More and more fitness clubs are switching from antiquated billing systems driven by spreadsheets and bookkeeping software, to paperless member-management software programs, and the latest wave of solutions is web-based.
The most versatile of these programs handle the checking in and out of members, keep a complete record of member purchases and set up automated billing procedures that move money from the member’s account into the club’s account, seamlessly and in a timely fashion. They are incredibly user-friendly and accessible.
One of the key advantages of web-based software is flexibility of use and ease of collaboration. Work on your database can be done from any location that has a computer, or on a mobile device.
Unless you’re the only membership administrator in your organization, sharing tasks like following up on delinquent dues or updating member records can be tedious and time-consuming. And trying to coordinate records between users and computers in different places on different machines, runs the risk of having all of your information getting out of sync.
Online software simplifies this by letting you designate trusted admins who have the right to edit information. Thus the days of the single administrator bottleneck are over.
Another huge advantage is security. A club that keeps its’ members financial information on a server or a PC at their facility is liable for the protection of that information and their system must meet Payment Card Industry security standards, which is a costly and time consuming process. Cloud-based systems are inherently secure since they must undergo rigorous audits to preserve their PCI compliant status.
Then there is the advantage of not having to purchase new upgraded servers and software every time your client base outgrows your current equipment. With web-based software the vendor is capable of timely and flexible enhancements and customizations, instead of waiting to put out the newest version every year or so. And if you buy a system out of a box you are running the same system as everyone else, and you have no real competitive edge —and every business owner knows that in business any edge helps.
When it comes to managing internal flow of business and managing the cost of new members, managing cash flow, adhering to the legal and security environment demanded by PCI, and being able to communicate rapidly by texting or emailing members, cloud-based software has an enormous edge.
And when you are ready to make the move, be sure to find a software company that includes credit card processing services as part of their program, will listen to what you need and will personalize their software to fit your club’s style.
Patrick Craig is director of marketing and operations at MoneyMovers, Inc. in Sebastopol California. He writes a regular column, ACH Review, updating current events in the ACH / EFT industry for moneymovers.com.