Managing a gym in 2019 looks a whole lot different than it did even 10 years ago. There has been an explosion in the tools available to help you manage everything from members, to email communications, workouts, retail, appointments, scheduling, basically any administrative function can be automated at least in part.
This is great news for fitness owners looking to get out from behind their desk and onto the floor with their members and communities. But, with all of these tools available it can be difficult to determine what will truly help run your business and what is just flash and frills.
With these considerations in mind, we’ve put together a checklist of what to look for from your gym management software in 2019. Here are a few of the things we think gym owners should be on the lookout for when evaluating software.
And if you’d like to just skip everything and download the entire list, click here.
This is the most obvious evaluation criteria. But it is important to recognize that not all ‘features’ are created equal. Just because a company pays lip service to a feature so they can check a box, doesn’t mean that they have the required depth to make the feature useful for gym owners.
If you’re looking for something to help you manage your gym the two factors you want to evaluate are breadth of features, how many tools do they have to help manage the day-to-day operations of your gym, and also depth of features. Do they have the detailed reporting you need? Is there workout tracking something that your members will find useful?
Each gym is unique, the needs for gym “x” may be completely different from gym “y”. Because of that, you can’t just build a “master list” of what features a software should have. Which is why we recommend building your own list and prioritizing which features are “must haves” vs “nice-to-haves”.
2). Payment Processing
In our Annual Benchmark Reports, one of the things we find time and time again is that many of the highest performing gyms and studios utilize automated billing and payment processing at a higher rate than their less successful counterpart.
Utilizing automated billing is a win-win for both the gym owner and for the gym member. For gym owners, it ensures that they get paid on time at consistent intervals. For gym members they don’t have to worry about cutting a check every month or their membership lapsing without them knowing.
When evaluating software, make sure that they have reliable payment processing partners. And make sure there aren’t hidden fees that will come back to bite you down the road.
3). On-demand Customer Service
Problems and issues are going to come up with every software, it’s inevitable and it can suck. Which is why it is essential that whatever software provider you end up going with has live, on-demand customer service that you can actually speak to. It is extremely frustrating when you encounter an issue that impacts your day-to-day operations and you have to submit a ticket and wait for hours to get assistance. It’s like being told the cable guy will come to your house between the hours of 8:00am and 8:00pm. It’s a bad customer service model.
A better model would be a proactive and friendly in-house customer support team that is just a phone call, chat or email away. Most software providers will praise the level of their customer support, so you may have to dig in a little bit to see if they walk the talk. Ask things like, “What is your average response time?” “Is your team in-house, or are they working out of a call-center half a world away?”. It is also a good idea to look at reviews on different 3rd party sites to get a bigger picture.
4). Integrated websites
Having great gym management software is one thing, but having a website that integrates directly with that software can be a game changer. In the fitness business having a website that not only looks stunning, but also has things like embedded lead forms, class schedules and proper contact info can is no longer optional. It is an essential part of running and growing your business.
Most gym owners are not webmasters in their spare time so it helps to have industry experts that know how to get leads into your gym, keep up with the latest design trends and can manage the site and digital marketing for you can be an immense help.
5). Comprehensive onboarding
Software is complex. You want to make sure that you’re not just thrown into the fire when starting out. One of the best ways to increase your odds of success when learning a new platform is having stellar onboarding. Preferably with the same onboarding coach from session to session who knows your business and can help foster your growth in using the system.
To get a better idea of what your onboarding process will be like you can ask things like “Will I work with a dedicated onboarding coach?”. “Do you record the onboarding sessions for future use?” “Is the onboarding complimentary?”. Asking questions like these will help you understand the onboarding process better and determine if it will be a good fit for you.
If you consider these factors in your software evaluations, you’ll be headed in the right direction. We’ve included more considerations for your evaluation process in the full checklist which you can access by clicking on the link below. Good luck in your search!