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by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: July 21, 2016


No matter what kind of club you’re running or how many members you have, it’s always a good idea to consider implementing a club management system. Small, big, public and private associations all share the same two goals: providing a great member experience and operating as efficiently as possible. Software can help you achieve those goals.

Club management solutions for membership-based organizations automate marketing campaigns, take care of class scheduling and coordinate events while also handling customer data and payment processing. These systems are popular with health and fitness clubs, campus recreation centers, sports clubs, private education centers and parks.

This guide has been created to help users find the best solution for their business needs. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Club Management Software?
Common Functionality of Club Management Software
Benefits of Club Management Software
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Pricing: Cloud-Based vs. On-Premise

What Is Club Management Software? 

Club management software, also known as “membership software” or “association management software,” offers tools that help clubs and associations promote themselves and provide better services to their members.

Common capabilities of this software include:

  • Member records management
  • Billing
  • Scheduling
  • Marketing and promotion tools

Some organizations use manual methods or basic software programs, such as Google Drive or Microsoft Excel, to perform these functions. If that sounds like your club, you may be wondering if it’s worth it to buy dedicated software instead. The answer is almost always yes. There are many solutions in the market that are specifically designed to meet your unique needs. Clubs that are scaling at a rapid pace or expanding their service offerings can especially benefit from club management systems thanks to the functionalities we’ve described in the next section of this article.

Common Functionality of Club Management Software

The following capabilities are common to most club management systems:

Membership management Allows users to store and edit member records, search member databases and upgrade or downgrade memberships.
Scheduling Lets members and staff search, book and reschedule classes and appointments. Some systems allow members to share schedules on social media.
Marketing and promotions Allows users to award points and credits through loyalty programs, offer gift cards and discounts and send automated emails, text messages and social media notifications to current and prospective members.
Payment processing Lets users accept payments for memberships and fees via cash, credit card, online form, direct debit or wire transfer.
Member forums Offers online communities where members can have discussions, share files and network with each other.
Member access Facilitates member check-ins and check-outs using biometric or barcode scanning.
Reporting Allows users to run reports on business trends, monthly sales, inventory and member retention and attendance.
Reservations management Enables employees to make member reservations (e.g., for country club restaurants or health club spas). Some systems also allow you to create a waiting list in case there are any cancelled appointments.
Staff timekeeping Organizes employees’ timesheets and work schedules.

Benefits of Club Management Software

Administrators can realize a great deal of benefits after adopting club management software, including:

More opportunities to grow revenue. Thanks to the marketing and promotions features we described above, your club is in a better position to attract more members and incentivize existing members to use your services, classes or facilities.

Less time spent on administrative tasks. Software reduces the amount of time employees spend on repetitive and mundane tasks, such as manually entering data. This makes them free to focus on more productive and important initiatives.

Improved data security. Associations typically store a great deal of member information, including their address, credit card account data and phone number. Storing this sensitive information in paper records makes it vulnerable to theft or loss. Many club management systems offer encryption and other security features to ensure your data is safe yet accessible.

Greater integration among applications. Some organizations are already using software, but the problem is they’re using too many separate systems that don’t integrate with one another. Dedicated software lets you streamline all the applications you need into one single system. This eliminates the need for duplicate data entry and makes it easier to generate comprehensive reports on your club’s key performance indicators.

Better member experiences. Online portals and forums allow members to engage with peers at any time of day. These expanded opportunities to make connections enrich their experience with your club, increasing their satisfaction and making them more likely to keep their membership year after year.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

This market offers solutions for niche business segments. Consider one of these products if your club or membership is among the following:

Gyms and health clubs. A number of solutions cater specifically to the gym and health club segment. In addition to the capabilities listed above, these typically offer functionality for online training lessons, workout plan creation and managing health (e.g., body mass index and diet charts).

Sports clubs. These systems have functionality geared toward coaches, players and games. Key tools include roster creation, online player registration, player scheduling and availability, game scheduling and equipment payment tracking. Some vendors even go a step further and offer solutions designed for a particular sport.

Educational institution clubs. Managing university alumni or booster clubs (e.g., for school sports teams) can be easier with tools that streamline member communications, such as online forums and mass emailing capabilities.

Country clubs. Country clubs often have many services and facilities that need to be managed, including restaurants, golf courses and restaurants. The right system can streamline operations for every part of a private club to make sure everything's running smoothly.

Pricing: Cloud-Based vs. On-Premise

There are two popular pricing models in the market. Select the one that gives you the best return on your investment.

Cloud-based software. As in other software markets, cloud-based club management solutions are gaining popularity among users. These solutions come with a low upfront investment and are typically priced on a monthly or annual subscription basis. Maintenance and updates are handled by the vendor.

On-premise software. The software is housed on the buyer’s own servers. It is typically priced under a perpetual license, which requires paying a substantial upfront fee, but comes with no recurring license costs. However, users may have to pay additional fees for upgrades, customizations, support and maintenance.

Notably, costs for both types of software tend to converge over time.

 

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