Finding the Right Club Management Software Provider

At some point, growth or other factors might cause you to rethink your club management platform. Here’s what you might want to consider.

There are a number of reasons why clubs might consider changing software packages. Often, businesses can outpace the ability of a system to scale as they grow. Other common reasons include, but aren’t limited to, a user interface that’s difficult to use, too many complex features, lack of automation or features, no availability of partner software integration or branded apps, or poor vendor support.

“The two reasons I hear most often for change are clients looking for an increased level of service or for a partner who shares their long-term vision,” says Nick Hahn, vice president of product for Club OS and ASF Payment Solutions. “It’s important that the platform running your business is backed by a partner who shares your goals.”

For Jarrod Saracco, COO at World Gym International, which operates 200 franchises across six continents, switching to Club OS and ASF software was chiefly about timing and opportunity.

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Nick Hahn (left) and Jarrod Saracco (middle) announcing the Club OS/ASF partnership with World Gym at IHRSA 2021.

The pandemic-based closures provided us with an opportunity to look internally at every facet of our organization, from the top down. That included looking at everything and seeing where we could make adjustments or improvements,” he explains. “My particular focus has been on helping our gym owners and franchisees not only recover after this pandemic but thrive moving forward. We are only successful if they are successful. In order to accomplish this, everything needed to be explored, including our tech stack. I won’t say we had particular issues with our existing solution; we simply determined that we needed a change to stimulate growth, so that’s what we did.”

Meeting Key Needs

As far as functionality and other critical needs, Saracco’s laundry list wasn’t all that extensive.

“We wanted a platform that was simple and easy to use on the front lines, especially for the younger workers we see coming in,” he says. “We also required in-depth reporting, customization for our specific needs, and dedicated support.”

That latter requirement, Hahn says, “was a huge one for us. We genuinely wanted a partner in this venture.”

In that respect, communication and cooperation were cornerstones of any agreement World Gym would reach. Saracco expected that he could pick up the phone, talk to a dedicated representative, and get the answers and support he needed in real-time. The ability to customize systems based on the franchisor’s unique needs and scale quickly with its growth was also a core requirement.

“We have big plans,” Saracco asserts, “and any partner I aligned with needed to understand we’re moving at warp speed, and they better be able to keep up with that pace.”

Finally, World Gym wanted to develop an agreement that created accountability for both sides. That meant clearly defined expectations, effective communication, and a willingness to work together to fix the “bumps and bruises” that come with a new relationship and major software change. In addition, he says, it's important to do business with people with whom you feel comfortable.

Other Considerations

Any software shift means thinking in-depth about your needs and about the impact the change will have on your organization.

“Do your homework,” advises Saracco. “To be completely honest and transparent, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ software system or company. Everyone has unique needs and requirements, and that's O.K. There are tons of options, and each company has its strengths and areas that may need improvement or may not exactly fit your needs.

At the end of the day, make good business decisions based on real facts—not hearsay from competitors—and look at the relationship you build with them during the process. It's still a people business, so what makes the best business sense for you, your people, and, ultimately, your end-users? In this case, the team at Club OS/ASF and my team really seemed to work well together, and that goes a long way to building trust.”

“It is important to really understand your own needs, much like buying a house,” echoes Hahn. “What are your non-negotiables? What are things that you can live without?” But beyond features, look for someone you can partner with; someone who, as Jarrod says, will listen and respond to you.

If you don’t know what to ask, talk to your peers in the industry to get feedback and support. Ask a lot of questions. How is your data being used? Is it a Payfac compensation data and technology platform? Does it integrate with other software or is it a closed ecosystem, which can limit what your clients can do? Does it offer the reporting you need?

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Jarrod Saracco and Nick Hahn relaxing at IHRSA 2021.

Why Club OS/ASF?

The Club OS/ASF system is based on a powerful analytics platform that has been evolving since its initial release in early 2020. It’s particularly been a draw for larger operators, as its multi-location integration feature offers the capacity to drill down and report from high-level executive summaries down to regional, specific locations, and even individual employee performance numbers.

“Functions like our personal training follow-up functionality have helped our heavy PT operators to continue to increase their per-member revenue,” Hahn adds. “And having fully integrated online join and online scheduling functionality helps our smaller operators save time. Their websites can easily offer this functionality without the need for extra vendors, custom development, or manually updating schedules in multiple systems.”

Along with those functions, the Club OS/ASF platform features easy-to-use, automated analytics; personal training follow up, which helps drive PT revenue; software integration allowing clients the ability to work with other partners; audience segmentation that allows clubs to customize and automate messages and offers; embeddable online join and scheduling to save back-and-forth communication between prospects and your sales team; and a POS and inventory management solution with easy-to-use navigation so operators can save time checking out member purchases from any device while simultaneously tracking inventory—all with the tap of a finger.

“So many of the discussions we have with clients looking to switch club management software vendors start with a question: ‘How can we work more efficiently and offer our members a better experience?’ Hahn says. “Our answer is that when you integrate Club OS with ASF, you can optimize sales engagement, automate your marketing, and, most importantly, start collecting important data about your prospects and members so that you can drive revenue with the promotions that matter to and resonate with them.”

Learn more about ASF Payment Solutions’ analytics or request a free demo. To learn more about the Club OS/ASF platform in action, check out this webinar, documenting Saracco’s first 365 days at World Gym.

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Jon Feld

Jon Feld is a contributor to HealthandFitness.org.