Before you invest

Questions you should ask before investing in management software for your gym

Questions you should ask before investing in management software for your gym
Written by GEORGE Published on 2020-08-17 8 minutes read

The decision to implement new management software for any type of business is very important. It can generate a lot of headaches for both management and the employees using it.

This is true for gyms and fitness centers as well. Such a business needs a management program that solves all the challenges your employees encounter every day. Though many people think a management software for gyms is basically a database with members and membership types, a truly useful platform is so much more than that.

A gym is a complex business that entails more than a room with training equipment, isn't it? That is why such a business needs an equally complex technical solution that handles every aspect from member and membership management to product and service sales, the management of product inventory, personal trainers and class instructors' activity, member communication methods and features for members.

It's not always easy to find the perfect solution for your fitness center, and that is reason enough to think carefully before taking the leap. To help you, I will try to list some questions you should ask about a potential management software you might be interested in investing.

Pin down the needs of your gym

Before you start looking for software or a platform, it's essential to set out your gym's necessities. Each business is different and has different needs, that is why not any digital solution might be useful for you.

From my experience with UPfit.cloud, I must confess I had potential clients that I had advised to find a different solution for their gym, instead of our software. Crazy, I know! I did that because I knew our software would not help them, but actually make their lives and work more difficult. 

It is crucial to pin down your business's needs to know precisely what features to look for in a new platform.

Start with a list of the services you provide in your club. Do you sell anything else apart from access memberships? Do you organize group fitness classes? Do you have personal trainers for private sessions? Do you have SPA services or a pool where you organize swimming classes?

What kind of employees do you have? Apart from the reception desk team, do you also employ trainers, instructors, or coordinators? How do you pay them, with a fixed salary, or based on their monthly activity?

What are the secondary aspects of your business? Do you sell products at the front desk? Do you manage product inventory? How do you issue contracts or invoices? What payment methods do you accept?

In the end, think about your members? What type of members do you have? Are they young and tech-savvy? Or do they mostly belong to a older age group that prefers thing analog? What is the onboarding method for new members? How do you recruit new members?

The answers to all these questions will help you get a general idea about your business and what digital solution you actually need. Now it's time to start asking questions about potential management platforms.

About management

Aspects regarding management are also the most important features for a gym management software, so it's essential to know what they are. That means both member and staff management and software management, like how it can be accessed and its price plan.

  • How many members can it have?
  • How many users can use the software?
  • Is the cost of the platform dependant on the number of members or users?
  • How can you access the platform? Is it in the cloud and accessible from any computer with an internet connection, or is it a single computer license?
  • What is the price plan for the software? Is it a one-time fee or a monthly subscription?
  • What are the contract's terms and conditions, and how can you get out of the contract? Will you have to pay extra for that?
  • What happens when you open a new club? How can you configure the new location in the software?
  • Is the platform regularly updated? If so, what are the costs for these updates?
  • What happens if you need a dedicated feature? Can you have it implemented?
  • What is the procedure for data backup?
About implementation

Implementing new software in any company takes effort. That is why it's crucial to know precisely what the deployment steps are, how long does it take, and what do you have to do for it. It is also important to know how long will your employees need to learn how to use the new software.

  • What is the initial setup cost?
  • Who performs all initial configurations, you or the software provider?
  • How can you add the members you already have, manually, one by one, or are there bulk import solutions?
  • How fast can your employees learn how to use the platform?
  • What resources will you receive for onboarding your employees (i.e., user manual, video tutorials, training sessions)?
  • What kind of equipment will you need to get the most out of the platform (i.e., computer, card reader, barcode reader, etc.)? 
About technical support

The technical support you receive when you purchase new software is very important. That should mean more than just a handful of how-to articles. It should mean the possibility to request help in real-time, from the company that created and manages the software. Otherwise, what will you do when you want to perform a particular task, and you don't know how, and you can't find the answer in any of the tutorials. How about when one of your employees needs help with the platform, and you are not there?

  • What kind of technical support does the software provider offer?
  • How can you request assistance (i.e., email, phone, technical support tickets)?
  • What is the maximum answering time for your requests?
  • Are there any additional costs for the technical support services, or is it included in the software's price?
About the features for members

Complete management software should also provide features and tools for members. That could mean mobile apps, member portals, or other similar features that would allow members to manage their activity at the gym.

