Vagaro Review [Everything You Need to Know]


Get the Basics…

  • Vagaro is a cloud-based management solution for salon, spa and fitness businesses.
  • Vagaro is the #4 ranked salon and spa software in 2019, with 38,000 customers, 3rd highest in the top 20 field of salon and spa booking and appointment scheduling software.
  • Well-priced, tons of automation and customization features with security protection and support make this a very well rounded salon, spa, and fitness software application for virtually any business.

This Vagaro review is going to cover a basic overview of the company, briefly cover as many relevant features as possible while discussing the more standout ones, go over the available marketing and branding tools Vagaro might offer, and lastly, cover the prices of the software and software upgrades/integrations.  By the end of this Vagaro review, you should have a very solid idea of whether the Vagaro software is for your business, or not.

The company overview is going to cover the company’s founding, what type of software the Vagaro application is along with its functions, and lastly, what Vagaro is best known for: booking and scheduling made seamless and easy.

The features section is all about giving you the information necessary so that you know know what you can expect from the Vagaro software.  If there are software integrations that can boost the Vagaro application performance for your business, that will be discussed in this area. Finding the best application for your fitness business is the primary goal for this Vagaro review.

In branding and marketing you will find out exactly how Vagaro can help you do just that: help you with branding and marketing your business, which means better quality clients and customers which means more revenue, which allows you to do what you do best: run your business.

All of the relevant pricing for basic Vagaro software and its upgrades will be discussed at the end so that you can make a decision that will help your fitness or salon and spa business shine the most.

Vagaro Software Company Overview

Vagaro is a cloud-based management solution for salon, spa and fitness businesses.  The software’s key function is to match clients and consumers to salons, spas, and participating fitness spaces.  Several types of customers seek out Vagaro as their business software:

Vagaro Customers Comparison

The Vagaro software application is a payment processing tool that enables client payment transactions to be handled during the booking or appointment scheduling.  This feature makes it super easy for clients to locate the services they want and pay for them in advance, making the booking, appointment setting, and POS transaction process easier for customer and business.

Incorporated in 2009 by Fred Helou out of Dublin, California, Vagaro employs just over 60 individuals and recently received $63 Million in funding for their appointment and booking tools which have helped make business transactions more user-friendly, which means better business.  In terms of revenue, Vagaro sits right in the middle of the competitor revenue earner’s list with $2 Million in their last year.

Vagaro is the #4 ranked salon and spa software in 2019, with 38,000 customers, 3rd highest in the top 20 field of salon and spa booking and appointment scheduling software.  There are 102,000 users on its platform have helped Vagaro attain over 311,000 likes on Facebook, with the next closest competitor over 37,000 likes away.

Vagaro Competitor InfoGraph

The Better Business Bureau(BBB) rating for Vagaro Salon and Spa software is an A+ coupled with six 1-star reviews posted to the Vagaro BBB website.

Vagaro Software Features Overview

If you’ve been in the fitness or salon and spa industry then you’ve probably worked with various different types of business software.  Some come with ease of functions for making sales, especially if the gym is offering shakes, food, juices, snacks, and swag gear.  Others are all about recording data, while some others are centered on integrations with social media and other fitness apps.

Vagaro is especially known for its functionality around appointment setting and ease of booking for business AND clients.  Clients are able to search in their local vicinity for businesses that offer the services they are looking for.  For each participating business, the customer can complete the booking appointment and sales transaction, making the experience that much easier.

This type of software functionality also works in gyms where fitness classes reign supreme, so gyms or businesses that offer classes like TRX, Zumba, Spinning, Aerobics, Dance, and other group exercise and fitness classes like Crossfit are a fantastic fit for the Vagaro software.

Up next we will take a comprehensive look at system functions within the Vagaro fitness, salon and spae software.

Vagaro Capabilities

Vagaro comes with a serious list of functions that are included in the basic subscriber package.  The following table contains functions bracketed under the following category lists:

  • Scheduling/Extras
  • Database/Reporting
  • POS/Transactions
  • Branding/Marketing
  • Tools/Support

Although Vagaro does have a Pro version for users who need just a bit more from the platform, Vagaro’s software is directed at servicing hair and nail salons, spas, barber shops, massage parlors, tanning salons, hair removal businesses along with fitness businesses such as personal trainers, cycle studios, Crossfit gyms, dance and yoga studios, offering support for several other fitness business types.

Customer Appointment and Booking Features

Because Vagaro is so adept at making appointment setting and class-booking easier for clients, most of its features are also centered around making the user experience less complicated and more streamlined which are two keys to running a profitable sales experience.

Vagaro’s software is not only capable of transferring over client and inventory lists from your current software but will do so at no additional charge to the user.  Vagaro’s online booking has a calendar feature that comes complete with notifications and customer tracking, marketing options, branding tools, and business management reporting.

Online Booking

Vagaro makes appointment booking and setting easy by allowing users to book from:

  • The users custom website
  • The Vagaro App
  • Google
  • Yelp
  • Facebook

Google and Yelp are additional software functions that each unique business can add to meet the needs of their own individual client base more efficiently.  With rescheduling, recurring appointments, cancellations, and available class times with class size cap limits, Vagaro salon, spa, and fitness software make scheduling and payments seamless and easy.

Notifications and Customer Tracking

With the option to opt in and out of receiving text messages, Vagaro has settings for businesses to send class and appointment reminds to each client to help decrease class no-shows, allowing businesses to fill the voids and reach their revenue goals with much less mess.  Customer preferences can be stored in the system, making the appointment and booking process unique to each client.

Data Reporting

Integration with Quickbooks is also available on the Vagaro app, making it easier for businesses and employers to access payroll, timecards, appointments, marketing revenue, and tactics, along with inventory reports and more.

Without reporting it’s impossible to see trends, identify areas to improve and plan ahead based on previous trends.  With close to 20 different types of reporting available to businesses with the Vagaro software from activity tracking and sales reporting to productivity reporting and at interval business reporting, Vagaro makes it easy to keep track, stay on track, and stay prepared.


Point of Sale and Transaction Processing Options

Signing on as a business with Vagaro gives you several options for equipment and processing of transactions in-house.  If you do not currently own point of sale and transaction ready computer system, Vagaro can sell businesses one of the following systems, found here on their sales page.

Vagaro Point of Sale Equipment

The $74 Vagaro Essential Mobile EMV comes with:

  • EMV card reader
  • connect wirelessly to your Android or iOS
  • EMV reader accepts chip cards AND magnetic stripe
  • Dock and table stand also included(for a tablet which is NOT included)
  • Square’s EMV reader is $49 but may not sync with Vagaro software

The $428 Vagaro Complete Mobile EMV POS comes with:

  • Full bundle set
  • Receipt printer
  • EMV chip and magnetic stripe card reader
  • Dock and table stand
  • Cash drawer
  • Tablet is not included

The $547 Vagaro Complete Computer POS EMV comes with:

  • EMV reader and dock
  • Barcode scanner
  • Cash drawer
  • Receipt printer
  • Computer/tablet not included

While you will notice that none of Vagaro’s systems included a tablet or computer, keep in mind that most low-end salon, spa, and fitness point of sale computer hardware/software systems start around $1,100 with maintenance software costs around $30 a month. High-end computer systems in the same category can get pricier than $2,000, with those systems requiring as much as $50 a month for software costs.

