By Patrick Craig, Special AFS Contributor
The selection of good gym management software is a critical part of setting up your club, but for most owners, acquiring the right software can be an enormous pain point.
You can search the internet, go to the software recommendation sites and ask other clubs, but getting the program that specifically works for you can be a nightmare...unless you know what you are looking for and what features you require before you start. Let me give you some advice on a range of features that will be of great value in almost every situation.
Cloud-driven Operation from the Internet
Software that you install on your desktop can quickly use up tons of storage space and require fairly constant equipment upgrades. If you are not running the latest version of your PC’s software, you can also run into speed problems. A cloud-based system lets you work from anywhere you have an internet connection. Let your provider manage the storage space while you take care of your business—from your home, your club or even while traveling. Remember too, when you are looking at an online system, security and PCI compliance are important.
An All-Purpose App for Your Phone or Tablet
Many software packages include an app that you can download, either from the Apple store or Google Play, that lets your members gain access to their personal member record online. The most advanced packages have a member portal that the user accesses through the app. Once they are logged on the software allows them to view their purchased products, services (membership fees, etc.) and the personal training they have booked. The member should also be able to view and purchase offers such as personal training, family-add options and special promos. For convenience, the app should also call up the member’s personal barcode, which can be used right on their phone to check in to the club. And if your software has a training scheduler module, the app should allow members to purchase and book training online.
An Online Training Scheduler
The best gym software packages include a training scheduler and a public calendar that allows club managers and trainers to produce a beautiful graphic online calendar showing the availability of trainers to teach classes and training in specific time slots. Trainers should be able to schedule these availability slots using their phone, tablet or desktop computer. Members who have purchased those classes or training can then use a Member Portal to book themselves into the class or the training. You should also be able to post this calendar on your website or Facebook page and list all the current classes and the number of openings that are available for each class. Dispute management and trainer payments are also a plus.
The best gym software comes with a built-in Payment Gateway that allows you to bill your members and process the files for payment right through your software.
A Customized Front Desk POS (Point of Sale) Module
Not very many gym software packages include a built-in custom Point of Sale system, but it is a nice feature that lets you make sales at the front desk, both to your current members and your non-member walk-ins. Software that is on point will allow your customers to purchase any non-recurring item, be it bottled water or T-shirts, one-time facility fees, or non-recurring training packages. The POS should have the option of multiple payment methods so you can either add the payment to their member record or accept a credit card, check or cash. The most robust POS modules can be attached to your printer and from there to your cash drawer making it a seamless and easy sales system that is linked completely to your member database.
A Customer Relations Management System with eMail and Texting options.
High-end gym software will have the ability to do email blasts, overdue notices, special sale notifications and much more. It should include a template editor and some professional eMail templates already installed. A high-end CRM system lets you celebrate your member’s birthdays, create holiday and Black Friday Specials, notify specific member groups about sales or special offers, and reach out to members that have left the club. The Email / Texting function should work seamlessly with the member filter options to create unique groups within your membership to send emails to groups such as overdue members, members with children, seniors, members on insurance programs or any other group within your total membership database.
A Robust PCI-DSS compatible Electronic Funds Transfer Gateway.
The best gym software comes with a built-in Payment Gateway that allows you to bill your members and process the files for payment right through your software. Software providers that allow the retention of your existing merchant and company accounts and offer a wide variety of merchant solutions at competitive prices are something that will save you time and money.
These are many of the features that are important to consider when you are shopping for gym software. Additional important features are paperless contracts, the ability to use tablets and phones to sell your offers and sign people up at the front desk, and links from your database to your website so you can sell online. If you start your search with these features in mind, it will make your journey a lot less stressful, and you will be able to easily eliminate the packages that do not do the job.
Patrick Craig has worked in the Marketing Industry for the past twenty years. He is a published author and has written extensively about the fitness industry, particularly the gym software aspect of it. He has been with Money Movers, Inc. for the last six years where he serves as the Marketing and Operations Manager, web designer and coder, and maintains the custom websites Money Movers, Inc. develops for their Online Business Manager gym software clients.