BOSTON — About two years ago, the backend systems powering the Planet Fitness ecosystem were like that old treadmill that only goes up a few notches in speed.

“Not unlike many other rapidly growing companies we found ourselves with a number of legacy systems,” said Corey Benish, chief information officer for the Newington, N.H.-based fitness chain that has 1,100 facilities, mostly in the US.

The number of franchises have grown rapidly — 200 alone last year. Planet Fitness turned to Salesforce, like many of the other 7,000 attendees at yesterday's Salesforce World Tour at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

Beyond the hype of the World Tour here and the opening-act music of the Dropkick Murphys, this comes down to people using software. CMSWire caught up with three Salesforce users at the World Tour, one of 13 stops for the San Francisco-based CRM giant.

Streamline Franchise Process

corey benish

Benish and the Planet Fitness team had a simple need: streamline all communication between corporate, customers and franchises. Salesforce entered the picture about two years ago and Planet Fitness uses the Community Cloud tool to talk to franchises partners and track those conversations.

“They have to enable these franchise partners to build out stores, build out fitness centers and make them awesome,” said Mike Micucci, a seven-year Salesforce employee and the senior vice president of product management with Community Cloud and Salesforce Chatter. “How do you give them access to your CRM system, your marketing and product information so they can be super effective. That’s where Community comes in.”

Benish said to bring the franchises through the real-estate selection, marketing and ultimately member drives required ways to have “clean handoffs” between stakeholders — and not data in separate systems.

“Salesforce provides a single portal so you know where everyone stands,” Benish said.

Getting Salesforce up and running was about a five-month journey from start to finish, Benish said. They started “simply” then went into deep business process modeling. The next step was to move services team that supports franchises into the Salesforce Service Cloud and then dive into the complex processes like real-estate site selection.

It worked with a business partner on the implementation project.

“There’s an absolute benefit to making sure you’re right,” Benish said. “There’s a bigger benefit in the efficiency gain. We were comfortable with the data accuracy (before Salesforce), but it took extra cycles to get there.”

CRM Home Run

carrie campbell

When Carrie Campbell joined the Boston Red Sox Major League baseball organization a few years ago, she quickly learned there were some outdated, manual processes.

“They were booking their events in Outlook as a calendar notice,” said Campbell, now the vice president of sales and service for Fenway Park Events, which plans events at the Red Sox home field in Boston. “They were manually generating contracts and invoices.”

Then, the Red Sox did 75 events a year. Now they do 500. And they use Salesforce to manage it all.

“It took me a while to make the case to leadership,” Campbell said. “But the relationship between sales and services has now really improved. Operations have improved.”

Campbell also uses Salesforce to manage her sales staff and check in on goals and general performance. Salespeople can measure themselves in a “healthy competition” environment by looking at the dashboards inside the CRM.

“You have to keep asking for it and make a case,” Campbell said, offering advice to those who are investing in CRM. “If you’re not using Salesforce or something like it you’re probably not running your business responsibly.”

Partner Up

mike connolly

CloudCraze, a Salesforce e-commerce application, was one of the dozens of Salesforce partners exhibiting technology at yesterday’s World Tour. 

Based in Chicago, CloudCraze, a platinum Salesforce partner, “fills a void” in the Salesforce stack for customers that want to plug into an e-commerce engine, said Mike Connolly, an account executive in the Eastern Region at CloudCraze, which powers e-commerce engines like MyCoke.com.

“Companies are looking for ways to get closer to the customer,” Connolly said. 

“They’re looking at what they’ve done with you, how valuable you are and then ways to give customers the appropriate offer at the time of interaction. When customers of ours do a technology refresh they realize they may have their e-commerce tightly integrated with their ERP systems. That’s not where they’re touching their customers. They’re touching their customers in CRM, and that’s usually Salesforce.”

Connolly’s a longtime practitioner of CRM technology, Salesforce and others. Through three decades, Salesforce has been able “react and change” and embrace their partner community to all them “to build great apps on the backend infrastructure.”

“Salesforce has always been very easy to use,” Connolly said, “and they’re constantly innovating and have stayed way ahead of the competition because of their innovation.”