Automatic Features

Automation is the future and Vagaro salon and spa software knows it.  It creates ease and quality of life for business and consumer and a system that can handle automation are profitable ones.

Vagaro software handles a lot of tasks for the business from security to marketing, scheduling, billing, and birthday emails!  There are also other configurable automated reminders that each business can use on the platform.

Some of the automated tools you can look to make life easier with the Vagaro platform are:

  • Automatic syncing & security
    • Make sure all of your accounts are synced and only you can access them
  • Automated email marketing 
    • Email promotions, sales, class times, notifications and reminders consistently with automated email marketing
  • Automatic birthday or anniversary emails 
    • Keep in touch with your customers and clients in the best ways with automatic birthday and anniversary  emails
  • Automated billing for memberships and packages
    • Take better charge of your business revenue with better handling of billing subscriptions and membership packages
  • Automated Scheduling
    • The best part of the Vagaro process, making scheduling easy
  • Automated appointment status responder
    • Communication between classes, appointments, and schedule changes makes every party a happy participant
  • Automatic Notifications
    • Leave the anxiety of having to check on things and get your notifications automatically
  • Configurable automated reminders
    • The available automated features proving not enough?  Take control and customize other configurations according to your personal business needs!

Security Features

Vagaro salon and spa software is GDPR compliant and considers the privacy of its consumers as one of its highest priorities.

Using cryptography and data centers to which HTTPS (SSL) encrypted transmissions are sent from users computers or mobile apps.  Credit cards transactions are completed through PCI-Compliant gateways and bank networks to ensure security for its 6000 plus businesses across the United States, UK, Australia, and other countries in its network.

Integrations and Add-Ons

While Vagaro software only integrates with about 25% of the most popular apps, sometimes simple can be more streamlined and successful.

Vagaro Software Integrations

Because of Vagaro’s automatic functions and wide variety of features available to users, the salon and spa software doesn’t need a lot of other integrations.

Quickbooks is still one of the oldest and most efficient business utilities on the market, so keeping business tight with reporting from Vagaro software can make your business that much more profitable at the bottom line.

With almost 2.4 billion Facebook user accounts, the social media giant still makes a mark when it comes to doing business.  This integration is particularly key for businesses looking for marketing outlets for expansion.

WordPress is a great app for businesses who want to offer their clients a little more up-to-date info.  Whether through blogs, business pages, etc., the integration of WordPress and Vagaro makes connecting with clients easier.

If a user isn’t doing business with Quickbooks online accounting, it’s quite possible they are doing it with Xero.  Xero’s online accounting software integrates with Vagaro as well.

Available Marketing and Branding Tools

Website Customization

The Vagaro Salon and Spa Software customization features add the unique individual feel necessary for branding and marketing of clients’ businesses, with several options available.  From basic template and color choices to having a professional team at Vagaro design a custom logo and website, you can even choose to host your own website through Vagaro for $10/month and pay a one-time fee of $100 for your customized website.

Vagaro’s custom logo design goes through two proofing rounds, and for a small fee, you get to keep all of the prints.  Examples of the Vagaro design team’s themes can be found here.

For the $10/month fee, you get to host your own custom website without a Vagaro Logo.  The Vagaro software has a few options, however, that DO leave customization completely in the hands of the user.  The user can choose one of three ways to market and brand their business uniquely.

  1. Choose from a few of various pre-made themes that are available on the Vagaro software.  These come ready with designs for each industry(i.e. hair and nail salons, spas, yoga studios, fitness studios, etc.)
  2. With their custom website builder, the business owner can pick and choose their own colors, settings, and have complete control over the look and feel of the app that their customers are logging into.
  3. If the user does not see a fitting design for their business with the website customization feature, the one-time $100 fee can be used to have the Vagaro team design a website that is unique and specific to the user’s business and brand.

These are actually relatively reasonable prices for logo design and website creation.  Typical prices for logos start at around $100 while the costs for website design will range anywhere from around $50-80 an hour for a professional team.  Websites usually end up costing a total of around anywhere from $250 to $1500.  Vagaro makes it easy for a $10/month fee and a simple $100 for their design team to build a custom site on their platform.

Pricing Breakdown

Vagaro Competitor Price Comparison

Vagaro salon and fitness software starts at $25/month with additional fees for extra users. More than seven users will cost a business $85/month.  Along with the $10/month business support fee and possible customization costs, the startup fees with the Vagaro system could cost close to $1,000 when one factors in a possible complete point of sale system and subsequent computer for the system.

Users had this to say about Vagaro pricing:

“I get a full booking salon software that is portable for a small suite owner. I have everything the big salons offers and a affordable price.” – Chandra

“This is by far the BEST software on the market! I am so thankful for the ease of access and features!” – Jaimey

“The ease of use for advertisement, processing payments and reports are great.”

Vagaro’s customization abilities allow for big and small businesses to adjust accordingly according to budget and still have complete functionality inside of the software.

The Bottom Line

Vagaro Competitor Support Screenshot

With the most reviews on several sites, Vagaro’s average rating was around a 4.7 out of five stars.  Well-priced, tons of automation and customization features with security protection and support make this a very well rounded salon, spa, and fitness software application for virtually any business.

Vagaro also gives each potential user a free one-month trial of their product and you won’t get charged for trying out some customization options until the next month.



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All-in-One Business Software Powers Growth [Case Studies + Proof]


Get the Basics…

  • Most fitness business owners are not technical as they need to be
  • Don’t miss out on the value you can provide your clients outside of just the workouts
  • Don’t miss out on revenue-generating opportunities inside and outside your training walls

I want you to ask yourself two questions: what separates the fitness businesses that blast off from the others that blow up? And why do some smart fitness professionals fail while others grow like crazy?

My name is Jeff Crews. I’m the chief marketing officer for Exercise.com, and over the last seven years our all-in-one workout and business management software has been helping some of the biggest fitness businesses and professionals all over the world increase revenue and engagement, save time, and ultimately provide more benefits for their business, clients, and members with their own custom-branded workout apps.

And during that time we found some key trends as to why fitness businesses and professionals ultimately fail. It pretty much comes down to these three main reasons:

You Aren’t a Tech Geek

Number one: They’re not as technical as they need to be. And because of that, they don’t leverage workout and business management software that’s going to save them time, increase revenue for their business and clients.

When it comes to workout creation they’re still using Excel spreadsheets, they’re taking way too much time creating PDFs, or worse, they’re even writing things down or keeping it in their head, which ultimately doesn’t scale.

You Have More to Offer

The second thing is they miss out on the value they can provide their clients outside of just the workouts. I get it; you’re clients are successful based on the training you provide, but ultimately the client was with you for a journey, and during that journey there were times you could engage them with reports and metrics showing when, where, why and how they were successful.

Ultimately, that’s building value for your business and your training.

Don’t Miss Out on Revenue

The third thing that fitness businesses and professionals miss out on are revenue-generating opportunities inside and outside their training walls and completely online that are automated, engaging, and professional. 

