Club Technology: Making the Most of Your CMS
Club technology, especially club management software (CMS) has always been a crucial part of health club operations. However, with occupancy limitations, contact tracing, and the usage implications and revenue fluctuations COVID-19 brought to the industry, leveraging your CMS is more important now than ever.
Before you can utilize your CMS to its fullest capabilities, your club should first assess to see if you have the right software for your needs.
“Selecting a vendor partner for your CMS is not an easy task or decision,” said Lindsey Leemis, the founder and CEO of Twist CRM Integrations. “It comes down to your club priorities and features you want to utilize. Selecting a CMS is club specific. One that works well for one club may not work well for another club, even if they have a similar number of club sites and amenities.”
Leemis breaks CMS vendors into three categories: studio, mid-level and enterprise club products. She said an example vendor for each would be MINDBODY for studios, Jonas Fitness for mid-level clubs and ABC Fitness Solutions for an enterprise CMS.
Most CMS options cover the core features such as point of sale, billing, scheduling and general club management. When selecting a CMS platform, some key features to prioritize that aren’t typically built into all platforms are integration ability and APIs, equipment management, customer relationship management and lead management.
“Switching from one CMS to another can be very time consuming, costly and painstaking,” said Tara Jensen, a marketing consultant. “So, choose one you really feel is right for your business. When you are shopping for a CMS, do your research. Vet several different companies and compare their offerings.”
Jensen echoed Leemis on making sure your club is prioritizing its needs. She recommended making a list of what your club technology needs are and finding a CMS that checks all of your most important boxes. “And of course, compare costs,” she said. “Make sure you get a quote with all of the fees so you have a whole understanding of what your costs will be. There can be start-up fees, monthly fees, transaction fees, third-party integration fees, etc. You need to know what this all adds up to.”
It’s likely your club is utilizing the majority of the built-in features to your CMS. However, many times clubs don’t look for a seamless vendor partner that could add value and address a pain point in their member’s experience.
The coronavirus pandemic revealed the importance of having a great partner. When regulations were added to gyms, many CMS vendors stepped up to the plate and offered built-in solutions to stay compliant with regulations.
“One of the added features I saw most frequently used is a capacity tracker to show if club access is available to members to stay below a percentage of occupancy,” said Leemis. “Another example is temperature checks that are automatically logged into the CMS. Lastly, the addition of live-streaming classes, video on-demand and more self-service technologies — such as self-service front desk scan in.”
Another way CMS platforms served clubs through the pandemic was by holding webinars and online sessions on the impacts of COVID-19 on the industry. The presentations often touched on how the software can help clubs through difficult times.
Jensen said utilizing these resources and reaching out to your support team is vital to find out what software enhancements they are pushing out to help clubs during difficult times. “Ask what best practices they are seeing from other clubs that use their software,” she said. “Pull reports and analyze the data. By having a strong understanding of what is happening in your facility right now, you can make better decisions. We can no longer say, ‘Well last year we did this,’ and do the same thing. Take a good look — through the eyes of the reports — and see what is happening.”
In fact, analyzing reports is more important than ever. Jensen said hand-picking a few key reports for each manager to look at on a regular basis will help departments run more effectively. It is key for all department managers to know how to access reports and what to look for. Making key reports easily available to staff will allow them to have a greater understanding of their areas, and will allow them to focus on KPIs specific to them.
Utilizing reports and adding helpful features to your CMS that best serve you can help you have a better understanding of what’s going on in your club. And, while the pandemic has been extremely challenging, the silver lining is it has shown the importance of club technology and CMS.
“COVID-19 has brought along an interesting opportunity to evaluate our club technology stack and audit what is working for our clubs and what isn’t,” said Leemis. “It also has helped clubs prioritize continual digital transformation to stay up to date. Lastly, COVID-19 has also provided us a chance to more closely align with our members while they visit the club and interact with us on digital platforms outside of our four walls.”