Health Systems Group
Health and fitness is a critical part of employee productivity as well as personal wellbeing. Heath facilities have grown substantially in Canada in the last 30 years and are often an important part of workplaces, residences, and community centres. Health Systems Group is Canada’s only specialized provider of management and consultancy services to the health and fitness industry. The Canadian Business Journal sat down with President Kim Snider and Quebec Regional Manager Christopher Laurin to learn more about this unique business model.
“We don’t own any fitness clubs, but we operate them on behalf of others,” says Snider of the services Health Systems Group provides. This includes facility design and management for developers, corporations, private owners, commercial clubs, municipalities, community centres, and other organizations. “We apply systematic operations to those facilities on behalf of the owners,” Snider explains.
Health Systems Group serves many organizations, but its primary focus is still the corporate market. Established in 1978, the company quickly grew from an Ontario-based business into the booming western provinces. Recognition of the importance of physical and mental health in organizations, individuals and communities is still a paramount principal. Health Systems Group’s mission and vision is to provide the inspiration and resources for individuals to develop sound, healthy lifestyle practices to keep them well and improve quality of life.
The corporate market
Years ago, the easiest place to encourage the basic principles of fitness was through corporations, and Health Systems Group still has a large hand in the corporate market. It has a long-established client base that has been with the company for numerous years. Health Systems Group developed the first employee fitness centre in Canada with Imperial Oil more than 30 years ago. “We continue to operate that on their behalf and they are still a client after all these years,” says Snider with pride.
Health Systems Group has important relationships with developers and property managers across Canada, which increasingly sees the value of having managed health and wellness facilities in buildings, and the impact this addition has on business and sales. It is through results such as this that Health Systems Group has become a trusted partner with its clients.
Management and consultancy
Health Systems Group offers two distinct services in the health and wellness realm: management and consultancy, although revenue is generated primarily through management services. This includes all of the staffing and professional people involved in the operation of a facility. “A large chunk of our revenue is related to payroll costs,” Snider explains, noting the differentiation between corporate and community projects. “The work that we do in community centres—if you’re looking at dollars—provides the most revenue, but if you’re looking at percentage of revenue before overhead costs, then our corporate wellness and fitness contributes significantly more that way.”
Success during recession
Health Systems Group has a very high client retention rate, a likely reason it fared quite well during the recent economic downturn. “We achieved great outcomes for our clients during the downturn,” says Snider. “In some cases actual significant growth was made on their behalf. Our own personal business growth was quite strong as well. In Alberta, we opened up new projects more than doubling the number of clients.”
Laurin is quick to point out that a Health Systems Group management system is an important survival factor for many organizations. “For a lot of the larger community health centres having strong operational plans in place and strong organizational plans in place during a downturn was a big benefit because you weren’t going into crisis mode—you were working with the changes and adapting.”
Both Laurin and Snider acknowledge that there has indeed been an element of difficulty doing business during the recession, but feel the focus on great customer service and a fantastic client experience has helped the business through. “We also don’t ever play the price point game,” adds Snider, noting that a lot of businesses drastically slashed prices during that time. “We continued to sell as we normally do.”
Growth and expansion
Health Systems Group is anticipating an upcoming growth period, primarily organic and self-generated. “70 to 80 per cent of all our business comes from referrals,” says Snider. “As we have key property developers and management with locations across Canada we are looking to penetrate further into that market. The corporate market also looking like it will present some opportunities as organizations change. We already have some RFPs out there and have some client that we are in the consulting phase and we will open new operations and move into the management component of that in the near future.”
Health Systems Group has regional offices in Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, so its growth strategies are tailored for each regional market. It is also investigating the idea of providing its consulting services in more of a coaching model, using technology to consult more boutique-type operators.
Health Systems Group will continue to evolve with the health and wellness market, always promoting a healthy and well lifestyle.