The reality is all these problems are completely avoidable if you just follow the right steps and have the right knowledge. Providing a useful and valuable workout and business management solution is straight forward if you know exactly what your clients are looking for and have the right software in place to scale.

Improving your retention with your in-person clients by offering more workout benefits is simple if you’re able to do so in a way that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg and doesn’t take more of your time.

Creating revenue in-person, and outside your training walls, and completely online is easy if you pair your training with the right software, but fitness businesses and professionals are still messing this up.

Let the team at Exercise.com show you how to grow and manage your fitness business better!

They don’t put software in place to make managing their workouts easier, more scalable, to save time and increase engagement.

They spend their time trying to figure out their clients’ needs rather than knowing because they can see exactly what their client did. They don’t provide extra workout benefits to their clients, and members, and provide those valuable metric-driven reports that are going to help them build value over time.

They miss out on opportunities to increase revenues both in-person and outside their training walls and even completely online.

Ultimately, they try to plug and play a bunch of tools that just don’t work when there is an all-in-one workout and business management software that will handle everything.

We at Exercise.com specialize in helping fitness businesses and professionals increase revenue, save time, increase engagement, and provide more benefits with their own custom-branded workout apps.

Now Here’s the Proof

Champion PT & Performance got their own apps and within the first month generated 4.5k in new monthly-recurring revenue while delivering hundreds of workouts.

Mike Boyle’s Strength and Conditioning, in their first year, generated over $65,000 in new revenue by delivering over 700 workout plans automatically.

PTF & Performance went from zero to $220,000 in annual recurring revenue and delivered workouts to hundreds of clients.

Dean Somerset, an individual trainer, went from zero to $180,000 in online training revenue and online spends a few hours a month managing his clients’ workouts. Amp Performance had a workout app to deliver workouts to their in-person clients and to sell workout plans automatically and ultimately, they have a software in place that scales as much as they want.

D1 Performance has an app that allows them to give workouts to their members so they can log and track their performance and provide great reports and leaderboards but also provides valuable data for D1 to engage their members and know how to continue to help them.

[Editor: Check out this interview we did with Matt Kite from D1 and also watch the video interview below]

You can increase whether directly or indirectly by a thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars if you have the right software in place. I’m going to shwo you real businesses and clients and case studies right now who are leveraging their own custom-branded workout apps to do this.

Simply put, all we and I care about is you getting results with your own custom-branded workout apps, and we developed a workout software that is committed to helping you be successful as long as you’re willing to put in the time.

We’re going to give you your own custom-branded iPhone and Android workout apps to deliver your workouts.

You’re going to get your all-in-one fitness and business management software to manage your appointments and deliver workouts and ultimately save you countless hours managing workouts and your business under one software.

And the great thing is you can deliver your workouts in multiple ways.

Whether you’re in-person and you do it by individual clients or group training or classes or whether you want to sell workout plans with automated memberships, run workout challenges. Wherever you want to do it, in-person or online, the list goes on and is available within our software.

Ultimately you’re going to have apps that your clients can use that they’ll love to use because it’s engaging, it’s professional, and it’s going to provide great reports for them.

So who is this for?

Working with us is not cheap, I’m going to be honest with you, but you’re going to get what you pay for. And ultimately if you’re going to go out and do this yourself you’d spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and waste tons of time doing it; we’re talking years of development.

Ultimately you’re a fitness company, not a software company. So we work best with people who are confident and ready to make decisions and ultimately help their business grow and they’re committed to that.

We work with people really already set up to grow in the sense of they already have a business in place, in-person clients or online clients, a decent online following and ultimately, you truly believe that if you have a software in place you’d be able to save more time, earn more money, deliver more workouts, and better manage your business.

We like to work with people who are going to make those decisions quickly and confidently. 

Who’s this not for? Well, this isn’t for someone who is just starting out or who is tinkering around with ideas or, ultimately, is just a tire kicker. We are the real deal, and we have the numbers to back it up.

If you choose to work with our team and our all-in-one workout and business management software we’re going to help you manage your fitness business better. We’re going to help you grow.

We’re going to help you deliver workouts in an engaged, professional way and ultimately save you time and provide more benefits to your clients and your business.



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Meet David Donatucci, Director The Florida Institute of Performance


Get the Basics…

  • The introduction and popularization of strength training and conditioning in the NBA and PGA
  • How to balance training athletes and running a business
  • Effects on email and social media on your passions
  • Difference between training amateur and professional athletes

Mathew Sims: My name’s Mathew Sims, I’m the editor-in-chief at exercise.com. And today we’re talking with David Donatucci, owner of Florida Institute of Performance.

He’s worked with athletes from the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, LPGA, and the PGA and is an expert when it comes to sport’s performance. So he’s going to be our guest today.

Daniel Wiess: I’m Daniel, I’m a writer with Exericse.com. I played golf competitively throughout high school. I played in the high school state tournament twice, and the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach in California.

The Evolution of Training Professional Athletes

Mathew Sims: Awesome. Well, we’ll jump right into it. So, David, can you tell us about your passion for golf. Where did it come from? How has it changed or developed as you got a chance to work with athletes and put some of that into practice with your business?

David: I guess the passion or the start in golf started back many years ago in about say, 1995, 97. I was working with a sports agent up in Cleveland, Ohio, and he had a couple of players that he represented, one of them being Greg Norman.

And we just started talking about how there’s really nothing in the game of golf from a fitness perspective that’s controlled because I was paralleling that to my experience in basketball.

The teams were just then, surprisingly just then getting transitioning [fitness] coaches into the teams and everything. And most of the teams that we worked with, there were very few that actually had a transitioning coach in basketball.

From there, in 1999, I went down to IMG Academy to take a position in their international performance institute. And I basically said, “Let me run the golf division.” And they’re like, “Please do.” Nobody wanted that. At the time, most of the individuals really didn’t see a need to work out.

They just thought it would be, “I’m going to go hit balls. I need to spend more time hitting balls on the range and that’s going to help me get better.” So that’s really how it started for me was working with a lot of the kids in the academy.

And I had the opportunity to work with a number of younger players who were just developing and created their own separate program for them.

Kids came in that were at the academy at 7:00 in the morning and started working out before they went to school. And I was able to really create and develop some programs that I felt some of the kids needed at that time from more of a developmental standpoint and also for golf.

Mathew Sims: So basketball is more of my passion, but it’s interesting you say that. Over that last 20 years, you see players playing way longer than ever. And I don’t think it’s any mistake that that corresponds with what you’re saying. Having the strength and conditioning coach focusing on better sleep and all those sorts of things.

David: Yeah, again I’ll go back to 90, I want to say 91, 92, 93. I was with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is the time when they had Brad Daugherty and Larry Nance and Craig Elho and Mark Price and all those guys. And they were a really good team, but again, fitness and training were like, “Yeah I really don’t want to do that.”

It was tough getting the guys to do anything, to go through a lot of stuff, and it was the old school thinking, “Well, it’s going to ruin my shot. If I work out too much, I’m going to get big and bulky, and I’m not going to be able to play that well and go through a lot of those things.”

And some guy named Jordan, I’m really not sure if he amounted to anything, but he kind of changed the rules of that game.

And [they] went through a lot of different types of situations. People realized that you know what, you still can be a great level player and still work out and do the things necessary to do all that.

