Is your club database reliable?

October 4, 2021

Health clubs rely heavily on the data they collect on current, former and future members for a multitude of purposes; member management, billing, and marketing to name only a few. As a data-driven marketing agency, we work with health club data every day. For our processes, accurate data is imperative and what we often find is a bit of a mess, actually. And that’s what inspired this blog. It’s basic info, but worth repeating, and you’re guaranteed to find a useful nugget or two.

1. Best Practices – Data Entry

Consistency is critical.

Set standards for how data is entered into the Health Club Management Software. Emphasize the importance of properly spelling names and physical addresses. You can’t market to those with bad data, nor can you accurately attribute conversions on the back side. Internal (member-based) and external (prospect-based) marketing efforts are impacted.

Get complete information. Contact information for guests is valuable to the business. Don’t allow incomplete forms to be entered into the database. It’s worth having forms and entries audited for accuracy. Ask for phone numbers and email addresses to complete all points of communication to support marketing and club communications.

Have systems in place for data changes. This may be as rudimentary as a laminated cheat sheet with procedures and membership codes to ensure all staff members follow the same process.

Areas we find significant inconsistencies are:

- Coding Couple & Family Memberships
- Coding add-ons for Nanny, Grandparent or Caregiver
- Flagging past members who are deceased (to avoid marketing to)
- Cancellation reasons (for example, moving out of the area)
- Flagging Do Not Contact/Call/Email requests

It doesn’t matter how they’re entered, as long as it’s done consistently and it’s easy to identify the people that fall into these categories.

2. Maintaining the Database

Duplicate records are bad.

Cleaning & Deduping is another area to have procedures for that avoid duplication of data. This gets tricky. People get married and divorced, they move and have multiple email addresses.

Step one is to search for existing records before making a new entry. Duplicate records can throw off all kinds of internal reporting used to identify member behaviors like club usage, A/R history, length of membership and so on. This will become a jumbled mess of misleading information if steps aren’t taken to ensure duplicate records aren’t entered. Another area of particular importance here is retention. Truthful data is a must when it comes to establishing benchmarks around average membership life and calculating ROI.

3. Capturing Relevant Data for All Club Visitors

Guests and be-backs are future members.

One of the biggest gaps we see is that clubs don’t consistently capture the address of a guest or prospect. It’s likely due to the lack of procedures and front-line staff not understanding the importance of non-member contact information for future new member sales opportunities. The emphasis should be on collecting as much contact information from every guest or prospect that visit the club.

4. Consistency is Critical

to repeat #1

Set expectations with information, procedures, and systems that ensure all staff are entering data in the same way. Complete records include name, physical address, phone number, and email address. Nothing less should be acceptable and if a customer objects to say, providing an email address it must be flagged as such.

The answers you seek are only as good as the data it’s pulling from. Daily operations, projecting club growth, sales forecasting and member communication all depend on clean data. Regardless of how old your club’s database is, it’s never too late to implement systems that ensure accurate information is consistently entered.

The clubs we work with often thank us for our in-depth analysis of their membership records. Our processes expose areas that are lacking reliable data, which triggers action at club level to fix incomplete records and apply systems that guarantee future entries are properly made.

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