Best Mindbody Alternative: Complete Guide to Choosing a Modern Fitness Business Software in 2021
s a fitness business owner, when your business grows you need a fitness studio software that goes beyond fulfilling basic purposes like scheduling (Acuity or Pike 13) and empowers you with the right tools to manage and grow your brand.
In that case your fitness software won’t just act as a booking platform, it would be an aid that lets you handle your day to day operations with ease and offers your clients a better experience than they can possibly imagine. All without adding admin hours or complexity.
There are many fitness studio softwares out there for one to choose from. And a lot of them may appear great before the sale is made, but once you sign up you are likely to realize why they are half-baked and unfit for a thriving business’ necessity. That’s what the bottom of the market has for you.
As for the most comprehensive pieces of softwares, well the market is still tight. And amidst so few options once can feel confused. Probably that’s one of the reasons why you have ended up at this page. So, before we talk about Bookee, let’s revisit a choice that you’ve already considered or tried before. Mindbody.
Mindbody = Popular?
Mindbody. The word must ring some bells. It may serve as a reminder of something good or bad. A sour experience or perhaps a great one? We don’t know for sure.
What we do know is that Mindbody has been one of the front-runners in the software race. They are pretty big when it comes to their outreach and marketing. So when Michelle Obama comes in at their conferences, it’s something huge right?
There’s no denial that Mindbody has indeed been a popular choice in the previous decade for several business owners. It was an early entrant that gave shape to the fitness software industry. And thus it was one of the popular choices too...in the previous decade.
So when it is the year of 2021, can we all agree for a second that what’s been popular, need not be the most useful. This line of reasoning can help us understand why what once used to be a path-breaking software has now become redundant, complacent and downright obsolete.
Over this article, we’ll help you understand the current technical position of Mindbody and along the way would take a little liberty to share with you about how our software - Bookee compares to Mindbody.
What does a fitness business need that Mindbody offers?
Before we assess whether Mindbody business is a good fit for you or not, we need to realize what you as a fitness business owner expect from a fitness management software. Here are some of the features that a Mindbody was designed to help you out with:
- Advanced Scheduling Tools: MindBody booking policy, waitlists, membership tiers, multiple booking channels, multiple payment methods etc
- Communication Automation: Communicating at scale with your clients. Keeping your communications personal without losing that touch.
- Website Bookings: Website that converts visitors to paying customers. Not just a calendar to book classes from, but a website that drives users to explore, signup and pay for services.
- Mobile Apps: To drive class and appointment bookings in a mobile first world.
- Growth Features: To help you grow your business via marketing tools like gift cards, referral program, marketing automation etc
Not denying the fact that Mindbody was ahead of its time when it was launched and had incorporated a lot of comprehensive feature sets in its offering over the next few years. But the more their feature diversity grew, ironically the more limited they became as far as applicability was concerned.
Therefore it makes sense why Mindbody has been amongst the very few pieces of software that provides an end-to-end solution for fitness businesses that wish to go all in with such an extensive range of features.
Since Mindbody was an early entrant in the market, it grew with a rapid pace and amassed huge sums of wealth that was further put to use for its marketing efforts to solidify its position as a top-of-the-funnel brand in the fitness software industry.
But then again, this advanced age software that seems like a utopia does not come without its fair-share of problems.
What are the issues with Mindbody? And why don't they fix it?
Let’s start from the start here. Mindbody Online doesn’t really adhere to the common and usually very welcome practice of offering a free trial when you first wish to try it. The closest thing you’ll find to a free trial here is a 20-minute guided demo with a Mindbody customer service representative.
So once you’ve signed up a long-term contract with Mindbody and you enter the mysterious adobe, you’ll realize that it’s a very comprehensive software, and that’s “comprehensive” not in a good way.
Be prepared thereon for a steep learning curve. Here are some issues that you might encounter:
01. Limited Ease of Use
Now if you go through any software review website like Capterra or Get App and scroll through the negative reviews of Mindbody online, you will know the challenges we are talking about.
What might seem like an appealing feature set that gets you to sign up at first can bring you much irritation once the excitement wears off.
Mindbody management software is hard to figure out even for a software engineer, rest alone fitness studio owners who juggle sales, marketing, scheduling, and customer service all at once.
When we tried the software, after a few hours we got really tired of figuring out basic stuff and then browsing their support articles every 5 to 6 clicks. That’s primarily because the software was too tricky to use without long hours of training and customer support.
