How to Choose the Right Club Management Software
Your membership is growing, you’ve added employees and trainers to your staff, and now, you need a better way to keep track of profits, and you want to make improvements as efficiently as possible. Or maybe you’re just ready for a change. Either way, you need a new club management software (CMS). But, where to begin? How do you choose the right CMS for your club?
There are several essential questions to consider. Before even approaching those, however, there’s a crucial first step: analysis. Analyze your business’s particular needs: Is your facility brand new? Is it well-established, but with an outdated management system? Have there been recent changes in membership, staffing, or programming? Starting with these big questions will help you work your way to the smaller ones, the ones whose answers tell you what, on a day-to-day basis, is lacking in your facility, or not working as well as it could, or holding you back in some way — ultimately, what holes your software needs to fill.
Then, consider the following:
Do you want web-based software? These days, everyone is on-the-move, all the time. If you anticipate needing access to your software from wherever you are, then the answer to this question is “yes,” absolutely. Web-based also has advantages over on-site, because it’s less generic and more dynamic, with easy updates that contain new features and the ability to grow as you do.
What specific features do you require? Your analysis of business needs will come in particularly handy here, and “specific” is the key word. Does the software you’re considering have strong membership features, and are those important to you? Have you recently expanded your schedule, and are you therefore looking for excellent scheduling features? Are the administrative functions right for you? Are the reports detailed enough to meet your needs (and clear, concise, and easy enough to understand)?
How much training will you and your employees need? Be sure to ask about ongoing training services, as you don’t want to choose software that leaves you high and dry once you’ve implemented it. Look into fees: will the company charge extra for training services down the road, or is training included for free?
What is the level of support provided? Support might be one of the most important aspects to consider — after all, the best software package in the world won’t do you any good if something goes wrong and there’s no one there to help. Ask whether you’ll get to speak with a live person when you have an issue. What are the hours of support? How much time does it take to get a response to an issue? Ideally, you want to pick up your phone whenever an issue arises and speak with an actual human being — maybe even the same one you’ve spoken with several times before. Find out if this will be the case (and, as with training, find out whether or not there will be a fee).
Does the software seamlessly integrate with other products? If the answer is no, choose something else. To ensure efficiency, you’ll need something that integrates with products you may already be using, such as QuickBooks, and also with leading CRM, lead-nurturing, customer loyalty and referral systems. You may not be ready yet for some of those third-party tools, but you’ll want them to be compatible when you are.
Can the company supply you with your own mobile app to provide to members? This one is a no-brainer. These days, there truly is an app for everything. If your business doesn’t have one, that means members cannot view your schedule and book into classes or sessions directly from their devices, and they’re going to start looking elsewhere. Make sure the answer to this one is “yes.”
Finally, try to imagine where you want your business to be five or ten years down the road. The software you’re considering should suit your needs at those points in the future and beyond. Whichever one you end up with, you’ll want it to grow with you.
Hugh McEvoy is the director of sales and operations for EZFacility. He can be contacted at 516.336.6527, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.