Great software will help your business grow. However, finding great software is never easy. Here are some key features to look for when selecting outstanding software for your fitness facility:
Internet-based versus PC-based Software Systems
There are two types of software systems: PC-based and internet-based. A PC-based system means that the software has to be physically loaded onto your computer. If other computers need to use the software, they will also have to have the software installed. Costly networks will have to be setup for the computers to communicate with each other. The other type of system is an internet-based system, which has the software loaded with a hosting company. You can access the system from any computer with an internet browser. Multiple computers from your facility can easily access information securely without complicated and costly networking configurations. Information can also be accessed securely outside the facility. All in all, an internet-based system gives you the most flexibility in accessing information securely and easily from multiple computers.
The next important question to ask is: Does this software handle basic core functionality for your facility? This will include: tracking and recording member information; tracking and recording memberships; an easy-to-use check-in system (laser scanner with bar-coded key tags), Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) for billing, and some reports to view information from the system. Having this minimum functionality would provide you with an adequate software system.
Great Additional Functions
Great software will have additional functions such as personal training, scheduling, and fitness assessments. Personal training functions will contribute to the growth of your training program by making it more effective and efficient since money is often lost by not tracking training sessions correctly. Scheduling is always important for a facility and having a software system with a scheduling component is extremely useful. Look for one that ties into the training system and keeps track of training sessions and classes. Fitness assessments are a great way to generate revenue and to create an environment that keeps members at your facility. Look for software that records measurements such as body fat percentage, BMI, VO2, heart rate, body weight, waist, and blood pressure. All of these functions will make your facility more efficient.
Internet Access for Members
Software that enables members to remotely access their personal information is quite useful to have in a software program. Members will feel more connected to your facility when they are able to remotely view items such as upcoming training sessions, past training sessions, classes and assessment results from their homes. These types of services can also be sold to your members, to generate additional revenue. These services, only available in an internet-based system, will increase your member retention rate.
Internet Access for Trainers
As with member access, another great feature to have is the ability for trainers to remotely access their personal information. Important and useful features would include the ability for a trainer to view their training schedule and weekly training totals. Trainers should be able to post weekly workouts, as well as useful tips and reminders to members, who, in turn, could access this information remotely. These great services, also available only in an internet-based system, will improve the trainer and member relationship, resulting in additional revenue for both the trainer and facility.
You might have an idea for a function or report that would be useful for your facility, but it just isn’t available in your software system. For example, you might have multiple facilities and want a report that will show you the monthly revenue and check-in activity to reflect activity of all of your facilities. For this reason, it is extremely important to ask your software vendor if they will provide you with customized solutions. Can their software be modified to meet your needs?
In closing, a great software system will allow you, your staff, and your business, to operate more efficiently and effectively. Additionally, services such as member Web access, trainer Web access, and fitness assessments, will generate more revenue through sales of these services and through member retention. Great software is an important and necessary component in helping your facility to be prosperous.