Efficient Systems For Managing Your Members

Running a business in the health industry can feel like a bit of a juggling act. You need to simultaneously manage member retention, acquisition, marketing, staff, training, retail, cleanliness, maintenance, keeping up with industry trends, and more reporting than you ever thought possible.

All the while you need to be watching your costs, and keeping an eye on your competitors so that you stay on top of your game. Using some technology to assist you with all of these tasks seems like a good investment, right? But how do you decide which system is right for you and your business? Well we’ve done the legwork for you and asked several companies how they can help you run your club more efficiently.

But first, a quick overview of what the majority of these systems would offer you.

  • Access – turnstile access, tickets, membership cards, logging of staff hours, staff training requirements
  • Point of sale – entry to the club, food and beverage sales, stock control, retail sales, prospect management
  • Reporting – automated letters/SMS/emails, revenue forecasts, any KPI you wish to monitor
  • Bookings – check timetables, book into classes, arrange PT sessions, reserve a spot in the crèche, join or pay membership fees.

For the member, most of the processes will go unnoticed as they make the most of the facilities. The queue to get into the club will be shorter; direct debits will come out of a member’s account promptly; receptionists won’t be stuck on the telephone while a member waits to purchase a drink; a parent won’t miss out on a spot in the crèche as they were able to book online; classes won’t be overbooked, as the club is managing attendance numbers and scheduling classes accordingly.

Most software companies offer a fully tailored solution, so you can include the functions you need and remove those you don’t. And with options of monthly rental or outright purchase, there is a solution to suit most budgets. Plus, most often software upgrades are included for free if you are renting the system.

So, what sets each of the providers apart? We spoke with the following leading companies to find out.

TRESHNA (www.treshna.com/gym)
Treshna Enterprises’s GymMaster software has been involved in the fitness industry for over a decade and provides a wide range of services to a client base that ranges from individual personal trainers to multi-site chains. With between 35% and 40% of the market share in New Zealand, Treshna has been focusing on bringing the benefits of the software to Australia since 2011.

What’s new or different about your product?

We have a number of new franchise models for clients to choose from. With increasing interest from the multi-site market we are now able to offer a number of custom options to our clients so that they can pick which model best meets their budget and functional requirements.

What sort of business are you most suited to?

The majority of our customers are single site, large multi-discipline fitness facilities, or small to mid size chains that require door access control, sophisticated campaigning and messaging capabilities and want to use a web booking tool. We do particularly well in this market as we offer many custom solutions.

In saying this we also have many smaller businesses and PT’s using our economical solutions of the ‘Mini’ and ‘Standard’ which still offer a large range of features. As their businesses don’t have the complexities of a larger operation we can offer a low cost solution with integrated PCI compliant direct debit billing.

What sets you apart from other providers?

We offer a fully integrated combination of hardware, web prospect management and server solutions. Our clients also have the freedom to make changes as and when they require rather than being restricted to an off the shelf solution.

What advice do you have for someone considering a member management system?

Before you start downloading demos and surfing the net, sit down and brainstorm a list of what you would like to be able to achieve with your member management system. Then use this as a rating sheet comparing different packages. Remember to include items such as the type of support provided, training available, contract fine-print etc. It keeps the search objective and ensures the right solution is found for your business at the end of the day.

“The GymMaster software is a package that meets our multi-site needs, through its prospect and current member management, as well as the POS and reporting capabilities. In addition it has provided us some great flexibility with meeting our weekly billing needs.” – Con, Lifestyle Fitness, Sydney.

PLATYPUS (www.ezemember.info)
Based in Brisbane, Platypus has been operating for the past 30 years, 19 years of which have been in the fitness industry. EZeMember is currently used by a range of clients from PT studios all the way up to multi-site gyms. According to Margaret Hutley, Sales and Marketing Director at Platypus, their niche is gyms or smaller chains.

Why should a club use member management?

There are many benefits to installing a system, an obvious one is control. We have had several customers say to us that once they have installed our EZeMember system they have discovered members using the facilities who are unfinancial (some for considerable amounts of time). Also it reduces administration time through the automated processes, freeing up staff to focus on the most important aspects of their business – their members.

What differentiates you from other providers?

We allow choice. Some software providers force the centre to use their direct debit providers. We have direct integration with payment providers, or a centre can very easily manage their own. We listen to our customers and implement customer requests in future versions. We also have a high level of customer after sales support. We offer different purchase methods, allowing a choice of subscription basis, purchase outright or use a payment plan.

Our commitment to our customers is reflected in our high service levels. Our 19 years’ experience in this industry enables us to relate to our customers and understand their needs, such as incorporating their requests into future versions of the software. As the developers, customers enjoy a speedy turnaround on requests and helpdesk support. We can provide a list of reference sites that a prospect can contact to discuss our EZeMember software and the level of after sales support.

What recommendations do you have for someone considering a member management system?

Don’t just look at price, look at the customer service level you are receiving prior to the sale and check testimonials. Check that there is a willingness to listen to customers’ feature requests for inclusion in future versions. Make sure you have a choice in how you want to manage your business – be it through payment method and payment providers, or the option of whether to have cloud access or not.

