The Right Software Streamlines Health Club Operations: A Case Study

How Franco’s Athletic Club found the membership platform—and app—to meet their needs.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to consider shifting your club management software. Maybe you’re getting blindsided by unexpected shortfalls in revenue; there might be a departmental conflict arising from not having updated information; or you’re frustrated by re-entering the same data multiple times.

Tiffany Herting, finance director at Franco’s Athletic Club, which operates three health clubs in the New Orleans area, can relate. After seeing bottlenecks, including reporting limitations, accessibility, and integration limitations in her club management platform, she decided it was time to upgrade their solution.

“Most importantly, we needed help with what we didn’t have. We were looking to improve on user engagement and convenience through the accessibility of a high-functioning, integrative app,” she adds.

Franco’s somewhat unique set-up made finding the right solution that much more challenging.

“Franco’s Athletic Club is a business with many facets, all of which had to be taken into account when building a solution,” notes Tom Antosik, Club Automation’s regional director. “They’re a traditional fitness facility, which also encompasses a spa, an athletic store, CrossFit, a team training/personal training business, a yoga studio, a social club, and a café.”

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Tom Antosik, Regional Director, Club Automation

Timing Was Critical

At the time, the biggest obstacle for the club was the pandemic, which is where the new app became pivotal. Given that range of amenities, Antosik says, Franco’s needed a single place where members with varying interests and needs could get information quickly and interact with the club to get what they needed.

“What Franco’s wanted was a mobile experience that allowed them to share new and relevant details about the club at a point where communication and helping members remain connected to the club were key issues,” he says. “And, just as important, members needed a communication channel that could help them more effectively manage their time at the facility.”

“We made our transition to Club Automation as a provider at the height of COVID-19,” says Herting. “We were in the midst of making several modifications to ensure member safety, not the least of which were putting limitations and restrictions to the number of members we could have in the club at any given time. One feature that became integral to reopening was the online reservation system.”

Prior to the introduction of the app and that reservation system, Franco’s was getting swamped with calls and an influx of members showing up unannounced, causing front desk personnel to have to turn people away. Franco’s found that once members were aware of being able to book appointments and reserve time for childcare, swim lanes, tennis lessons, yoga, etc., through the app, those bottlenecks decreased dramatically. Because the reservation system and the app were both tied to the club’s overall management software system, there was an automatic limitation placed on the number of members allowed in the club at any given time, so that classes and the facility itself could never be overbooked.

“Our owners and management team met with several other gym owners and management teams who are currently utilizing Club Automation to hear about their experiences. After several months of gathering feedback and review, it was obvious that Club Automation would be the best fit for our needs. Throughout the entire process, their consultation, preparation, installation, and support teams have been extremely active in ensuring all our needs are met, and that has continued well beyond installation.”

Tiffany Herting

Franco's Athletic Club

Once the pandemic restrictions were lifted, the long-term benefits of the new platform and app became even clearer.

“I’ll use childcare reservations as an example,” says Herting. “By requiring childcare reservations, we’re now able to better budget our payroll needed to service our members. This also helps on slow or busy days where we are able to make adjustments in real-time, which has also increased payroll efficiency.”

In addition to meeting a critical need at a critical time, Antosik points to the overall communication benefits the app enables. In general, it’s about putting everything members need in one place: the palms of their hands.

“Ultimately, Franco’s wound up creating a ‘one-stop’ member experience through the app,” he says. “It’s not about managing members through software but engaging them with technology. The mobile experience gives the club the ability to proactively push communication out through multiple channels: text push notifications, embedded videos, email announcements, and other essential information. Programming, for example, is only as good as the customers who know it exists. Gone are the days of newsletters and signs on the door or front desk. That’s just not how consumers want to receive information. As those formats fade into the background, the app becomes more central to maintaining the club-member relationship.”

Communication is important, but inherent in the app is also a streamlined approach to the way members do business with Franco’s. As opposed to searching for information on the website, calling the club for more information, coming in to purchase time for what you need, and then calling to confirm, for example, all of that workflow now takes place immediately, in one process.

The app provides information; allows immediate booking, payment, and confirmation; sets up an automated reminder; gives members modification capabilities; and finally, allows the member to reconcile the bill laterall starting with a single, seamless interaction.

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Club Automation’s Focus

“Anyone can manage a billing cycle,” Antosik says. “Anyone can generate reports. Most systems have some good logic on booking, and paying, and memberships, etc. The mobile experience is where you have the opportunity to truly separate yourself from the competition. Optimizing that experience is a major priority for Club Automation.”

If you’re looking for an app or considering a change, Antosik suggests asking these questions:

  • Do you have a mobile experience to get information to your members?

  • Is that mobile experience customizable, branded, and easy to change and manage?

  • Can members and nonmembers alike access your mobile experience?

  • Can members buy, book, and change any number of experiences, programs, events, or lessons through that mobile experience?

  • Do you have a waitlist for popular programs? Is it automated and visible through the app?

“Those aren’t the only issues to consider, but they are central to the member experience,” he adds. “Membership management platforms should focus on what the member experiences. It should be easy and intuitive. It should exist in one place. And that experience should be easy for your staff to manage.”

To learn more about Club Automation, visit their website.


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Jon Feld

Jon Feld is a contributor to Club Business International.