Mathew Sims: LeBron’s kind of even taken that to the next level. I’ve heard he spends just millions of dollars on his body, I mean he’s still going strong and to what year, 17 now.

David: Yeah, exactly.

The Day to Day

Mathew Sims: Yeah, that’s really interesting how that’s aligned, and then even transferred into golf. And I don’t know if this is even the case, but what’s a normal workday look like for you as you’re working with athletes and doing other things with your business?

David: I’m getting here probably 5:30 in the morning. And that’s just for the first hour before people start getting here. I will get caught up on preparing for my day and figuring a lot of things out and looking at the facility and cleaning that up a little bit and organizing that.

Let the team at Exercise.com show you how to grow and manage your fitness business better!

Today, I had a really dedicated lady, she was about 76 years old, plays golf, [and] she gets here every day at 6:30 in the morning. She walks on the treadmill for half an hour, we work out for an hour, she walks on the treadmill for another half an hour, [and] she goes and gets a lesson.

She goes and plays golf, and then she finds some other time to eat and do everything else she needs to do with the rest of her day. So that’s one of the people that come in here.

But really people start to roll in here about 7:00 am. I always say with golfers it’s good news that they’re here, it’s bad news that they’re here. If they’re here, they’re not playing in their tournaments; if they are here, they’re working out. So it’s kind of a good news, bad news scenario for a lot of them.

So we got a lot of guys that are out playing right now, which is the benefit. You just hope that they’re continuing a lot of stuff that they do on the road to go through a lot of that. So a lot of my activity is, really I would say, managing programs, implementing training programs that are going on.

I got a staff of about two and we’re bringing in a couple of interns in a couple of weeks to go through a  summer internship program that we’re developing. I’ve got an open house coming up this weekend that I’m preparing for and getting all the necessary things going.

So it’s a split. I like to say it’s evenly split but in terms of the business and the actual training. But I think I spend more time training than I do business-wise. Because that’s what I enjoy doing more than running that business part of it.

But the main thing is we get ebbs and flows of waves of people coming in and out. So the after-school crowd hits in here about 3:30 and will go to about 7:00.

Building and Managing the Business

Mathew Sims: Any tips or anything that’s really been helpful to try to engage the athletes while they’re in their tournaments and keep them focused on, like you said, keeping with the things that they’ve learned and the techniques that you’ve taught them while they’re working out and training with you?

David: Yeah, I really think the biggest change for me is utilizing the exercise.com platform. I’ve been able to really keep tabs on my athletes a whole lot better and making sure that they’re doing some things. So the online platform that we have created and have developed was the necessary portion to have for my athletes that travel a lot.

I have one that’s here now for two weeks; he’s going away to China for nine. So, I have to basically be able to keep tabs on him and make sure that he’s going through some things.

And there’s a lot of times throughout the day that we may create a new exercise. You know, “Hey, this might be good for him. Oh well, he’s on the road. Okay well, let’s videotape it.” We load it in there and say, “Okay, hey try this workout for you.”

So it’s been great for us to really make sure that when the athletes come back, I don’t want to say as fresh as they were, but we’re not starting all over again. We have a pretty good foundation that’s still there, that we can keep with them and keep that moving forward and keep progressing them along the way.

So really for me, that’s been a game-changer and managing that portion throughout the day, that’s the … I don’t want to say challenge, but it’s time-consuming, and that’s part of the business of operating and implementing the programs that we have to make sure that we’re on top of. Or if we fall behind, then athletes aren’t too happy when they miss their workouts.

Daniel Wiess: So what about your workouts and your approach at the Florida Institute of Performance is unique?

David: A lot of it is more the attention to detail. Every athlete that comes through here, they have their own book. They have their own set of workouts that they’re going to go through. We might have 8-10 people in here at one time.

But there might be 8-10 different workouts going on at one time because everybody has a little unique approach that we need to put in there. Even though they all might be high school kids, we might have a kid that’s got a bad shoulder or he’s got bad knee, or it’s a lower back that we’ve got to be conscientious of.

So there are all things based on the evaluation that we have taken them through or tested them on that we need to make sure that we’re covering those bases. That we need to make sure that we have all those things taken care of.

We might have a pitcher. We might have a volleyball player. We might have a basketball player. We might have a figure skater all in here at one time. There are all different, unique tendencies within the sport that we have to cover, to go through a lot of that.

A basketball player, they need more vertical. The baseball pitcher needs more rotational power that we have to cover on there.

The main concept that we do is try and make them a better athlete, but we want to make sure we get to their uniqueness or their—I don’t want to say imperfections—but the areas that we found within the evaluation that’s necessary for them to keep improving.

Team Sports vs Individual Athletes

Daniel Wiess: Right so, you mentioned a lot of team sports there, maybe minus figure skating. So how is training golf different from training those team sports? Because in a lot of those team sports there are the coaching staffs that can look at what athletes need to do differently. But sometimes with golf, it’s a little bit more of a self-evaluation game.

David: Yeah, I think with today’s game as we mentioned earlier, I think a lot of it is the coaches have a lot of input in terms of what’s happening. So what’s going on, the instruction, or what the coach wants to have them do is also creating that foundation within there.

It’s no different than a baseball manager or something. I think golf instruction is actually even more detailed than what a team sport would be. Because a lot of times the managers go workout. We want to get you stronger and faster for everything within the game of baseball; whereas the golf instructor, they’re more hands-on with that individual.

So they’re going to see a little bit more of the intricacies of whatever it might be. Their right arm’s not externally rotating effectively. They’re not getting a good torso rotation properly, not able to load up in that right hip from the golf. And they put more of that on video.

Within the game of baseball or basketball or soccer, they’re not videotaping every little move that the player goes through or makes. They know in generalization, “Hey, this is what we need to do.” But all the minute details aren’t there, I’m going to say that’s good and bad.

So it works in both directions where I think too often a golfer is so focused on one little thing as opposed to the big picture. And they get some things out there, and the opposite is true with the soccer player that you have where they’re focused on the big picture but they’re not so fine-tuned on the little details.

Business Tips, Hacks, & Productivity

Mathew Sims: You mentioned the business aspect and how your passion is for the training. And we talked a little bit about that. If there’s one tip you could give people about the business side, maybe something that’s made it easier or any kind of tip or hack, what would that be?

David: Don’t answer emails all the time. Save the emails for morning and night if you can. Or if not first thing in the morning, I think to often we get caught up into it: “Hey, we have to do it right now.” We get a text message, we get a phone call, we get an email, something pops up, oh we’ve got to answer that.

You don’t have to, and that’s really from the business standpoint that I’ve learned. You know what, let the emails go a little bit, they can wait. And sometimes I’m guilty of letting them wait too long.

I read something one time, it was the CEO of a top 500 or whatever business. And she says she doesn’t answer any emails, she basically passes … they all get forwarded to her secretary, and she doesn’t answer them.

I don’t have a secretary so it’s one of those things where I just look at the end of the day or the first part of the next day. And that’s when I go back through and answer everything and respond that way. If they really want me, they can call me or they can send me a text message.

