Business

Picking the best management software for your fitness studio

Vaishwi Sinha

Running a fitness club is more than investing in gear, staff, and property. There is a lot of backend administration that is required to keep the business running.

Not to mention, customers today want the freedom to choose payment plans, durations, classes, trainers, and more.

To deliver on all those fronts, you need a really good fitness studio management system, and choosing the perfect one starts with understanding the features you need.

Consider the pointers in this blog as qualifying criteria to push your shortlisted software down the funnel.

Then, test those against the next listed point to shortlist further and so on unless you find your perfect software.

What you should look for in a fitness studio management software

Here are the features you want the fitness studio management software you choose to have:

Business type

The first thing to look for is a tool designed specifically for fitness studios. There are a lot of scheduling tools in the market that claim to offer more than just that, but most of them fail when it comes to actually performing.

Then, there are those companies that will try to sell you the same solutions that they’d sell a spa or a salon. Considering how vastly different those businesses are from each other and from a fitness studio, you’d be settling for an incompetent tool if you buy into that pitch.

For example, the solutions offered by companies like Glofox and WellnessLiving are great for things like booking group classes. Vagaro and Fresha make tools that are efficient for managing bookings, while Zenplanner and Pushpress are at their core membership management tools.

When you settle for a compromise instead of choosing a company that can actually do it all, day-to-day operations become difficult, your customers have inconsistent experiences with your brand, and as a result, the growth trajectory of your business slows down drastically.

Shortlist the software that match your business needs.

Features

Here are our picks of features we feel the management system for a fitness business should have. However, shortlist these based on your business model, and categorize them as Must Have, Good to Have, and Not Applicable as you see fit.

Operations

Having these features on your fitness studio management system will make day-to-day operations more efficient and easier.

Scheduling
  • The tool should allow for classes to be scheduled, including individual sessions and group sessions.
  • You should be able to manage multiple time slots and instructors under a single schedule.
  • It should have the capability to manage waitlists in case of too many bookings, and accommodate customers as bookings open up.
  • It should allow you to offer and schedule bundles of classes as a package.
Appointments
  • The software should enable creating long-term appointments in advance while automating aspects like reminders and scheduling.
  • Customers should be able to book facilities virtually and have it reflected on your tool.
  • Customers ought to be able to view the availability of trainers and book classes accordingly, without having to double-check availability.
Subscriptions
  • Fitness businesses work largely on subscription models, and offering your customers control over their subscriptions is essential to the success of your business.
  • Customers should be able to pause their subscriptions and resume them at a later date according to their convenience without having to pay for the days they did not use your facilities.
  • Canceling subscriptions either at the end of their life cycle or on demand should be an easy process.
Credit packs
  • Your customers should be able to buy credit packs and redeem them against classes or sessions at their convenience.
  • The management software should allow you to track the use of credits real-time, and set up recharge reminders.
  • Management of cancellations and refunds from credit packs should be seamless and quick, reflecting immediately on the customer’s available balance.
Trial packs
  • The fitness studio management system should have the facility for you to create and track the usage of trial packs to attract new customers.
Sales and payments
  • The management software should enable front-end and back-end sales, including memberships, courses, merchandise, and more.
  • It should have the flexibility to accommodate changes in subscription plans, issue immediate refunds to customers and write off amounts if necessary.
  • It should recognize and redeem discount codes created by the business to aid marketing. You should also be able to program specific items on which discounts apply, and the system should recognize these discounts at the time of purchase.
  • Customers should be able to easily purchase and redeem gift cards on courses, facilities or merchandise from your studio, with the value on the cards acting as a balance on a prepaid account.
Client communication
  • The studio management system you choose should allow for integrations with third-party solutions in order for you to plan and automate email campaigns, push notifications, SMS messaging, and more from a single dashboard.
Retail products
  • Merchandise and retail products are a huge stream of revenue for businesses. Your fitness studio management software should enable POS and online sales of these products, including recognizing product variants and tracking inventory.
E-sign documents
  • Whether it is an agreement for a subscription plan, a contract with a vendor or an employment agreement, the software solution ought to enable the e-signing of documents by all parties involved, even if a customer is choosing to book a service or pay for a subscription online.
Payroll management
  • Not all your staff need to be full-time employees. For example, trainers are most often freelancers and charge per session or appointment. Your fitness studio management tool ought to be able to track payments to these resources.
  • You should be able to automate the calculation of monthly salaries for all full-time employees, including the distribution of tips, bonuses and expense reimbursements.
Video on demand or live streaming
  • The management software ought to either feature an embedded video-on-demand facility on your customer website or support the integration of a third-party solution.
  • Integration with a streaming facility like Zoom is necessary to be able to live-stream classes for online subscribers.
  • This will allow you to offer video-on-demand bundles as a part of your regular pricing options.
Productivity
  • The studio management software you invest in ought to have task management capabilities, including allowing you to assign tasks to resources and track their progress.
  • An integration with Google calendar will allow you to easily set up reminders and meetings.
Client experience

Now that you have a list of software that match your business type and have the features that you require to run your business, evaluate them on the basis of client experience that offer through website and mobile apps.

