Next to a knowledgeable staff, software can be a club's most valuable resource. With the right tools, you can save your club both time and money. From data collection and billing to marketing and scheduling, many management programs not only make your job easier, but also more effective. All the information you need is at the touch of your fingertip on the computer screen.

Best of all, you don't have to have a degree in computer science to know how to work the programs. They're fast, user-friendly and work in real time, allowing you to spend less time behind the computer and more time out on the floor running your club.

The following companies can help you decide what software programs will work best for your business needs.

AFFILIATED ACCEPTANCE CORP. The Affiliated Acceptance Corp. (AAC) Front Desk Facility Management software system is a user-friendly program that can be implemented by any club, including those with multiple locations. This system completely runs your front-desk counter, from member check-in and scheduling to pro-shop sales, accounts receivables, renewals and delinquency reporting. In addition, the AAC Front Desk Interactive system interacts with club owners via EFT, credit card, payment coupon and mail-in payments processing. AAC also provides collection services through a third-party collection agency, Professional Financial Services Inc.

Affiliated Acceptance Corp., P.O. Box 790001, Highway 5, Sunrise Beach, MO 65079; (573) 374-9970; (800) 233-8483; fax: (573) 374-9972; www.affiliated.org

AMERICAN SERVICE FINANCE INTERNATIONAL Paired with state-of-the-art computer systems, American Service Finance (ASF) International's ClubPRO 3000 allows fitness clubs to manage their membership base, generate reports, track the sales process and view accounts on the Internet - in real time. According to ASF, ClubPRO 3000's user-friendly interface, additional Web-based software and efficiency make it a valuable business tool for managing and organizing your health club.

ASF International, 12596 W. Bayaud Ave., Suite 100, Denver, CO 80228; (800) 227-3859; info@asfinternational.com; www.asfinternational.com

APEX MANAGEMENT SERVICES For use with any IBM-compatible computer, the Apex Management software keeps track of all your members' information, including their payment history. The software tracking system warns of past dues, expires and cancellations, and features printable reports (e.g., information on usage, birthdays, renewal dates, etc.).

Apex Management Services, P.O. Box 21277, Eagan, MN 55121; (800) 317-2739; (651) 306-0066; apex@apexmanagement.com; www.apexmanagement.com

APHELION The AIMS (Aphelion Interactive Member Server) system includes an Internet version of the popular club management software. The AIMS system provides an online Web connection for each of your members, allowing them to view account information and billing history. Members can make payments, schedule classes and log workouts through a Web browser from the home or office. The AIMS system provides increased member support and is backed by a seven-day, 24-hour support plan.

Aphelion Inc., 1100 NASA Road 1, Houston, TX 77058; (800) 324-9800; fax: (281) 333-9816; sales@aphelion.net; www.aphelion.net

CSI SOFTWARE CSI Software's eMember club management program is operated over the Internet with CSI providing the data storage, servers, programming and technology support. Membership sales, accounting, scheduling and class registration can all be performed in real time, whether the club is a one-site or multi-site operation.

CSI Software, 3120 Southwest Freeway, Suite 300, Houston, TX 77098; (800) 247-3431; sales@csisoftwareusa.com; www.csisoftwareusa.com

CHECKFREE CheckFree's RCM Solutions offers a comprehensive set of products and services for the health and fitness industry. Featuring a browser-based club management system, RCM keeps tabs on the total picture - members, operations and revenue. Club cash flow is immediately improved through the monthly electronic transfer of member fees directly into the club's business accounts.

CheckFree, 4411 E. Jones Bridge Road, Norcross, GA 30092; (678) 375-3000; www.checkfree.com

CLASS SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS The Class Software Solutions (CSS) integrated suite of software products delivers clubs a functional and easy-to-use system for site management. Created for distributed, multi-user systems, and with software options fully integrated and interconnected, CSS's Class Enterprise and Class Express systems can support hundreds of users working simultaneously - either in a single building or any number of other sites.

Class Software Solutions Ltd., Suite 300, 6400 Roberts St., Burnaby, BC, Canada V5G 4C9; (604) 438-7361; (800) 661-1196; fax: (604) 432-9708; class@classinfo.com; www.classinfo.com

CLUBRUNNER ClubRunner's modular system embodies all the management features you need to run your club efficiently, notes the manufacturer. It's easy to use, integrated and capable of flexible report generation. Pop-up windows make navigating the system easy and fast, and real-time processing automatically updates all data throughout the system when you post entries. ClubRunner systems are network-ready and can be used to support an extensive network. In addition, you can use modems for easy data transfers from one location to another, and their system security programming allows you to assign passwords for various levels of access.

ClubRunner, 1080 Indiantown Road, Suite 202, Jupiter, FL 33477; (800) 554-2582; (561) 746-3392; fax: (561) 746-5822; clubrun@bigsky.net; www.bigsky.net/clients/clubrun

CUSTOM DESIGN SYSTEMS INC. Custom Design System's PowerManagement software eliminates the need for membership cards. The company's Video Identification Check-In displays your member's photo along with all vital stats, like payment history, date and time of last visit, and emergency contact information. In addition, the software features member and guest tracking, employee time clock, direct credit-card authorization, and receivables management. PowerManagement also keeps you on top of your business needs, like commission tracking, inventory, invoices and point of sale.

Custom Design Systems Inc., 200 Daniels Way, Suite 210, Freehold, NJ 007728; (908) 294-0003; (800) CDS-SALE; fax: (908) 294-9397

FAIR FINANCIAL SERVICES Fair Financial's customized business software and management services can help your club build cash flow while increasing sales and overall profitability, states the company. Fair Financial's Optimal Front-Desk Check-In software will help club operators manage member's account information. In addition, Fair Financial's services include an immediate purchase and/or servicing of member contacts, portfolio management, electronic payment programs and management reports.

Fair Financial Services, 815 E. Market St., Akron, OH 44305; (800) 735-FAIR; www.fairfinance.com

LEGEND INFORMATION SYSTEMS Club management programs from Legend Information Systems are written solely for the Windows platform, offering a user interface based upon graphics. Legend's management systems are touch-screen activated and comprise numerous hardware components (such as PCs, network hubs, video cameras, light pens, modems and more). Program features include check-in, billing and member management. Legend Information Systems can even convert pre-existing software systems to its own.

Legend Information Systems, 2704 Southern Blvd., Suite 12, Rio Rancho, NM 87124; (800) 476-4202; fax: (520) 447-1357; legendware@legendware.com; www.legendware.com

NATIONAL FITNESS FINANCIAL SYSTEMS National Fitness Financial Systems (NFFS) now provides an Internet-based club management system called e-Club net-Success. NFFS programs include membership administration, toll-free member support, contract management, EFTs, coupon-book production, payment-reminder calls, contract management services, in-house collections and more.

National Fitness Financial Systems, 1645 E. Highway 193, Layton, UT 84040; (888) 969-6000; fax: (800) 574-0074; solutions@nffs.com; www.nffs.com

SRI STRATEGIC RESOURCES INC. SRI's BookIt Activity Registration and Facility Scheduling software is designed to be extremely user friendly and scalable. Utilizing Internet, phone and kiosk capabilities, Book-It's Web-based system enhances customer service, provides 24-7 access and allows self-service convenience.

SRI Strategic Resources Inc., Suite 400, 200 First Ave. W., Seattle, WA 98119; (888) 799-6548; inquiry@sri.bc.ca; www.sri.bc.ca