I always say with training in my business it’s not brain surgery, it’s not life or death. If it’s something, it usually can wait for a little bit of time. If it’s an urgency, they don’t need me; they need somebody else if it’s an urgent situation.

So that’s probably my biggest thing is I let the emails wait a little bit. And answer them all or delete them all is what usually the case [is] with all the junk stuff that I get at one time.

Mathew Sims: Yeah, our CEO used to be a big proponent of the email box zero. And we just talked about this two weeks ago actually as a team. And that’s his strategy now, he answers them at specific points of the day, and then after that, he’s not touching it. Because you can’t get caught where you’re just checking it every five or 10 minutes and then you’ve got nothing done.

David: Yeah, and it’s the same for me. It’s the same with social media. I think you can get sucked into a black hole as to where you start looking at emails and social media and everything else. And now an hour is gone and you’ve done absolutely nothing but looked at what everybody else is glorifying with their business.

My wife always asks me, “Did you look at social media?” I say, no.

I haven’t looked at it. I mean, I might go two or three days where I don’t even look at it just because it’s more of, again, somebody trying to glorify what they’re doing and it gets me frustrated, it gets me mad.

It’s like why don’t we look like that? But I look back and go, you know we’re doing the same thing. I push a lot of that stuff back to the side and try and take care of what I have in front of me.

Mathew Sims: Yep. That’s good stuff.  What’s been the most rewarding part about owning your own business and the performance center that you’re running?

David: I can control a lot of the things that happen within the day, and looking at staff wise what we need to do. If we need to make a change or an intern wants to come in and say “Hey, I want to volunteer and spend some time with you,” I can say yes or no.

I mean it’s not relied upon somebody else to do that. And I’ve done the corporate world for really 25 plus years and always working for somebody else and having to answer to somebody else and doing a lot of those things. I can answer them myself, well me and my wife, I have to answer to her as well.

But from a standpoint of who makes the decisions or going through a lot of that, yeah that’s up to me. And again it’s both good and bad. If it goes wrong, it’s my fault. But if it goes right, it’s mine as well, and I can take responsibility for it, either way, the pluses or the minuses.

Mathew Sims: Yep. What about the most challenging thing with owning your own business?

David: The finances, the salaries, the overhead, all those things that I have to look at every day and go, “Okay if we have an empty gym right now,” I know in my head that we’re losing X number of dollars per hour. By going through all this and it’s knowing those numbers or knowing those factors, that are [the] things that drive me crazy.

Let the team at Exercise.com show you how to grow and manage your fitness business better!

And as I said earlier, it’s the actual running of the business. I’m not a business guy. I’ll be the first to admit that. I’m learning as we go, to try and figure all of these little things out and put a lot of that here.

And I’m just trying to figure out how do we get more traffic through the doors, day in and day out. Well okay, how do we match up and get the offseason for these sports and do all that and get the information out and find a way to market all those people and do all that?

I mean that’s truly, to me, the biggest challenge to continually get a revolving door of people coming in. We have college kids that are here in the summertime. They have to go back to school eventually. So can we get enough people in the fall to make up for that loss as well?

Mathew Sims: Okay. And then you talked about training the athletes and knowing where their weakness and being able to tweak some of that stuff.

But even as a business, how has it helped you knowing your strengths and weakness and knowing what your mission and where you guys excel at?  As far as delivering a really great product to the athletes and the other people that you work with that come into the gym?

David: I think the biggest thing is letting people know we care. I got individuals trying to get better, and improving upon that. I think knowing that we have an understanding of the activities and the movement patterns, and we can actually break the exercise down.

My thing is to tell them how the exercise benefits the sport, not the other way around, to help make your performance better. I think that’s more along the lines that people need to understand is that most of the exercises are going to be similar. But how does it benefit you in terms of your particular sport?

To go through that, and I think once we go through a lot of that and really educate the athlete, educate the individual as to why we’re doing something and say “Oh hey, let’s do this for today, let’s go through this. We actually have a plan.”

We have a sheet that we follow. Do we change that sheet when they’re in there? Yes, based on certain situations, but we have a game plan. We understand what’s going on and what we’re going to do today.

As opposed to just the exercise du jour, we’re going to do this one today and just do bands today, and everybody’s going to do the same thing. No, we’re going to follow a pretty good protocol and everything else.

I mean me, I always look at and say do you think Bill Belichick just walked off the field and goes, “Yeah, I feel like just rowing today; we’re just going to play catch today and go through all that?”

No, there’s an actual process that needs to take place and that’s really for all athletes and developing and going through a lot of that process. And that’s a program that we have here at the Florida Institute of Performance.

The Difference Training Pro Athletes

Daniel Wiess: You mentioned earlier about Greg Norman’s and Micheal Jordan’s impacts on the different sports. What’s one thing that most people wouldn’t know when it comes to training professional athletes? And maybe explain to us the main difference between training a pro-caliber athlete and the average person.

David: I think the biggest difference is that somebody that’s going to go through and trying to aspire to be pro cut, they work a little harder than the normal person. And part of that might be the time that they have because they are pro athletes. LeBron has 10 hours a day to spend on doing some training or doing some other types of things.

I think it’s really there’s a mental aspect of that too. And I compare that a lot to corporate people. Very successful corporate individuals, very successful athletes have the same mental drive as one another.

They come in, they’re on a mission, and they know exactly what they want to do, they know exactly what they’re going to do. And they put forth a really great effort to get themselves better along those lines.

A pro athlete, a high-level corporate individual whose worth over millions, they all put their pants on the same way. So you’ve got to treat them the same way, you can’t put them on a pedestal. You can’t raise them up to a high level.

As a coach, I learned this the hard way when I was working with the Cavaliers a long time ago. You treat them with respect, you treat them the same as everybody else, and they’ll respect you for that.

You don’t go in and worship them and do all this stuff. It’s “Hey, this is what we’re going to do today. We’re going to work at it, we’re going to go hard,” and that’s how they want to be treated.

Mathew Sims: Yeah. I was thinking as you were talking about knowing your business and knowing the costs and even though that wasn’t your primary function I always think of a good business owner knows those things even if it’s not their favorite thing.

You talked about that mindset with people who have that drive, and it’s almost like they know that they’re body is their business and they have to know exactly what’s going on. The educational piece you talked to, and be on it, you can’t take a day off.

Especially now where everybody has a trainer, if you’re going to keep up you’ve got to know what you’re doing and really train smartly and treat it like a business almost.

David: Yeah, and I even look at this and I go back to the Bo Jackson situation and I related to this is where he came out and he said, “Look I dislocated my hip,” and they’re like, “No, no you didn’t, no you didn’t.” I mean an athlete knows his body better than anybody.

They can tell you little things that go on there within themselves. I don’t know what’s happening. So it’s like, I got to believe them. And I really look at it and say, “Okay this is what you feel. Your mind and your body are working pretty systematically together. And I have to believe that you’re right on all those situations. I got to double check it to make sure that we go through that.”

You can send an individual out here doing a heavy lift, and I was like, “You know what, do the first set and tell me how you feel.” And then he’s like, “Oh yeah I feel pretty good.”

“Okay well let’s go, now I know we can go.” And he’s like, “Oh I’m a little sluggish, I’m a little tired or whatever.”

