24/7 gym access has become a prominent offering in many facilities with both the rise of budget all access gyms and more traditional gyms converting to 24/7 to prevent member attrition. Going 24/7 can provide a wide range of additional benefits to a site but there are also additional items to consider.
- Local Government Compliance: Usually safety focused, this includes items such as regular maintenance checks, manual and emergency exit options and panic/emergency devices. The majority of the costs consist of upfront hardware and installation costs but it is important to budget for ongoing compliance as well.
- Ongoing Costs: Insurance may have similar compliance requirements to local government and you may also face higher rates. Other expenses that can increase are power, cleaning and maintenance due to additional use. This additional use should represent additional revenue in most cases.
- Hardware costs: The cost of the electronic barrier itself and the access control system, along with the previously mentioned safety features, need to be accounted for. You will also need to cover the cost of installation and cabling. Another important addition is a security camera system, which provides both you and your membership base with peace of mind, while also providing the most cost effective way of ensuring members don’t abuse the use of their cards.
Biometrics, Barcode and RFID represent the three main methods of controlling 24/7 gym access to your facility. All have their pluses and minus and it’s worth considering the best option for your facility.
- Biometrics: Offers low ongoing costs to the system as you do not need to purchase keytags/cards etc. However, they do tend to have a hard limit on the number of files that can be stored on them and by the same token you’re not able to onsell keytags/cards as an additional revenue stream. Additionally these systems are prone to false positives or negatives.
- Barcode: Barcodes can be sourced for less than a dollar per unit in most cases and offer a relatively low cost entry system. That said they are less secure and durable than RFID and also tend to offer a less streamlined check-in alternative. You can also onsell the tags/cards to members either to cover costs or as an additional revenue stream. One concern with barcodes is how readily they can be duplicated with a photocopier, for this reason barcodes are suitable for automated check in but not for unattended 24/7 gym access.
- RFID: Offers a more secure and durable alternative option to barcodes but at a higher cost per unit. They can cost anywhere from $1.80 to $20.00 per unit depending on the supplier and medium. RFID tends to offer a smoother check-in process than barcodes as well as offering a wider range of mediums including cards, keytags, silicon wristbands, stickers, etc. As with Barcodes you can onsell the tags/cards to members.
Integrated vs Independent systems
Typically an access control system can either be integrated or independent of your facility management software.
Integrated systems offer a variety of benefits including not having to maintain multiple databases, no need for double entry and the ability to easily leverage visitor information. For example with a non integrated system a simple issue like a bad debtor can involve numerous steps e.g having to run a debtors report in your membership management software then log into your access control system and lockout a member. With an integrated system you could have configured it to lockout a member as soon as they miss a payment or after they go over a certain debt level. Not only does an integrated system reduce the admin time required but also improves the responsiveness of your facility to potential issues such as bad debtors.
Non-integrated systems are separate, meaning that you can use them without needing any membership management software to run them. This also means it can be easier to change software providers. However, the upfront and ongoing hardware costs can be considerably higher. It can also mean a greater amount of administration time and more manual processes to keep the databases up to date and compare information.
Which option you choose for 24/7 gym access will depend on your own situation but it’s well worth exploring all your options.