How to Understand the Buying Process Before You Buy
When management at Mountainside Fitness in Arizona began looking for new club management software (CMS) to manage many of its facilities’ functions, it took its time in its search.
“While we were always open to talking to providers, we seriously looked for about two years,” recalled Robyn Klawitter, the VP of operations for Mountainside Fitness. “We were very thorough in our search and looked at so many we lost count along the way. There are a lot of great companies out there with great features. It was a large feat.”
To narrow its search, Klawitter explained that Mountainside looked at CMS providers with a specific function — namely, it wanted a CMS capable of hosting data that could be customized into specific reports. “We were most interested in hosting our own data so we could create customized reports and drill down the details that are important to our specific business,” explained Klawitter.
Two years ago, Mountainside Fitness decided on CSI due to its ability to provide Mountainside with the report customization it desired, such as reports on non-dues revenue. “When it comes to reports, we are of the thought that more is better,” said Klawitter. “One specific report that we needed was EFT generated from rock wall memberships, another was tanning memberships and a third was for a specific kids program called Kids In Motion. It was very important to us to be able to zoom in on individual membership add-ons to determine the efficacy of our efforts.”
Previously, Mountainside Fitness had relied on Aphelion as its CMS. “With the data transfer from Aphelion to CSI, many of our add-on products got rolled in to membership dues,” detailed Klawitter. “These custom reports aided us in rectifying that as well.”
According to Jason Love, the director of information technology for The Houstonian in Houston, Texas, The Houstonian had searched for two years for a new CMS before deciding on CSI.
After sending out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to the industry, Love explained that The Houstonian narrowed the CMS search down to three providers. Those providers then came to The Houstonian and gave demos to the club’s various departments (along with being a club, The Houstonian has a hotel and country club as well). The search was narrowed based on a CMS’s ability to interface with the management systems that run the hotel and spa sections of the club.
“We needed a CMS that could interface with our hotel and spa management systems,” explained Love. “CSI offered this and also had a great depth of knowledge of the fitness industry.”
Whether you’re looking to switch CMS or are purchasing a management system for the first time, Klawitter said the moral of the story is — take your time in your decision.
“This isn’t something to do on a whim or rush in to,” said Klawitter. “When you find something you think you like, take it on a seriously in-depth test drive. Ask them to show you demos using your data. See how your current data converts to their system and ask lots and lots of questions. Finally, bring your entire team in on the process. Make sure it works equally well for all departments. You will regret making a choice that makes a process easier for some and harder for others.”
Love agreed. “Enter into a management software purchase carefully, because you’re getting married to it,” he said.