Okay, well we got to back it off a little bit, and we got to change the sequence that we’re going through. So it’s really letting them tell you and dictate their levels and their activity because they’re really in tune with what’s happening.

Mathew Sims: Yeah. This kind of goes along with that I think. But what’s one exercise or something that athletes do that you wish they wouldn’t do, or that you recommend they stop?

I just read a study and we shared it around the team, where people were giving advice on Instagram. They looked at that and people that aren’t experts in their field and they’re wrong 80 percent of the time. So are there any kind of misconceptions that you run into?

David: It falls in line with this but I wouldn’t say it’s one thing. I don’t think there’s really one bad exercise. I think there are people that are giving bad advice for one or people performing the exercise incorrectly. I think because there’s a value to every exercise.

I mean one of my biggest pet peeves with the Instagram things is looking at the box jumps. And people say, oh no he’s got a 55-inch box jump. No, he doesn’t. He’s got a 40-inch foot jump and he’s got a 10-inch head jump.

That equals the 55 inches because your hips did not move 55 inches. And that’s where we measure the true vertical displacement of the hips and what’s the height of the box jump. If we measure this correctly it’s not 55 inches.

So why is somebody trying to jump onto a box and saying, oh that’s the power explosion? I mean if you’re looking at hip flexors or bringing your feet up to something as fast as possible, yeah that’s correct. And I always compare it to somebody and say, in basketball how do you block a shot?

Do you bring your feet up as high as you? Are you trying to jump your arms up and your head up as high as you can? And it’s oh, jump my arms up, why? Yeah, then why would you jump on that box that high? So I think it comes back to, again it comes back to bad advice that people are giving you by people who proclaim themselves to be experts.

I think if there’s a purpose and if you can answer as a trainer: “Why are we doing this? What is this for? What’s the purpose of the exercise?” and explain that back to the individual as the educational point of view, that’s the biggest difference between doing something correctly or doing something incorrectly.

Mathew Sims: Yeah, I love your analogy, that makes so much sense again as a basketball fan. You’re not pulling your feet up high to try to jump up further, it makes no difference.

David: Right.

Mathew Sims: All right, so that’s all we had for you. I did want to check, what’s next up for you? Any big plans for the Florida Institute of Performance or new programs or new initiatives?

David: Yeah, we’re looking at trying to create some things with a couple of local baseball teams around here, that we’re trying to get back into a little bit more of the team training aspect. Get connected a little bit more along those lines, that’s probably the big area.

I’m really trying to develop out my online platform a lot more and trying to do more of nationally if not worldwide in a lot of different areas. We’d like to get more of an education platform going from my end. I keep looking back and going, “Jeez I’ve been doing this for 30 years, I have to have something that I can share with somebody out there.”

So trying to get a little bit more along the lines of an educational platform going are probably the three biggest things that we’re really looking to do over the next six months or so here.

Mathew Sims: Awesome, that’s exciting. Yeah, I know it’s always one part daunting, one part exciting to get those new things rolling and see where it goes.

David: This comes back to that business part of me, somebody has to do it and it usually it’s me. Sometimes I got to find the time to run it all out and put the planning together. So that’s the business part of it.

Mathew Sims: Yep. Well, it was great talking with you, David. We really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions and to let people get to know you and to share your story with us. So thank you, and hope you have a great rest of the day.





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ZenPlanner Review (Overview, Pricing, and Features)


As an owner of a gym or studio, one of your earliest and most vital decisions will be selecting the right management software to suit your particular business. You and your clients will interact with the software every day.

Having the features you need to do business according to your vision and the reliability to operate smoothly are big concerns. After all, you started this business out of a love for fitness, not complicated backend management!

To help you in this important choice, this review will comprehensively cover one of the major players in the market of gym management software, Zen Planner.

Company Overview

Zen Planner is a Colorado-based company whose software is used by over 5,500 gyms, yoga studios, martial arts schools, and Crossfit boxes. The company, founded in 2006, has grown rapidly since 2017 when it was acquired by Daxco, one of the premier providers of large-scale facility management software for multi-location health clubs.

Zen Planner represents an option best suited to small businesses. While it provides the capability to set up linked accounts for management of multiple locations, it is primarily designed to serve single locations with membership bases fewer than 250 clients.

As a web-based platform, not requiring software to be installed or data to be saved to any of the subscriber’s devices, Zen Planner is highly mobile and accessible.

Additionally, Zen Planner has an “A” rating from the Better Business Bureau and has received local and national awards as a highly rated employer, most notably Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work 2013-2018.

 

Features Overview

Zen Planner boasts a long list of features from the basic, universally used member check-in to specialty functions like skill and rank belt tracking for martial arts studios. In this section, I’ll detail the benefits and, just as importantly, the downside of each feature. Let’s dig into everything you can do:

Web & Smartphone Apps

While a touted feature of Zen Planner’s platform, its mobile apps are its greatest weakness.

While gym owners will find some limited convenience in the ability to quickly add a membership or change a client’s saved payment information, the Zen Planner Staff App and Zen Planner Member App seem to have been created as an obligatory afterthought rather than the mainstay they could potentially be.

Beginning with the Staff App, its benefits are the ability to easily check-in clients for classes/appointments, to change their payment method on file, and to process overdue payments. The last of these benefits actually reveals the app’s glaring weakness: the inability to process on-time payments. Here’s the concern:

If the developers troubled to include payment processing functionality in order to take overdue payments, why not allow users to utilize that ability at any other time? To demonstrate the problem, imagine your client, not on automatic draft, wishes to pay their monthly dues in person.

As a staff member utilizing this app, you are unable to input the payment unless it is already late and an alert has appeared on the member’s profile.

While there is always the option of opening the software on your desktop computer and utilizing the full version to complete the transaction, it begs the question, “if there is an app that can process payments, why must I go to this trouble?”.

Continuing on to the Member App, while its claimed benefits are that it allows members to view schedules, reserve classes, and make payments, for a lot of gym members it is an experience that will end in frustration. Member App users overwhelmingly report problems with the app failing to load or crashing so frequently as to render the app practically unusable.

Zen Planner’s apps currently lack customization options like branding with the name, colors, or logo of the gym. Until Zen Planner completes a major overhaul of them, it is actually probably best that way for gym owners who don’t care to have their business associated with such poorly rated apps:

Zen Planner apps in the app store

 

Workout Creation

Among Zen Planner’s advertised features is the ability to create workouts and track trainees’ performance. The usefulness of this function is hit or miss; it will be based on your gym’s particular style of workouts and programming.

While obviously yoga studios and martial arts schools will have no use of this feature, even personal training businesses and some providing group training will find disappointment in the limited capabilities of this portion of the software.

Workout tracking within Zen Planner seems to be a feature intended only for use in Crossfit affiliate boxes and gyms that utilize a similar Workout Of the Day-style approach.

If you are unfamiliar with Crossfit WODs, they are the hallmark training style of Crossfit boxes and other cross-training facilities. For the purpose of this article, we need not focus on particular movements performed in a WOD, just the overall structure.

A WOD is a workout with a standardized workload; all participants will be assigned the same number of reps and the same weight (when applicable).

