What Has Approach Been Up To for Climbing Gyms This Year?


Authored by Andrew Potter

As a growing software company in the climbing industry, most of our focus at Approach has been on building a better product for our gym operators and onboarding new partners. We have not spent much time letting the world know what we are up to, so we wanted to take an opportunity to catch everybody up.

New Features

Over the past twelve months, we’ve been busy expanding our development, support, and success teams to help serve our growing client base. In addition, we have been growing our product and its available features. Our list of new feature additions is long, so we are going to focus on our team’s favorite features by popular vote.

Store Credit
Store Credit “keeps money from leaving the business and also gives the customer an incentive to come back again.” (All images courtesy of Approach)

Store Credit

Store credit is no different than what you see when you walk into Home Depot. If a customer is looking for a refund for a partially used membership or expired punch pass, in most cases it is more beneficial for the business to offer store credit instead of a refund. This service keeps money from leaving the business and also gives the customer an incentive to come back again.

Customer Forms and Questionnaires
Forms and Questionnaires come with multiple question format options, to better serve customers’ individual needs.

Customer Forms and Questionnaires

This feature allows gym operators to create custom forms that ask multiple-choice, choose one, and fill-in-the-blank questions. After a customer books, say, a birthday party and fills out that form online, their answers are displayed inside the event for easy staff access. This feature is great for asking customers what T-shirt size they prefer, if they have food allergies, or if they want pizza and cake to be provided for the party.

Enhanced Portal Customization
Portal Customization allows you to make the customer journey easier on customers and trackable for the marketing team at your gym.

Enhanced Portal Customization

We made customizing your customer portal easy. From the colors and transparency on the page to your fonts and button shapes, it’s all customizable. We even made it easy to grab embed URLs if you want to focus on promoting a single membership or event. Our team integrated with Google Analytics and Meta Pixel if you are a marketing wizard and are looking to follow customer journeys. Lastly, we built a deep linking feature that allows a customer to add a promotional item directly to the cart.

Customer Support Chat
The Support Chat streamlines customer-staff interactions, helping the staff at your gym respond to customer questions and concerns.

Customer Support Chat

This feature is a game changer for gyms that require membership change requests to be submitted. Through the portal, customers can go to the support section and click on the customized options that their gym has created. A few examples would be membership change requests, youth program inquiries, private events questions, or customer complaints. Once a gym customer starts a ticket, it goes straight to the main app. This automation means that those requests do not get lost in a form or email somewhere; rather, front desk staff or on-duty managers at your gym can respond to the requests immediately. They can chat back and forth with the customer, and when the issue is resolved they can close out the ticket. It maintains a record of the conversation in the main app for you to look back at in the future.

Promo Codes
There are tons of other new features at Approach, including Promo Codes for, say, member discounts at your online store.

Other Additions

Here’s a list of other recently released features that you may not know about:

  • Future Membership Holds
  • Enhanced Checkout Screen
  • Age-Restricted Memberships and Passes
  • Quickbooks and Quickbooks Classes
  • Customers Updating Their Primary Billing Card Online
  • Enhanced Kiosk App
  • Promo Codes
  • Pass Expiration Dates
  • Guest Checkout for Gift Cards
  • ACH
  • Enhanced Staff Permissions
  • Sounds for Customer Check-In
  • Rolling Booking (so you only load what you see on the calendar—yes, that means the calendar is fast)

So, if we have built all these features in one year, the natural question has to be: What’s next? We have been focused on making a partnership with Approach even more compelling by building and integrating more services, to become a single-source solution for all your climbing business needs.

Gym Management Tools

Let’s start with our most recent addition: Reputation Management. This new capability empowers our gym partners to manage their online reputation from a single location. Whether your business is listed on Instagram, Facebook, Yelp, Google, Trip Advisor, or any other source, this tool seamlessly pulls in all reviews and comments about your business to one place. It also offers key insights about consistently used words, terms, phrases, etc., and aggregates your star score across all platforms to know how well your business and staff are performing. Further, using our embedded Reputation Management platform gives the social media marketing team at your gym the opportunity to plan and schedule when content will go out ahead of time and where, alleviating the frustration of switching back and forth between social media channels.

Climbing in the gym
The Route Setting Management tool in the works at Approach will give setters new ways to manage their craft and more information on the key product gyms sell to customers. (Photo by Tara Shupe Photography)

Next is Route Setting Management. (Full disclosure, this product has not been released yet and is in the beta stage. We have a goal to release it by the end of the year, but the world of building software is ever-changing, and it can be very hard to predict timelines on new products.) This tool aims to enable the management team at your gym to better manage the overall health of your most important product: climbing. Every aspect of setting routes—from the time it takes to difficulty and density—all have important pieces of data associated with them that when looked at properly and adjusted accordingly can help improve your product.

The Route Setting Management feature is designed to: show you exactly how long it takes the setters at your gym to set and strip routes; identify exactly how many routes there are at any given time, how long those routes have been active, and set dates for when they are scheduled to come down; notify members of when their favorite routes will be removed and when new ones are added; and examine the level of difficulty on the routes across the gym. In addition, we will be tracking what was supposed to be set versus what went up on the wall.

Along with the typical data that managers of routesetting programs would like to see, we will also be pushing routesetting data to the front desk staff. Imagine the customer experience that can occur when a climber checks in at the front desk and the staff member immediately sees the projects the climber wanted to share on their profile. Routesetting in many ways is the lifeblood of a facility and its primary retail, so why shouldn’t the front desk staff have intimate knowledge of the retail in the gym and the preferences that customers have shared around what they want to buy? Routesetting is being designed as a tool focused on making gyms more efficient and improving their product for their clients.

Marketing, too, is something every gym must tackle. But knowing where, how, and what avenues are most effective for gym marketing remains elusive to many businesses. Keep an eye out for how Approach is tackling this issue in the near future.

The treadmill at Approach continues. If you don’t know what I mean by that idea, read this article: https://www.approach.app/posts/story.

About the Author

Andrew PotterAndrew Potter is an American entrepreneur and founder or co-founder of multiple companies (including ROKC climbing gyms and Approach), and community is the heart of his mission.

Conceptualized in 2014 during his third tour in Afghanistan with the 75th Ranger Regiment, ROKC began as a dream to make climbing available to everyone in Kansas City.

After dealing with the struggles of operating a multi-facility climbing gym company, Andrew co-founded Approach with the hopes that he could ease the pain that he went through for other gym owners. His goal of providing enterprise-level products for small business owners is still his focus today.

Aside from business, Andrew is still an avid climber and loves surfing on jugs in the Red River Gorge.

Most importantly, Andrew is a loving husband and father to three children.


This story was paid for by the sponsor and does not necessarily represent the views of the Climbing Business Journal editorial team.

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