Sitting in many fitness facilities right now are valuable instruments that can help increase memberships and revenue, better target prospects and help improve operations. Those tools are part of a facility’s club management software.
Club operators use the software for member billing and scheduling, but these programs often can do much more. And club management software vendors say some of these little-used features or modules should get more traction.
One of the first features fitness facility operators should not ignore is the check-in module, says John Ullrich, president of Aspen Information Systems, Houston-based maker of Aspen club management software. This module can help operators identify members who are inactive or who only infrequently visit the facility.
Although contacting these individuals could prompt some of them to cancel their memberships, the contact also offers an opportunity for staff members to personally invite these missing-in-action members to upcoming events, introduce them to new trainers or classes or discuss new equipment, Ullrich says.
“Offering incentives and rewards entices members to keep their membership and utilize the facility more often,” he says. “Usage data is a valuable tool for retaining members.”
Some software features help club operators better track their prospecting efforts, which should entail more than just off-handedly asking the sales team at weekly meetings how things are going.
“Prospects equal sales, and clubs need to be consistent about entering, tracking and following up on prospects,” says Christie McPherson, software training manager for ASF International, Highlands Ranch, CO-based maker of ClubPRO Online. “Club managers generally have good intentions, but they don’t hold their sales staffs accountable for tracking prospects, following up with leads and closing sales. We have a prospect report that managers can use to quickly see what their closing ratio is to make sure they’re successfully using the prospect tracking database and bringing in new members.”
Many software programs also allow you to manage fitness assessments and personal training. Not only can these features help evaluate and track members’ progress—a helpful tool in member retention—it also can generate additional revenue, says Larry King, owner of Shape.net, Colts Neck, NJ.
“For example, a gym could charge for a series of personal training sessions with an assessment fee in the beginning and the end,” King says.
Club management software also can help to expertly manage personal training programs and capture all associated revenue from them. ClubPRO Online offers a personal training liability report that clubs can use to better target prospects for the program.
“Many clubs give free sessions that are never used; therefore, they never have an opportunity to sell those members training packages,” says Sean Kirby, national sales director for ASF International.
Club managers could use the report to review unused sessions. Also, managers could use the report to identify members who have only a few paid personal training sessions left so they can try to sell them additional packages.
Shape.net offers remote training capability that its club customers should be taking advantage of to capture revenue from members who are going out of town, King says. A personal trainer can use the software to set up a workout program for the member for the time he or she will be away.
“The member can log into the program remotely using a secure password and view the prescribed workout for the week,” King says. “Clubs could make money off of this by charging, say, a bit less than a usual week’s worth of workouts, but it’s capturing lost revenue, because the member was unlikely to spend anything on personal training that week anyway.”
ASF International’s ClubPRO Online has a feature to create and track monthly payments for training packages and sessions.
“In today’s economy, who has the disposable cash to pay up front for training?” asks McPherson. “More clubs need to allow members to draft training payments. If members have an option to finance all or part of training packages, clubs would sell significantly more training, and members are more likely to train consistently, meet their goals and refer friends.”
Lastly, using software to manage personal training programs can help control “theft” by personal trainers—both those employed by the club and independent trainers—who may decide to accept cash from clients and not fully report their billings back to the club, says Al Noshirvani, CEO of Motionsoft, Silver Spring, MD. If club operators required that all personal training sales be done through the software and not between client and trainer, that would help to eliminate the problem.
If only staff has access to a club’s customer-facing capabilities in its software, the facility could be missing out on operational efficiencies. For example, Spectrum NG from CSI Software offers online services that allow members and guests to view account information, register for programs and classes, schedule tennis and personal training appointments, make payments and more.
“Offering online services to your customers allows a club to reduce labor costs by reducing the number of calls to staff, increase revenue by offering 24/7 registration and booking, and improve the overall customer experience,” says Andy Wigderson, vice president of sales and marketing for CSI Software, Houston.
Kyle Zagrodsky, president of iGo Figure Software, Houston, says his program’s Welcome Screen Custom Language Choice (which offers 22 languages) is a useful but often-overlooked feature that clubs can use to “better ingratiate themselves to a diverse membership base.” Each member selects his or her language of choice, and all relevant information is displayed online in the preferred language. Additionally, all printed documents produced by the software for that member (e.g., invoices, receipts) also are translated automatically by the software into the member’s selected language.
Some software options can offer insights into point-of-sale data. If facility operators do not know who their top customers are, they most likely are not using their software’s point-of-sale data effectively. Software can tell facility operators not only who these members are, but what they are buying, data that potentially can be used to sell more products and services to a greater number of members.
“Profiling and knowing the needs, likes, dislikes, activities and spending trends of all members help with retention and revenue,” says Ullrich of Aspen Information Systems. “This knowledge can be utilized so members spend more time and money in the facility. Capturing and interpreting the data through your club management software is vital for success. Kicking up the amount each member spends can improve the club’s bottom line without increasing the number of members.”
By tracking members’ spending habits, Ullrich adds, the staff know how to schedule activities and services, maintain inventory (e.g., bottled water, tennis balls, T-shirts) and how to operate a more member-friendly and efficient facility.
These options are all reasons for facility operators to ensure they know all the features of their software—and learn how to use them to best increase their revenue potential.