The variable of the workout, indeed the crux of the entire competitive nature of it, is the time the individual trainee takes to complete it or, as another example, the number of rounds they can perform in a predetermined amount of time.

The important aspect that relates to how tracking a WOD differs from tracking other training methods is that a particular WOD does not change over time, it would be reused as many times as the coach desires with the only input necessary for tracking the workout being the members’ single-variable performance result.

Thus the coach can, in one instance, create the workout in Zen Planner and never need to alter it.

Contrast that with the predominant approach of a strength and conditioning coach who guides a trainee through a progressive training program in which the work requirement of each workout and it’s component parts needs to be deliberately increased over time as the trainee improves.

This would require a robust workout building and tracking software strong in its ease-of-use when updating the workouts themselves.

This is, unfortunately, beyond the scope of Zen Planner’s workout tracking feature. To put it bluntly, the system is simply too slow and unintuitive and with no exercise library, a coach would find himself spending an inordinate amount of time trying to bend this feature to his purpose.

Nevertheless, creating a workout may be worthwhile for the trainer who must only do it once to then be used ad infinitum.

Open Workouts in Zen Planner

Crossfit coaches and box owners will appreciate that the workout tracking system comes pre-loaded with templates of the well-known Crossfit Open workouts that can be quickly implemented without a less-than-enjoyable visit to the Create New Workout section.

Point of Sale

Retail checkout in Zen Planner

In the current market, many gyms from boutique studios to large health clubs choose to operate a retail revenue stream to complement their standard services.

Those using Zen Planner can take advantage of the convenience of a POS and inventory tracking feature that works alongside the gym’s membership sales and billing without the need for a separate software platform.

Through the setup tool, you can add items and set their prices and sales tax rates. You can use the inventory function in tandem to track quantity on hand of each item and set up alerts notifying staff to reorder stock for items falling under your custom quantity thresholds.

Once items have been set up, they are ready for sale through the built-in POS function by staff or via the optional Client Self-Service system.

Client Self-service

The client self-service feature is an option that can streamline your gym’s daily operations or ease the burden on a business with few staff members available for customer service.

At your discretion, you can enable clients to utilize a self-service kiosk (an IPad is recommended) to check-in for appointments, make payments, purchase retail items, and even complete a new membership sign-up.

Among these options, you may utilize as many or as few as you like based on your business model. While self check-in for a workout seems like an obvious benefit, it’s your choice as a gym owner to determine whether or not a more significant operation like starting a membership is something you entrust to the clients themselves.

Program and Schedule Design

Program Setup in Zen Planner

Outlining your gym’s various programs, class types, and schedule is the first logical step in getting your management software to work for you.

The account admin would visit the Setup screen and create (if applicable) multiple programs or categories and, within each program, the specific classes. For example, a gym which features weight training and yoga may generate this structure for their program:

    • Weight training [program]
      • Beginner class
      • Intermediate class
      • Advanced class
    • Yoga [program]
      • Hot Yoga class
      • Flow class
      • Barre Fusion class

For each class, the user may then create a schedule of specific times when the class occurs.

Why is this important?

Designating the time of each class controls when it will appear for check-in to your members should you opt to track their attendance. I highly recommend you do in all cases but when it comes to gyms using a business model based on class limits (3/week, 12/month, etc.), utilizing this feature is a no-brainer.

Despite the high degree of freedom to create as many programs and classes as needed, Zen Planner’s scheduling system has one significant downside:

When it comes to individual appointments such as personal training sessions or consultations, adding or changing these one-off events to the calendar is a hassle, to put it mildly.

Let’s say, for instance, that a trainer’s private coaching client is normally on a recurring schedule of 5 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This week, however, they want to move Friday’s appointment to the morning.

Rather than a simple drag-and-drop on the calendar or two-click time adjustment as one might hope for, the trainer will be required to click through multiple windows back in the Setup section, essentially creating that new calendar entry from scratch.

When considering that there may be a high volume of clients, all of whom require flexibility from time to time, this inefficiency can add up to quite a bit of wasted time for a trainer or gym owner.

Create Membership Options

With your various programs and classes created, the next step is setting up who can access each program and their cost to do so. This is where creating membership types and packages come in.

Just like creating the programs, adding membership options can be as complex or as simple as you wish to make it. Zen Planner gives you the freedom to create memberships and link them with any combination of your services.

You may, for example, create a membership type with access to weight training coaching sessions with a limit of three per week and Open Gym use with unlimited visits each week.

Membership types that will be used regularly for most clients can be saved as defaults so they need not be created from scratch for each new member.

Managers will, however, make use of the Add Custom Membership option in which you may instantly create a membership with unique parameters such as a special discount or any other circumstance that falls outside the normal pre-determined membership settings.

The seemingly limitless options for setting up memberships are one of the Zen Planner platform’s strongest offerings.

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Automation

Setting up email automations in Zen Planner

As a gym owner or coach, the more aspects of the business you can automate, the more you can focus on training and client relationships. Thus a feature like automated emails to your clients is a must-have in your management software.

Zen Planner comes with a default list of suggested automatic messages that the user has only to activate and they’ll be up and running and streamlining their business. Among these are payment reminders, receipts, past due notices, and birthday messages.

There are dozens of templates set up to auto-fill the appropriate information about the client’s name, membership type, and relevant dates. Additionally, all emails can be customized giving you the ability to create an automation based on any piece of data you track in Zen Planner.

You may, for example, create the following sequence for a new member:

  1. Welcome email after the first visit
  2. Check-in email after the first two weeks
  3. Request for a positive review on social media after four weeks
  4. Introduction to referral program and referral request after six weeks

By using the platform in this fashion, you can reinforce the member’s decision to join, build rapport, and potentially even gain new client leads all without lifting a finger after the initial set-up.

In the modern fitness industry, if you’re not using software with email automation you’re doing yourself and your business a disservice.

Data Reporting

Dashboard showing Zen Planner reports

Successful gym owners constantly stay in tune with the performance of their business, not just their clients. Quick access to your gym’s critical data on a daily basis is a key feature of management software and one that Zen Planner does quite well.

A visit to the Dashboard will let you view reports of the gym’s financial statistics, attendance, and sales. While there are many useful default reports that automatically appear on this screen such as memberships expiring soon, upcoming payments, and projected revenue, the user can create custom reports for any data their business collects.

The dashboard view can be customized to include whichever reports you find most relevant to the day-to-day operation of the business so that with just one click you have access to the pertinent data.

Billing

While most gym owners opt for the simplicity of one-time upfront payments or monthly recurring payments, Zen Planner allows memberships to be set up with every conceivable payment schedule from a simple chronological basis (weekly, bi-monthly, etc.) to punch card style options where the member will be billed again after a specified number of check-ins.

Zen Planner can further help you stay organized in your business’s bookkeeping by allowing you to categorize payments, including those on automatic draft, according to program or membership type. Thus you can track the financial performance of each of your gym’s programs independently in addition to the overall revenue of the business.

Zen Planner makes it fairly simple to add or delete payment methods, turn auto payments on or off, and view payment history for a particular client. Ideally, at the time of onboarding a new member, a card is placed on file for automatic billing and little backend account management is necessary.

However, because credit cards get stolen or expire and members occasionally change payment method out of preference, the ease of updating payment methods within Zen Planner is a noteworthy characteristic.