02. Lack of Industry Focus
Mindbody has established its footing in multiple business verticals be it several fitness types or varying beauty services like salon and spas.
For that specific reason, they offer a generalised pricing structure and software utility across different industries and markets.
If you are a fitness business owner, what would work best for you needs to be offered by developers who are devoted to serving your line of business. People who boast a solid expertise for your market including its sub-verticals like Yoga, Barre, Pilates, Boxing, Crossfit etc.
03. Messed Up Point of Sale
Mindbody’s payments system allows you to sell your retail products and services through its POS. Because it’s integrated with other Mindbody products, you can access client information simultaneously with sales.
But, here’s a review that was posted online, which is rather apprehensive of the point of sale system which is to be fair just one of its features.
“The point of sale is a nightmare. They have NO point of sale effectively. They don't even allow an instrument as a chip reader!!! The only solution is a 3rd party instrument that costs $900, and does not fully integrate with the mindbody software. They forbid you getting a functional Credit card terminal, and have no options. This system is a constant source of grief. It double charges clients all the time, they say they are "trying" to get it to stop, meanwhile I get a dozen furious calls a week from clients who complain. The company has had an urgent fix in the works for over a year. I could go on, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Aditionally, they charge way above what I can get credit card processing for on the open market, but they forbid any competition in this arena.”
So the problem lies not just with the point of sale, but with the incremental pricing structure, hidden additional fees and delayed customer support.
04. Orthodox Waitlist Design
Waitlists kick in once bookings for a particular class are full. They are used to keep the over-capacity bookings in line so that if someone cancels, the class capacity stays unaffected.
A cut-off period is also required before which the system follows a serial-wise booking alotment for waitlisted students.
But after the cut-off period (say 4 hours prior to class), it isn't ideal to automatically book a student since he or she might not be available for the class at such a short notice.
For Mindbody users, the staff has to manually confirm the waitlists before adding them to the class roster post the cut-off time, via call or messages. They might have to do it many times a day, sometimes twice or thrice for the same class.
This task should rather be automated so that studio owners can prevent wasting their admin hours on such repetitive lines of work.
Bookee follows a system where post the cut-off hours, the waitlisted students are sent notifications so they can decide themselves whether to book the vacant slot as per their availability and no admin hours are wasted over the same.
05. Poor Customer Apps & Online Store
Mindbody offers a non-responsive online store where your customers book via Mindbody’s marketplace studio app.
The main disadvantage of a marketplace app is that your customers discover not just your services, they are free to engage and discover your competitors as well.
That might do more harm than good, as it won’t be very wise for you to pay extra bucks just to end up losing your customers to Mindbody.
The above point is sufficient enough to dissuade any prospective buyer against going ahead with Mindbody. But these are facts, cold-hard and honest facts
06. Incremental Pricing
Pricing is one of the most crucial factors when it concerns a buying decision. Pricing cannot be singled out in itself. It’s relative pricing that matters. How much you get for how much you pay.
So when Mindbody offers you a starter pack of $129 you might think that’s a good deal. But as you delve deeper, you’ll realize that they practically offer you nothing useful or complete in that plan.
Every good feature costs more and is charged as an add-on, adding to your per month billing. The ideal set of features that a regular business owner needs would cost you around $399 which comes under their Ultimate Plan.
And even the ultimate plan would exclude many good features like branded mobile apps and virtual options like live stream and video on demand.
All in all you would have to spend more than $399 at minimum and the price range can pile up to go over $700 depending upon the add-ons you choose.
And if you thought that was high, wait till they increase their price rates by over 60% in under a six month period. Yes, that has happened with users.
07. Laidback Support
Even if you’re willing to put in more hours to train your team on Mindbody software, because it’s a one-time thing and hopefully once the staff knows how to handle the functioning, it will all be good to go. Right?
Well...not completely right. One of the most highlighted negative feedback that we have received from ex-mindbody users is their post-sale customer support.
This is what a review from Get-App read. And trust us that this is not the only one.
“Not great. I have reached out to support twice in the past month regarding the issue with the App showing all the wrong appointment times and patients being unable to book. As this is the primary function of the software (and 5 times more expensive than my last software) I told them I need to get out of my contract so I can get a product that works, and they so far refuse, Even though they admit the App is broken. Their response is they can just remove my business from the App. (I pay for this, I want the features.) It also often takes Support several days to respond to support requests, which is very frustrating when you're having a issue. This Software is definitely not worth the $260 a month.”