  • Does the software also provide a mobile app for members? If so, what are the costs?
  • Who handles the maintenance of these apps?
  • Can it give new members the option to self-register online?
  • What communication features are included in the platform (i.e., newsletter, text messages, push notifications through the app)
  • What other digital tools can you provide to your members through the platform?
  • How do the mobile app and the rest of the digital features look? Can they be customized with your gym's logo and branding?
About additional software

More often than not, gyms, just like other companies, use several platforms for different processes. Therefore, to issue invoices, you need a dedicated solution, and member contracts might be managed with other software. For financial tasks, you might need accounting software, and so on.

Some management platforms have different integrations with such software, or they have these solutions included on the platform, so you don't have to purchase and use several digital solutions simultaneously.

  • Can you issue invoices straight from the platform?
  • Can you generate member contracts form the software?
  • Do you have to fill in documents in the database manually, or are they automatically filled in based on the software's information?
  • What accounting features does the gym management software have?
  • Can you issue accounting documents straight from the software?
  • Can you manage the petty cash register on the platform, or do you need different software for that?
  • If you sell products at the reception desk, can the software manage their inventory?
  • Can you issue inventory documents straight from the platform?
About integrations

Any sophisticated management software should provide various integrations with other software or equipment, whether it's a simple integration with fiscal equipment or more complex ones for access control systems.

All these integrations are meant to create a diverse ecosystem that ensures effective management of your business's every aspect, based on information saved in your management software.

At the same time, a complete integration means that your management software communicates with different software and equipment, without your employees having to copy data from one platform to another manually.

  • Is the gym management software integrated with cash registers? If so, with what types of cash registers?
  • Is the platform integrated with complex accounting software?
  • Can you integrate an access control system? If so, what kind of equipment do you need, how can you purchase it, and who will handle the setup?
  • Are there integrations for an electronic signature system for documents? Or is this feature included in the software?
  • Are there ways to display information from the software on your website, in real-time (i.e., membership prices, class schedule)?
  • Can you integrate the software with an online payment processing platform, so you can sell memberships online from your website or the member app? That way, you won't have to register each membership sold online manually.

Online payments

About automation

The most important benefit of management software, particularly for gyms and fitness centers, is the automation of most tasks. That means that your software will automatically perform most tasks that, until now, where handled by your employees. This automation can have various forms, and it doesn't necessarily involve complex processes. On the contrary, it can be minor aspects that can have a massive impact on your team's workload.

For instance, when an employee must renew a member's membership, how much information must they fill in, and how much is it automatically filled in, based on the information already existing in the database, about said member and membership type. Even details like automatically calculating the expiration date of a membership can save dozens of seconds for each sale, eliminating human error.

  • What is the selling process of a membership, and what task must be performed manually?
  • How can you check a member into the gym and validate their access?
  • What is the process for members to enter a group fitness class?
  • How do you manage the inventory after each product sale? Is it deducted automatically, or do you have to do it manually?
  • How can you notify members when you make a change in the software that affects them directly?
  • How can members find out when their membership is about to expire? Do you have to notify them one by one, or can they receive automatic notifications?
  • How can you calculate your trainers' revenue, based on the training sessions and the classes they coordinated during a specific time frame?
  • How can you perform the daily closing?
A quick catch up...

The decision to invest in management software for your gym is not an easy one, and in no way should you decide in a rush. It's crucial to identify your gym's needs and then see what platforms are there on the market with the features you actually need.

Just like in any other area, on the management software market, you will encounter loads of offers and grandiose phrases meant to catch your eye (I'll admit, we also use those kinds of phrases). However, before you make any decision, it's important to ask a series of questions meant to help you find out if certain software is truly useful for your fitness center, or it just might end up making your life harder.

These questions are more detailed than how much it costs, and when can I start using it. It's important information about management, integrations, support, deployment, tools for members, and more.

Once you find the answer to all these questions, you can surely make a smart and informed decision that will help you manage your gym and expand your business in the future.



GEORGE
GEORGE

George works in the fitness industry for over 14 years. He knows very well all the challenges that occur during gym’s daily tasks. His experience always takes shape into practical features for our platform.

Fitness Business Romania
Fitness Business Romania

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