Integrated Payment Processing

Selecting a payment processing service is a crucial part of setting up your business for financial success. Like all membership management/billing platforms, a third-party company must come in to play to ensure that when you click Charge Bill, money actually moves from your client’s account to yours:

That is your payment processing company and their rates and processing time can make a huge difference in your gym’s profitability.

Subscribers to Zen Planner will want to give serious consideration to utilizing their partnership with Paysimple for card payment processing integrated with the software.

As customers of their preferred billing software, Paysimple grants a discount to Zen Planner users. Because just .05 percent rate difference can make a difference of thousands of dollars over the life of your business, this discount is worth looking into.

An additional benefit to using Zen Planner’s Paysimple integration is the elimination of extra steps when issues pop up in the normal course of business. Let’s say, for example, you owe a customer a refund for some reason.

With any other third party processor, you’d need to contact the processing company to initiate the refund in addition to reversing the payment on the client’s account in Zen Planner. If you opted to use Paysimple, however, the refund can be initiated directly in Zen Planner with no extra steps.

Staff Management

Along with managing your clients, Zen Planner can provide vital functions for gym owners who employ trainers, salespeople, and operations staff.

The software features the ability to add staff members and set the schedule and responsibilities for each one. For example, the admin may add a weightlifting coach to the staff and set him as the primary coach for morning strength training sessions. Upon viewing the calendar, other staff and members would then see his assignment to those classes on the schedule.

Naturally, all staff will have some occasion to interact with your gym’s management software so Zen Planner gives you the ability to set staff permissions for each individual employee.

For example, you may wish to restrict personal trainers to the ability to check clients in for sessions and view their remaining number of sessions while giving managers or those involved in sales have the ability to initiate or terminate memberships and process payments.

Zen Planner gives the gym owner the ability to track staff activity and customize the role of each staff member in the business.

For staff who have been assigned an hourly pay rate, Zen Planner can also serve as a basic time clock.

 

Website Design and Integration

Zen Planner integrated websites

For gym owners with the budget to afford it, perhaps the best way to take advantage of all Zen Planner has to offer is having their team develop an Integrated Website for your business. Zen Planner can create a custom website with convenient tools built in that link directly to your Zen Planner account.

For instance, when a new visitor to your website gives their information in a consultation request form, they can be automatically added to your prospect management system in Zen Planner.

From there they’d automatically be entered into the built-in prospect curating email funnel, greatly increases their likelihood of visiting your gym in person and becoming a member.

It is the ultimate way to utilize Zen Planner and the best solution for the business owner seeking the most efficient, hands-off way to run their gym management software. This added convenience and reduced stress, however, does not come cheap:

Depending on the number of members at your gym and your selection of certain premium features, having Zen Planner build and maintain your site will cost your business between $400 and $1000 per month.

Who is this fitness software for?

Target Market/Positioning

Zen Planner is marketed as a management and marketing solution for Boutique Gyms, Crossfit Affiliates, Traditional Martial Arts and MMA schools, as well as Yoga Studios.

What do these users have in common?

All provide premium services like guided instruction in a personal or group environment. Many of Zen Planner’s features would be superfluous to the type of business selling simple facility access for permission to use an open gym floor.

Small to Medium size fitness businesses offering a higher level of service and often multi-faceted membership options need software with the flexibility to operate multiple programs and convenience features which justify clients’ premium price of membership.

Additionally, it is the small business, primarily, which Zen Planner’s all-in-one package appeals to. Here’s why:

While the enormous national franchise gym with 8,000 members has the money and infrastructure to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in separate specialty software platforms and separate staff for training, sales, and marketing, small business owners have a limited budget and must often play numerous roles within their business.

For that reason, they will usually seek the one solution to all their business’s needs.

Trial, Registration, and Set-up

As previously mentioned, the management software you commit to using in your business is a huge decision that will affect your stress level and your earnings. How do you make sure you’re picking the right one?

Better take it for a test drive!

Most management software providers offer a trial of some sort and Zen Planner is no different. On their website, you are invited to register for a free live demo of the software guided by someone from Zen Planner’s support team.

Following the demo, prospective subscribers are granted access to the software on a trial basis for 14 days to test its features. You can practice creating memberships, generate a schedule, and see if its workout tracking is of use to your business.

If you decide Zen Planner is right for you, after subscribing they’ll provide three onboarding sessions in which a support team member will guide you via video chat and screen sharing through the process of setting up the software to match your gym’s needs. Once you’re in business, you can access more help through Zen Planner’s extensive library of online tutorials.

Zen Planner demo signup

 

User Perspective

Zen Planner’s reputation is generally very good with positive ratings from the well-known review sites Capterra (4.5 / 5), GetApp (4.3 / 5), and Finances Online (9.5 / 10).

Browsing the many user ratings, a couple of trends stand out:

Users who rate Zen Planner the highest focus on the topics of customer service and value for the money.

The Best…

“Customer service is always top notch. If a representative can’t answer your question, they’ll research and provide a solution usually by the end of the day.”

“Support team is great, and really helps in the onboarding process. They are very fast in response time and give many options for helping solve situations.”

For users who gave Zen Planner poor ratings, the focal points were technical functionality or trouble with individual features pertinent to their specific business. The same users account for the rare customer support complaints reporting being let down when seeking help for their issue.

The Worst…

“Our gym runs about 250 sessions per week. They’re all different. ZP’s workout builder does not work for this. We were spending ~3 hours per day inputting workouts. It could not scale. So now we do not track workouts in the software.”

“The needs we stated for our business were simple and we were assured that Zenplanner could perform them. Going through the onboarding process was like repeatedly being told ‘no it can’t do that’ and ‘sorry, no it can’t do that either’.

In summary, Zen Planner seems to check all the boxes for gym owners who use very simple operating models in their business. Those with only a couple membership types and exclusively group classes (the easiest to set-up) have the best experience.

However, if your gym’s day-to-day needs would involve some of the more specialized features Zen Planner advertises, it is worth thoroughly verifying prior to committing to the service.

Pricing

Zen Planner features a tiered pricing model based on your gym’s number of active memberships. An active membership would be any person in your database as a member, even if their membership is on hold or has a past due balance. Not included are people saved in your database as prospects or alumni of your gym.

Zen Planner offers both month-to-month and annual payments, the latter entailing a discount of roughly $20-30 each month depending on which volume tier your gym falls in.

Top Direct Competitors

In fitness facility management software, some of Zen Planner’s top competitors are:

MindBody, one of the most widely used platforms due to its compatibility in multiple industries.

Exercise.com, the only software offering complete custom-branding for your business’s online platform and mobile apps.

Virtuagym, a lower-price software option for gym owners not necessarily seeking the full array of features of an all-in-one platform.

The Bottom Line

For small businesses in the fitness industry looking for software to manage their gym, Zen Planner is worth a look. While it has all the basic necessities like billing and reports covered, you’ll need to closely examine whether its more specialized features meet your needs as they are not universally applicable or reliable.

It’s a serious decision when choosing how your gym will run and what tools will help make it a success. Don’t leave anything to chance and settle for nothing less than what’s exactly right for your business.

 



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