Imagine you are into a usual day of business at your studio when you encounter a technical problem related to the software during the working hours. What would you do?
The ideal thing to do would be to reach out to support. But what if the support gets back to you after several days. Are you really willing to compromise fluid business functioning for that duration of time. Ideally the answer is a resounding no.
Still if you decide to go ahead with Mindbody, it’s great to jump in with a stoic mindset that the promises made by the pushy salesman during the sales-call would hardly be fulfilled
Why don’t they just fix it already?
The reviews highlight the following challenges faced by Mind-body users:
- Difficulty: Mindbody is a comprehensive piece of software with numerous tabs and features to navigate. Many users complain that Mindbody is not user-friendly.
- Poor Customer Service: Many of the complaints revolve around customer service, which is depicted as slow, hard to reach, and unresponsive.
- Billing Issues: Several users claimed they did not receive promotional rates offered by Mindbody sales staff. Others complained about sudden rate hikes.
- Downright Expensive: Mindbody isn’t cheap, and it’s gotten increasingly more expensive over time. The payment processing rates aren’t that bad, but at $129/month for the Starter package, they had better be. Also, the difference in pricing by industry makes it pretty hard to know if you’re getting a good value.
- Buggy: A number of users reported encountering bugs that made the program harder to use. This problem does not seem to have improved substantially over the years. Integrations may not function consistently or as expected.
Given that Mindbody is still reaping the benefits of a software build years ago, and continues to make a fortune out of it, there is no sufficient motivation as it appears to improve their product. And until they realize this hard fact, it might be too late for them.
Who should consider Mindbody and who should not?
Small & Medium Scale Businesses
Considering the needs of SMBs, even if we let go of the current state of software and expect it to improve in future, the suitability for SMBs hardly surfaces as user reviews reveal that many times the upgrades that are promised to fitness business owners take 2-3 years of development before they reach the end user.
What exists therefore are just some under-developed features that barely fulfil the day-to-day business needs of a fitness establishment let alone providing any advanced features like live streaming and video on demand adequately..
Their online system also has a tendency of becoming slow over time. So the pages that once took a single click might eventually need more time to load, adding more to the wastage of time.
Your time is priceless, it is thereby absurd to waste extra hours every day just to fulfill some mundane & repetitive tasks that should ideally be automated.
After all that’s what an ideal function of a software should be, automation.
Verdict: As a Small & Medium scale business who can’t afford any loss of revenue or time on a buggy software, it’s best advised to not go ahead with Mindbody and save yourself an anxious time ahead.
As a large enterprise, if you are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in development costs to fix the issues with Mindbody and make it work for your business, then it could be a possible option.
Verdict: Go ahead if you have that kind of revenue and time to spend.
How is Bookee different from Mindbody?
Here are a few reasons why 95% of our clients switched over to us from Mindbody.
1. Industry focus
Bookee is entirely devoted to servicing the necessities and challenges specific to the fitness vertical. Our devotion lies at building the best fitness studio software that fits best with the day to day business of Yoga, Pilates, Crossfit and Boxing studios.
2. Feature rich
Everything that Mindbody offers, we offer but better.
Have a sorted list of all your daily appointments and class schedules along with expected attendance to plan your day and avoid any confusion, with a decluttered fitness scheduling software.
Use sorted membership management feature to identify at-risk members and set up auto messaging to engage them before they make a decision to leave.
From initiating a conversation to closing the deal, make sure each staff member knows what they need to do to convert a lead. Visualise your sales progress and push leads through the pipeline with a customised fitness CRM software.
Ensure a fast payment mechanism to enable fast purchasing decisions at the front-desk and eliminate even a second worth of decision-delay.
40+ customer triggers help you keep a close watch over every possible customer activity. Write a notification text that fits your brand and decide when it goes out, how it goes out.
And much more...
3. Online Web-Integration
Our online store offering is much simpler yet powerful. Most importantly it’s branded to your business.
Take a look at both the above images and decide which online store would convert visitors more quickly. In an ideal world, the Mindbody website integration which looks like a company’s bank statement can be a huge turn-off for incoming traffic, at least traffic of visitors with a reasonable sense of design.
Bookee offers attractive and quick check-out options so that visitors from social media get converted into paying customers in a matter of a few seconds.