“EzeMember has been a huge factor in the success of our gym since we first installed the program 18 years ago.” – Alan Mead, Brisbane Fitness and Aquatic Centre.

Gumnut Systems International (www.gumnuts.com)
20 years of experience in providing member management systems globally, including the likes of Virgin Group in the UK and Pharaoh’s Club in Dubai, gave Gumnuts some solid fitness experience before marketing these systems to Australia in 1993. Gumnuts CEO Nedim Aydogdu says as well as this, they are taking their years of experience with multi-site operations like spas and wellness centres (such as Endota in Australia) and producing a system that is completely flexible and scalable to Australian fitness centres and PT studios.

How do you differ from other providers?

Definitely the support. A lot of other companies say they are 24/7 but then charge you extra for calling outside of business hours or emailing them. Business hours for a gym can be 6am to 10pm including weekends and so we offer true 24/7 support from our global help desk in Manila. There is always someone to take your call and there are no hidden costs. You can even Skype the help desk. As well, we don’t take commissions off your direct debits or web bookings like some other companies do.

What’s new or different about your product?

While we are used to working with multiple sites, we can also work with individuals. With Gumnuts clients can book sessions, purchase a gift voucher online or from their mobile app, and PT’s can use their iPads to access their bookings and process member information from a park or their studio.

What else can your system do?

Stock control, retail sales, staff management with various commission structures, and marketing with emails and two way SMS – so you can send out appointment reminders and marketing messages and the member can respond.

“This system is a win-win for all; my staff love it, my members receive great service and it directly affects my ability to increase the bottom line. In all areas Links exceeds my expectations.” – Nigel Sonter, Five Star Fitness Port Macquarie.

Links Modular Solutions (www.linksmodularsolutions.com)
Designed by experts in the leisure industry, Links Modular Solutions has developed business tools that are shaping the way that the industry operates. We spoke to Don Hartley, Managing Director of Links, who stated ‘As the market leader in Australia, clubs are choosing to change from other software products because of the ease of use of the product and its ever-expanding features.’ Links is an Australian company that has been operating since 1999. They have many well-known clients including Genesis Health Clubs in Queensland, Recreation Health Clubs, and YMCA Australia.

What sets you apart from the competition?

Links Modular Solutions is a software program written in Australia for the Australian and New Zealand markets. Australia’s needs are unique in the world and as such we produce a product with a wide variety of functions to address those needs. In short, Links provides a total turnkey solution for leisure facilities and fitness clubs.

What’s new or different about your software?

Links is currently just about to release our new members web program called Active Carrot. Active Carrot allows for customers to purchase memberships, create an account, book and pay for appointments, casual workout etc, check their workout schedules and fitness assessment details, purchase product from the club, view attendance records and so much more.

The Kiosk module of Links provides a virtual customer service agent, allowing for sales of casual entries, visit passes and memberships as well as class bookings and PT check-in.

How many centres currently use your system in Australia?

Links is the market leader in Australia – there are currently in excess of 800 facilities using our system in Australia alone. It is constantly growing, with over 100 clubs joining in the last 12 months.

What advice do you have for someone considering a member management system?

Make sure you do your research! Providers should be able to provide a demonstration of the software, and don’t be afraid to ask questions relating to your own experiences in facilities, from both the management and member point of view. And don’t focus only on the present. You need to ensure that your software provider is growing with the industry. So be sure to ask what the future developments of the software are, and how are they going to help you achieve more in your business for you and your members.

“Centaman has enabled us to have a single system that integrates all of the centre’s needs from front of house admissions to membership marketing in an integrated solution.” – Dan Skakavac, Sydney Olympic Aquatic and Athletic Centre

CENTAMAN (www.centaman.com)
Centaman is a complete solution for managing a fitness centre. The software is built around best practice processes and designed in conjunction with industry experts to provide a wide range of functionality. The system allows operators to have a fully integrated system from the front desk right through to key back office and administrative functions. Mike Henton, Marketing Manager at Centaman, says that the system is ideal for medium to large gyms.  It’s the local presence that Henton believes gives Centaman the edge – they’ve been operating in Australia for the past 21 years, with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

What’s new or different about your software?

We are excited to introduce retention-focused modules to the Centaman suite of products. Current users of the solution are seeing as much as 60% increase in retentions across their membership. Designed to drive retention and modify customer behaviour to grow the membership base and create happy loyal customers who promote your facility.  We also offer kiosk technologies and can run integrated email and SMS marketing campaigns.

When it comes to implementation have you got any insights for us?

Allow sufficient time for the project, don’t ask for it to be installed and working within a week. That much change in one week will cause headaches for months to come. Instead work with your vendor to build a workable timeline, some vendors require as much as ten weeks from purchase order to ‘go live’.

Any words of advice to someone shopping around for a new system?

Be willing to go over your budget to get what you need, even if this means waiting for a few more months. Choosing a package simply because it fits your budget will result in much more time and effort spent down the track and eventually (probably much sooner than you would like) you will be forced to look for another solution to meet your needs.

Article written by Lee Price for What’s New In Fitness Magazine – Autumn 2013 edition.


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