Small clubs can get big benefits from using club management software, which can help reduce billing errors and create more touch points.
Implementing club management software gives operators more time to focus on making money by adding and retaining more members. Photo courtesy of iGo Figure Software.
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Deciding to open a fitness club is a big step. And once you have decided to open a new club, it is important to have a checklist of things to do to make your club a success. It might include items such as:
- Decide on a concept
- Write a business plan
- Arrange financing
- Buy equipment
- Finalize the lease
- Turn on utilities
- Hire and train staff
- Design website/marketing
- Buy insurance
- Buy club management software
Buying a club and membership management system probably was not even on your list. You might have found yourself saying, “Club management software? Nah, that’s for big clubs, and I’m not ready for that. Besides, who needs the added expense when a club has 500 members or less?”
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this. In the late 1990s, when I ran fitness clubs, I actually tracked member attendance on index cards kept in a box. After all, there were not any cost-effective solutions for smaller gyms at that time. The software packages I researched cost as much as $10,000 and EFT/ACH processing was between $2 and $5 per member. It was financially impossible to consider. But times have certainly changed, and so have the systems available to run your facility.
With the advancement of the Internet and web technology, club management software has evolved substantially in terms of both functionality and affordability. Many great software products are now available to handle your needs for less than $100 per month and fully integrated payment processing can be had for as little as 10 cents. Affordable software with all the features you need is readily available today. In fact, if you are not using club management software to run your club, you are losing money.
Here is why you should consider purchasing club management software:
It saves you money. The most compelling reason to use software to help run your club is that it will save you money. Without software, you are manually tracking when contracts start and stop. Manually maintaining your list of members and then billing them correctly is not as easy as it sounds. Club owners who implement a club management system after having manually tracked their members often find billing mistakes for members who should have been billed, which cost the club thousands of dollars per year. The funny thing is, members never tell you about those billing mistakes like they do when they are billed more than they should have been.
It makes you more money. Your fitness club’s goal is to make money by adding and retaining more members. Spending time on other tasks does not allow you to accomplish these goals. With software in place, you can use the time that was previously spent manually managing club memberships and payments to focus on marketing and club services that will retain members. Today’s software will automatically track all your member contracts, and when the memberships expire, the software will submit and process recurring payments and lock out members who have not paid.
It creates more touch points. The features available in today’s club management systems enable you to get to know and maintain your members like never before. Such features include birthday greetings on a member welcome screen or birthday emails, member photos on member scan-in to help you associate the names with the members’ faces, and member emails automatically generated based on attendance patterns. They also allow you to track member demographics to better focus your marketing efforts and provide integrated appointment and class scheduling.
It allows door access. You don’t have to be a franchisee of a huge chain to get an affordable and easy-to-maintain door access system that permits members to access your club 24/7. Door access systems are available for less than $1,000 and integrate with some club management systems.
With all of the great, affordable software options available to run your club today, you simply cannot afford not to use software to run your fitness club.
Kyle Zagrodzky is president and CEO of iGo Figure Software and the former owner of nine fitness clubs. His knowledge of the fitness industry and effective club management solutions has made iGo Figure Software one of the world’s leading providers of member management systems. For more information about Zagrodzky and iGo Figure Software, visit www.igofigure.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.