overall system user experience is getting worse.
- We’re introducing too many bugs when we release code.
- We’re not fixing bugs that we introduce fast enough.
- Our communication (to you as well as within our own teams) needs massive improvement.
- Our data and reporting is not as reliable as we demand.
In recent years, we’ve focused on how to help gyms expand their offerings and ability to build higher revenue generating businesses.
I don’t think this is a failure in mindset as these are all things our clients have asked for:
More leads, more members, higher member satisfaction, and the ability for coaches to help more clients in less time.
In hindsight, all of these were necessary to build for our clients.
Where we misstepped was putting our entire focus into these directions.
Our Core System Lost Focus
While we were focused on expanding the capabilities of our clients, we failed in one massive place: We let our core, non-negotiable services degrade.
Things like billing, calendaring, authentication and communication services - which underpin every core operation at a boutique gym - began to become less reliable.
To make matters worse, patches and updates to them seemed to make problems worse. This was because our product teams were more focused on feature development than core operation support.
- Core, non-negotiable systems have not gotten the attention they deserve.
- Login, resetting passwords, and creating account user experiences have annoying issues plaguing them.
- Billing services should take all forms of payments customers want to pay with.
- Billing services must perform nightly billing in the local time of the client.
- Subscription services need easier management and reporting.
- Communication services have not been 100%.
- Scheduling services need to be overhauled and simplified.
- Mobile experiences for your members needs unification and enhancement.
- Mobile business management for staff was previously non-existent and currently needs improvement.
And now, as promised: The silver lining.
Every business, every person, every living entity can improve. PushPress and our team members are no exception to this rule.
- Improvement starts with honest and brutal self-reflection.
- Improvement requires unrelenting commitment and focus invested into areas of weakness.
- Finally, improvement is realized through unwavering follow through and repercussion for deviating from the commitment.
While 2022 was a great year for PushPress in many ways, it was not a success in the lens of the only reason we’re here:
To build the world’s best gym management platform.
In 2023, we promise to get back on this mission like you’ve never seen before.
Our Product Hierarchy Promise
We will go back to the basics with our product mindset and delivery promises. Everything will start and end with the core system being up, available and best in class. As we build new features and functionality, they must adhere to this promise of best in class software.
- Core System Functionality is our base of success. Our core systems must operate as expected 100% of the time.
- Bugs will be constantly prioritized if they arise. We will define clear ownership of bugs and process to follow when bugs appear.
- Small issues, user experience flaws and other feature adjustments will be given ongoing priority. Similar to bugs, we will develop a process to evaluate, ticket and work on things that might not be classified as a bug, but affects the user experience. (We call these paper cuts)
- Core Feature teams will be assembled to own feature verticals. These teams will be responsible for the entire Product Pyramid for each feature vertical: From core system reliability to new feature development.
- “Aspirational” feature design and development will be put on hold. Once we have made our core systems and experiences perfect we will resume more aspirational efforts.
In reflection, we became so focused on delivering new features and aspirational efforts, that we neglected the base of the Product Pyramid. Our efforts have already been adjusted to follow this Product Pyramid.
Structural, Communication and Procedural Promises
- We will investigate the formation of a customer advocacy group with the purpose of hearing and understanding feedback from our customers in a proactive manner.
- We will improve communications on bug fixes, feature releases and future product development to add transparency and flow of faster information.
- We will establish a framework for timely, clear, concise and transparent communication regarding customer issues. This includes clarity on if a problem cannot be fixed as much as clarity on if they can be fixed or when they are fixed.
- We will publish an immediate roadmap and hit our timelines (or have a damn good reason we didn’t).
- We will place an increased importance on user experience - starting with your members and moving towards staff and admins.
- We will build product with the mindset of releasing 100% bug-free code.
- We will require all data and reports to be clean, accurate, and documented.
2023 Product Delivery Promises
Aside from an immediate and ongoing focus on resolving issues and making overall systems experiences better, we will do the following this year:
- We will launch Appointments v2 in Q1 2023.
- We will fix Check-In Report and Late Cancel Reports in Q1 2023.
- We will launch CAD Direct Debit and SEPA billing methods in Q1 2023.
- We will invest in additional engineering help to increase the effectiveness of Grow in Q1 2023.
- We will overhaul our Communications system and completely resolve outstanding issues by Q2 2023.
- We will adjust nightly billing to run in local timezones by Q2 2023.
- We will launch our new Unified Member App in Q2 2023 (combining Train and Members).
- We will upgrade Staff App to replace Check-In App by end of Q2 2023.
- We will build recurring appointment functionality in Q3 2023.
- We will complete our overhaul of Landing Pages to v2 by Q3 2023.
- Completely unify Train into Core for administration and member experiences by Q4 2023.
The Wrap-Up: Back to the Basics
We did great things in 2022, but we lost a little focus. With focus and refinement of process, we will do much better in 2023.
We tried to do too much, too fast and took our eyes off of some important areas.
It’s time to get back to the basics.
The ask we will be making of our team is simple:
🔥 Every ounce of effort must be directed at making our customer experiences and outcomes better.
If a project or task is not achieving this goal, it will not be prioritized. We will take a bottoms -up approach, working on the foundational aspects of our business first. We will make commitments and expect ourselves to live up to them, and make any and all necessary changes to get those commitments accomplished.
As always, we thank you for your support and belief. 2023 will be a year where we do better.
Our team at PushPress is more invigorated than ever to build the world’s best gym management platform. 2023 will be an amazing year for our clients and our product direction.