A member management system is described as a system that enables communities, associations, clubs or other membership-based businesses to store, manage and track member information through an organized database. It should allow communication with members, facilitate renewals, events and collect fees.
Essentially, a membership management system allows you to manage all your members in one place and effectively meet their demands and needs, whilst making it a lot easier on yourself, avoiding a lot of unnecessary manual work. A lot of people start out in business with excel sheets and/or paperwork. As the business grows, this can become overwhelming and runs a higher risk of errors–highlighting the need for a dedicated platform.
When looking for a new system, you need to ask the questions that are right for you, making sure it allows you to control everything you need it to within your business. This could be anything from access levels, membership rights, class & booking check-ins through to billing, emailing, reporting, online access, and even digitally signing terms and conditions.
A lot of industries around the world require (and use) membership management software. Some of these facility types include karate and martial arts, aqua massage and swimming pools, yoga, indoor golf and dance studios. The key is making sure your chosen software is easily customizable, this makes it a perfect solution for all facilities looking to manage their members.
It is important to get the right system for you and your business, as something that suits others may not suit you! Some critical success factors we have come across that people are aiming to satisfy when searching for a new management system are:
Access control and Automated check-in
Having access control for 24/7 or extended hours is becoming more and more popular, providers usually only offer one or the other, and you have software and hardware separately–this means you will need to integrate the two together to be in sync.
The best solution is to find a provider that offers an integrated solution of both software and hardware. This allows you to have your access control, automated check-in and your management software all with the one system. This in turn, assists with ongoing help, support, and training due to reducing the complexity and number of issues experienced with your system as all hardware is already preconfigured to your system and ready for installation upon arrival.
Most membership management platforms offer some form of reporting functionality. That is, the ability for you to be able to view a list of current members, prospects, bookings or visits within a particular time period. Most systems only offer a handful of rigid reports and are typically void of any customizability.
Finding a membership system that does offer the flexibility to customize your reporting will be a valuable asset to your club, not only does this assist with collating all your important information in one place, but also a more efficient and effective work-flow. Every club is different in how they interact with members and manage their business, this should be reflected in reporting to ensure the day-to-day operations of your business run smoothly.
Good systems also offer the ability to have these reports emailed to you periodically, eliminating the need for you to regularly remember to go out of your way to navigate to them.
Email & Communications
It’s all well and good having a list of members that you can pull up and look at on-demand, but without the ability to communicate with them effectively and efficiently, you are not getting the most out of your system. It is important to find a system offering multiple communication channels, so you can best reach your members in any given situation. Look out for a system which offers messages to be sent email, SMS and push notifications
Price is a major factor for any new purchase, and your membership management system is likely no exception. People don’t want to be paying prices through the roof, but they say that price is an indicator of quality–this does not hold true to the membership management world. You can receive all the functionality your business could ever need from a business at a lower price point, while high priced platforms may look good, but offer very little substance. Making sure you’re being offered all you need for the right cost is a big factor of whether that solution will work for you long term or not.
Also, make sure you ask about any hidden costs. Many providers out there will give a cheap base figure, but then as you go along adding features on, they increase the price.
A lot of people don’t like being locked into 12-month terms these days. The best membership management software providers have their rental fees on a month by month basis, giving you peace of mind if anything ever changes and you decide the system is not right for you. This also goes hand in hand with the price factor above. Make sure all your requirements are covered before you lock yourself into a contract.
Some systems out there are fantastic, but they’re also extremely complex and take a very long time to learn and navigate your way through. The system you choose should make your life easier and put your mind at rest that your business is running smoothly–without too much hassle and taking days to understand.
When shopping around for the right software, try and test some free trials available so you get a feel of the system. This may also spur on a few questions that you may wish to ask a sales representative before taking the leap.