Website
  • Your website ought to be an extension of your physical fitness business. This means consistency in branding, colors, fonts, and logos.
  • The website ought to feature all the important information about the classes and courses you offer, the equipment you have, and basically anything else about your studio that your customers would want to know about.
  • Your management system should also feature the same branding as the website.
  • The system should be integrated with the website so your customers can book and pay for your services on the website.
App
  • People are always on the move, and a mobile app that is integrated with your management system will allow people to explore your business and control their relationship with your brand from their smartphones, including paying for their studio memberships.
  • The app should be branded the same way as your studio and your website.
Marketing

Most fitness studio management software do not have an inbuilt marketing suite that integrates with third-party applications. They end up depending on tools like Brandbot to help them handle that aspect of their business. However, here are the features you’d ideally need as native to the management system.

  • The tool ought to help you customize and automate your email marketing campaigns, instead of having to subscribe to Mailchimp or Constant Contact.
  • Automations to send out SMS and emails for introductory offers to attract new customers, birthday wishes to your contact list, push notifications for reactivation reminders, and congratulatory messages are sought-after functions.
Referral program

Word of mouth is one of the oldest and most effective marketing methods. The studio management system you choose ought to allow you to reward your customers who are also your brand ambassadors whenever they bring your fitness business a new subscription.

  • A great referral reward is to offer discounts whenever your existing customers introduce new paying customers to your brand.
  • A more beneficial reward is to offer existing customers free credits to redeem against sessions or classes. This may incentivize them to try a training or program they aren’t yet enrolled in, and bring you new revenue as well.

Ease of use

The tool you invest in ought to be easy for your staff and for you to use every day, considering the multitude of functions you will be using it for.

Strike out the ones that are not user friendly based on the following questions.

How easy is it to set up?

The reason you need to ask this question is that a tool that takes a lot of hardware space and needs a lot of time to set up may not be easy to load, use and troubleshoot.

How long is the training?

This is important because ideally, learning to use the management system should be an easy and quick process. Not only does it show that the software UI itself is user-friendly, but you’d also want your staff to be back up front after the training and running the business as soon as possible.

Is it self-serve?

Some tools are easy to use and often come with tools like knowledge banks, help widgets, and other facilities that allow you to troubleshoot most operational aspects of the tool without you needing to ask for customer service. These tools are generally easier to use.

Would you adopt more features to get the most ROI from the software?

There are two aspects to this that you ought to consider. The first is that if the tool already has more features than your business requires, you may not need to adopt more features to get the best ROI from the software.

However, if you feel the need for more functionality and integrations to be able to make the most of the tool, you may want to consider asking the software provider for an upgrade or look for solutions with the features you need.

Support

Next step is to get rid of the options that do not provide good support.

Software, as with all things technological, are bound to have glitches and when you do experience those glitches, you will want help to be available to you pretty much immediately. Downtime, as we all know, means money lost. So here are some other factors for you to consider.

Response time

How quickly can you get through to the support team? Do they have a lengthy IVR to navigate when you call them? Do you need to email them? How long do they take to respond?

When you are going to be investing in software to help with every aspect of running your gum, you want to work with a firm that is easy to get in touch with, that understands the importance of their tool in your business, and is quick to provide solutions when their software behaves faultily.

Video calls

If your software provider isn’t locally located, they ought to be able to provide you with the clock service via video calls, so they can instruct you or your staff on how to troubleshoot in real time.

Dedicated account manager

Ideally, your software provider should be able to give you a dedicated account manager to address your issues instead of having you wait in a queue on their customer service line.

Pricing

Finally, to zero down on your perfect software, check the pricing of the set of software that you are left with.

Most studio management apps cost between $125 to $200 a month on average. That being said, it would be prudent for you to look at investing in the tool that fits best for your business and is most capable of helping you realize your goals instead of settling for a more affordable solution. The goal ought to be ROI in the long run and saving a little.

Here are some factors for you to consider before investing in fitness studio software.

Pricing model

You will need to consider whether you want to invest in a tool that gives you everything at a flat price, or one that allows you to add on features as your needs change at a cost.

Integrations

You will also need to consider what integrations come with your subscription, and how much you may need to further invest for other third-party integrations.

Client experience

Finally, see if what you’re paying for enhances the experience your customers have interacting with your brand across all platforms. They ought to have a positive and consistent experience irrespective of whether it's in your fitness studio, on the mobile app, or on your website, and the software you choose ought to enable that for you.

Switch to Bookee, the complete fitness studio management OS

Looking for a more efficient studio management solution? Come to Bookee.

  • All your membership management needs covered.
  • Everything related to scheduling including booking classes, courses, workshops, and calendar management is handled.
  • Build a website and a mobile app that resonates with your brand, including payment solutions.
  • Streamline all your administrative processes, including reports, analytics, payroll management, and more.
  • Want to set up an online store? We’ve got that covered as well.

Book a free demo today to take your fitness business to the next level with Bookee!

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Vaishwi Sinha

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