Is It Time for a Club CRM System?

You might think that a CRM system isn’t for a business your size, but the fact is that most businesses with 10 or more employees use them.

If you’re missing opportunities, not accurately processing leads, or are unable to get the data you need to quickly make sales and marketing decisions, a CRM system may be right for you.

Drilling down a bit deeper, Daron Allen, CEO at VFPnext, surfaces some core issues that tell you it might be time to get a professional CRM system.

“If you’re following up with your leads via pen and paper or spreadsheets, it is highly likely your marketing ROI is much lower than it should be,” he says. “In today’s sales environment, it is imperative that no leads slip through the cracks and float on paper or get stranded in a spreadsheet file.”

There are also legal and regulatory issues. To ensure that you are using text messaging in a safe and secure way, using a CRM system that is fully compliant with all state rules and regulations keeps you on the right side of the law. The potential risks of having employees communicate with prospects and members outside of a compliant CRM are enormous, adds Allen.

Speed to first contact for every lead is critical. Various studies have shown that the rates of conversion for new leads dramatically decrease for every minute in which the lead is not contacted. Having a CRM with various automations—including “instant phone connect,” text messaging, and emails—has the power to streamline your omnichannel marketing efforts and boost conversion rates.

Technology Is It Time for a Club CRM System club automation man on computer limited use column

Engagement and Retention

While we tend to think about CRM as a “management system,” its chief function is fostering engagement and retention.

“Engaging clients is critical for growth and retention,” says Nick Thornton, vice president of sales at Club Automation. “The challenge many clubs have is how to get organized to deliver a consistent and relevant strategy in reaching new and existing members. Think of the many ways a member may be reaching out to a club: online forms, calling or emailing the club, coming to the front desk, submitting a review online, or even filling out a survey. I’m sure there are many more. The point is, CRM can automate all these touchpoints, allowing you to engage the client where and when they want to be engaged.”

Among the most valuable aspects of a CRM, especially in terms of consistent engagement, is that it automates follow-up. And the worst thing you can do, says Thornton, is not follow up with a member. If your process is sticky notes at the front desk, it’s likely that follow-up will fall through the cracks.

Thornton has a personal story relating to the issue.

“A few years ago, I became an avid cyclist and runner and decided to do a triathlon,” he says. “I knew I needed training, so I went to a local club and asked the front desk if they offered advanced swimming lessons. They quickly informed me of a coach that would be a good fit. The front desk staff literally wrote my information on a sticky note. I never got a call back from the club. In fact, I never did the triathlon. If the club had had a solid CRM process that simply schedules new member onboarding, that contact would have gone beyond the sticky note stage. That first engagement alone could be the difference between a long-term membership or a lost opportunity.”

In addition to bolstering engagement, through having a clear picture of where your member is—from onboarding to programs taken, re-upping, and more—the right CRM works to strengthen retention.

“The key to winning in our industry is increasing member retention,” Allen says. “In that respect, having a 360-degree view of the entire lifecycle of every member is key. Once a member joins your club, moving this ‘treasured’ new member through various stages from this initial commitment through immersion, connection, and finally into advocacy has never been more important. Each of these stages, along with many various substages, requires key actions needed to facilitate the process of long-term retention. Having a CRM automate as many of these touchpoints in the member journey as possible increases the value of each member.”

As far as those touchpoints go and reaching members along their journeys, Allen points to some crucial core CRM functions:

  • Infusing every member into personal training, small group training, or group fitness experiences to drive revenue.

  • Driving upgrades.

  • Renewing payment information files and short-term memberships.

  • Term membership renewal notices.

  • Insurance-type membership follow-up (maximize check-ins and referrals).

  • Pending cancel saves.

  • Canceled member win-back.

  • Past due billing follow-up and credit card updating.

  • Billing conversions from credit card to ACH.

Technology Is It Time for a Club CRM System club automation woman with iphone limited use column

Building on Key Functionalities

Among the most important jobs of the CRM is to facilitate outreach along those member touchpoints. To that end, VFPnext offers several important features, including hot lead notification, which connects clubs to new leads in under 60 seconds; robust triggers for lead-through-member journey communication; the ability to track calls made through the system; double protection for SMS and email opt-in/opt-out protocols; full service in setup, design; and implementation; and more.

“Most important,” Allen says, “Your CRM should facilitate automated communication for every status update your leads and members experience. In addition to this automation, your CRM should constantly alert your staff when to reach out. The most successful timing of these staff prompts in coordination with automation is a winning formula. And that’s what we offer at VFPnext.”

To learn more, visit Club Automation and VFPnext.

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Jon Feld

Jon Feld is a contributor to