Last year 43 new climbing gyms opened according to an article here on Climbing Business Journal. In addition, between 1,000 and 1,500 people try climbing for the first time every day. The climbing industry is getting bigger, and your gyms member base is growing right along with it. Managing the members, payments, and everything else that goes along with a climbing gym can be tedious and timeconsuming. Thereʼs a lot of moving parts. Luckily we live in a modern world where computer software can do most of the heavy lifting. But can the current software options for climbing gym management stand up to the growing needs now, and into the future?
Before we can answer that question, letʼs back up a bit.
My name is Nick Haskins, and Iʼm a climber living in the mountains of Boone, NC. In 2017, I was introduced to climbing through a friend, then quickly discovered the history of bouldering in the area. I found an amazing local gym, with a great community, and was hooked. I even brought my wife and kids into the sport, and weʼve all been climbing and training ever since. This summer, weʼll be setting off in an RV driving around the US hitting all the best bouldering spots.
When you spend a lot of time at the local climbing gym, you tend to make a few friends. And when you have kids that climb in the local comps, you get to talking to a lot of different gym owners. As a software developer, I started to get curious on what systems were in place to manage these gyms, their memberships, and payments. When I was shown the software that they use, I was really disappointed by the UI, and how common actions seem to take several steps. I strongly believe that software can be both beautiful, and functional. I practice this methodology every day withe the web applications I manage. I know whatʼs possible through both minimal design, and a great user experience.
I started to talk more with owners of various gyms in the Western Carolinas. The more we talked, the more it became clear that in addition to the lackluster UI, there was a near complete lack of automation. I once sat and watched one of the owners manually collect membership dues on the 1st of every month. This doesnʼt scale very well, and itʼs truly hurting the bottom line when things like failed payments and membership changes are handled manually. Members should be able to log in and update information on their own. They should have the option (at your approval) of changing membership plans, or adding new payment methods at the very least.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and Iʼm on a mission to change it. Weʼre building houses with hammers, when what we need is a nail gun.
Say Hello to Sport Keeper
Out of the box youʼll get a simple, modern, and beautiful user interface thatʼs delightful to use across any device with an internet connection . Easily onboard new members with a built-in digital waiver system. No need for 3rd party provides. No fumbling around connecting waivers to members.
Membership payments are fully automated, including EFT based memberships with your existing ACH merchant. Failed payment notifications are handled automatically, which include guiding the member through logging into their personal portal to update or add payment methods. Once logged in members can view a report of their checkins, change memberships plans, and keep their information up to date.
All of this without you having to lift a finger.
Sport Keeper powers your front-end with a kiosk system built for touch, and designed to work on any internet connected tablet. A second system connects to a 3rd party bar code scanner, allowing your members to checkin by simply waiving their existing key fob tag. No need to print more just to move to a new software system.
Increase revenue by offering additional events like Yoga, Aerials, or Silks classes. These classes can be booked online via credit card by your members. We even handle payment receipts and transactional emails.
I designed the system to offload a lot of the manual work that you may be accustomed to doing, and to give your members tools to make the experience with your gym valuable beyond cancellation. More than that, itʼs designed to provide you with an incredible amount of insight into how your gym is running, arming you with better information when making important business decisions.
Itʼs just about completed, but before itʼs released in 2019, Iʼd love to have your feedback. We have a demo that you can dive right into and start exploring. No forms to fill out. No sales funnels. No commitments. Help us shape SportKeeper to be the next generation of gym management software. Visit us for more information at https://sport-keeper.com.
Communications specialist and poverty economist, Joe has been contributing his expertise to the global climbing industry for nearly a decade and currently manages CBJ advertising and social media. He traveled around the world as the IFSC’s community manager during Olympic inclusion as well as across the US while writing for Alpinist, Climberism, DPM and CBJ. He worked in local climbing gyms of the Pacific Northwest and West Michigan and advanced economic empowerment, educational equity, youth development and diversity programs alongside national non-profit organizations.