Choosing the right club management software is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as an owner. Whether you run a single-location Muay Thai studio or a multi-site full-service gym, controlling costs, managing employees, and tracking clients are the cornerstones to your success. If you don’t know how much money you’re spending – or making – then your very job is at risk.
Ironically, many fitness companies who sign-up with well-known, heavily-advertised gym software products are forced into that very position. Like a wrestler flat on the mat, they concede control of their business to a third party by signing contracts without fully understanding the agreement. The result? They take completely unexpected risks.
Nearly all gym management software is designed, built, and sold by billing companies – not health club specialists. Because of this, they’ve mastered the art of hidden fees. When evaluating software, watch out for these common extra costs:
• Merchant Accounts – The software company takes a percentage of every sale you make, either by forcing you to choose from their list of merchant providers, which offer higher rates, or by acting as the processor itself. The software system is tied into the company that processes your payments – imagine if you were buying a car and the dealership told you that you had to choose their finance company at 10 percent when you qualify for a much lower percentage with any other bank.
• Features & App Fees – Just because a company promises a fully automated experience does not mean every service is included in the base monthly fee. Instead, separate costs are often tucked into member use of online calendars, online membership sign-up portals, unexpected tech support requests, and external app use.
• Delinquent or Rejected Payments – These billing companies often impose a delinquent late fee, keeping a percentage if collected. Additionally, when a card or payment is declined, a normal cost is about 30 cents, but some companies are known to charge upwards of a few dollars.
• Unlimited Users – How many users may have access to the system and are they able to log in at the same time? Some companies’ monthly agreements restrict the number of users, allowing only one to be logged into the system at a time.
Steve Jobs once said most product problems stem from bad design, and the same can be said for gym management software. Third-party software integration, clumsy report generation, and complex on boarding all lead to more headaches for owners and less time to do what you love.
• 24/7 Access – Ask about who controls your door system – you might be surprised at the answer. Most gym software companies do not manage their own door access systems. Instead, they outsource the software to third-party companies, whose systems experience a 20-percent failure rate due to the complexity of integrating their door-system software into your gym software. Text messaging and calendar software are also commonly subcontracted programs – a practice that can make managing marketing and training employees more complicated and expensive.
• Controlling Information – How easy is it to change member information in your system? Some companies require near complete control, turning you into a de facto employee – even refunding a customer requires a call to the software company.
• Retrieving Reports – How much access do you have to your daily numbers, or current monthly dues? Can you deep dive into every transaction every day and know exactly how much money your company has brought in at any time?
• Member Data – Sometimes relationships don’t work out. If you leave your membership sales software company, can you keep your data, including payment information? As bizarre as it sounds, some companies place digital handcuffs on their clients by not releasing encrypted payment information, or through charging an extraordinarily high penalty for record retrieval.
• Transparent Reports – Gym software companies whose systems are entwined into your payment processes prefer you not know how much they’re taking each month, which is one of the reasons drilling down to specific transactions can be very difficult for the average gym owner. This opaque approach to management may not hurt you right away, but in the long run it opens you up to a systemic company-killer – employee theft, as staff quickly learn you can’t access every detail of every transaction.
So how much is that $99 software management fee really costing you? In today’s business culture where so much of our data comes through the Internet — and much of that bought and sold by the very companies we are researching — it can be remarkably difficult to make good decisions. To help clarify pricing, we’ve built an easy to use pricing calculator that compares the most common pricing around the industry; you can try it by clicking on this link.
Yet, a lot is riding on that choice. Most gym owners are handcuffed to their businesses, unable to leave often, vacation, grow locations, or cede control as it is too difficult to run the management side and too challenging and/or complicated for most employees to assume responsibility.
So Here’s Our Elevator Speech
Gym Insight’s software is built by gym owners for gym owners. We use no third-party integrators – every piece of software running on our system is built by our programmers. You choose your merchant provider and our software links to it – nothing more, nothing less. All reports are transparent, drill-down is uncomplicated, and we are constantly improving and adding services, such as paperless document design, iPad and tablet sign-in technology, and user-friendly calendar sign-up designs.
Most importantly, our fee is completely transparent. You pay one monthly rate based on the number of members, and everything else is yours to keep. No hidden fees. No games. No silliness. Just good software that runs well, every day.