4. Best-in-Class Mobile Apps
This is one of our best features. A mobile studio app for your customer which is simple to use helps them stay connected to your studio at all times. They can do everything with a mobile app. They can discover and book your classes, workshops, instructors, and make payments easily.
Our apps have an intuitive and simple design. They are accessible and fun to use, that way customers are compelled to use them to keep track of their fitness needs. By empowering customers and forming a continuous link with them through the app, you make them independent, while saving yourself several admin hours.
Most importantly, this app is not a marketplace app much like Mindbody, where your customer logs in to discover a lot other studios and then choose yours. The app is encrypted between your studio and the customer only. Nothing else stands between you too. That way no one else can steal your customer information or attract them via their own services.
Same as the online web-store, the Mindbody business apps are also marketplace in nature. So as always, your customers are exposed to several other competitors, which may do more harm than an anticipated good for you.
5. Product design
Rather than spending countless hours training your team on an outdated software, we feel it’s better to make use of something that is self-inspiring and intuitive to use.
That’s what our vision was and that’s how we have designed Bookee from the very beginning.
Bookee hosts an array of powerful tools that your fitness business will need, if not now then in due course of time with the constantly changing fitness landscape of a post-2020 world.
Our software is easy to use, but that ease doesn’t come at the cost of an extensive yet lucid feature set.
Customers say that Bookee is one of the most instinctive and well-designed software they have ever used. It delights customers and team members alike.
Everything you need to manage your schedule, sales, marketing, online store, and mobile apps is built natively into the platform.
You don’t need to pay extra for third-party integrations or work with more developers to make your website better.
And you really really don’t have to take our word for all this. A live demo or a free-14 day trial can probably help you understand more clearly the reasoning behind the above made claims.
6. Economical Pricing
Our price range starts from $99 which includes the basic features along with a branded website integration, email automations and task management.
If you go a level higher and add the utility of courses and workshops alongside video on demand and business apps then that’d cost you $199.
But if you wish to go all in with no restrictions and our best possible features like Lead Pipeline, Push Notifications and Performance reports then that brings the sum to $299 per mo.
If you decide to bring in the add-on of Dedicated Mobile Apps then your total sum won’t exceed $400. After that, there are no hidden costs, promise.
Compare that with Mindbody and you’ll be saving almost $200 - $300 monthly, which translates to an annual saving of approximately $3000.
You may think that $200 - $300 per month is not that much when you’re getting the bang for your buck. But here’s where the real challenge comes in.
Even after spending so much on the software, past user surveys with our clients (ex-Mindbody users) reveal that you may not get what you pay for. Here’s why.
7. Dedicated Support
For starters, Bookee offers overnight migration with the guaranteed assurance of zero down time and free data transfer. Once that’s done we make sure that your training and onboarding continues as long as you’re at ease with the software to use it yourself.
We do have a range of support articles, but if you feel more comfortable having a one-to-one call to explain a particular feature, we’d be more than happy to service you the same in a matter of 24 hours.
Our development team keeps pushing out new updates every month and you’re updated on the same via our newsletters, to ensure that your advancement continues with the software.
Above and beyond, our client support is dedicated, really dedicated. And we’ll be honest about the fact that we as a team are eager to grow, and we know that that’ll only happen when you’ll grow.
All in all, it definitely seems comprehensible what the value of a client would be for a multi-millionaire corporation versus a team that’s still growing to reach its fullest potential.
Choose what suits you the best.
Mindbody may seem like a complete and comprehensive software suite designed for businesses that offer gym classes or wellness-related appointments. While bending it to some other purpose might be possible, you won’t be able to take advantage of all its features and use it at an optimal level. You also can’t take the software for a free trial test drive to see if it offers the functionality you’re looking for. More importantly, you could probably find what you’re looking for at Bookee, that too at a much lower cost.
While the company’s formal reputation seems good, there are a number of red flags reported by users that include bugs, price hikes, and unresponsive customer service (a big problem for complex programs). You tend not to hear from happy customers as often as unhappy ones, but the sheer number of dissatisfied customers is worth pricing into your calculations.
So in conclusion, it is safe to say that Mindbody’s heavy price tag hardly justifies its worth and utility as a fitness software. The additional upselling won’t necessarily equate to more customers for your business and may eventually have to be treated as sunk costs that you’d regret.
Try before you buy anything. Get on a live 45 minute demo with us and see what differentiates us, and why our pricing holds so much more worth and growth potential for your business than any other fitness software out there.