Simplify Your Membership Types and Simplify Your Entire Business - Motionsoft

I have spent the last 11 years migrating health clubs from one software platform to another. I’ve touched data conversions using virtually every membership management system in our industry, and the mistakes that I see clubs making are consistent across the board, no matter who your software provider is. What I’ve also found interesting is, that it doesn’t seem to matter if you’re a small, single site operator, or one of the largest enterprise organizations in the Health and Fitness Industry…almost all of them are making the same mistakes. Luckily, I don’t just offer constructive feedback, I also come fully equipped with proposed solutions.

I have yet to do a data conversion that didn’t result in some sort of membership type consolidation. Membership types seem to drive so much of our business; it usually determines pricing, level of access, and more. It’s also the thing that most clubs want included in reporting. Membership types serve a valuable purpose, but only when properly used. A club should not have hundreds, or even dozens, of membership types. It makes reporting much more confusing, confuses the salespeople and makes system configuration more difficult. The larger organizations that I’ve worked with, typically tend to have the fewest membership types and it is much easier to manage and train on.

I think that we got into this bad habit because legacy systems did not have the ability to offer promotions or discounts unless it was a unique membership type. Guess what? Most systems have these things today and there is no longer a need to create a unique membership type for every change in pricing. It’s okay, I’ll give you a minute to let that soak in….

My suggestion would be to keep it simple. Your members should be classified into whatever unique membership types are necessary and should not have anything to do with pricing. For example:

Gold Primary Member

Gold Add-On Member

Silver Primary Member

Silver Add-On Member

Bronze Primary Member

Bronze Add-On Member

Off Peak Member


These membership types should determine:

  • What access the member has to the club (days or times they can use the facility, if they have access to the whole facility or only specific parts)
  • What amenities are included in their membership (Gold, for example might include Specialty Group-Ex classes but Silver doesn’t)
  • If their membership type qualifies them as a member or not (if you don’t count employees in your member count, they should be classified with their only membership type, so they can easily be filtered out)
  • If they are a primary or add-on member (mainly because this makes it easier for the salespeople and front desk staff to sell and manage members with no confusion about roles)

Notice how none of those bullets had anything to do with pricing? Let’s get more complicated with this. Now, let’s say that your club wants to give a military discount. Stop creating a military membership type – totally unnecessary. Offer your military discount on any of your packages as either a flat rate or a percentage off the standard package price. Now your memberships will start to look like this:

Gold Primary Member

Gold Primary Member

  • Military Discount

Gold Primary Member

  • Teacher Discount

Gold Primary Member

  • Senior Discount

By doing this instead of having unique membership types, you’ll now be able to do the following: 

  • See exactly how much of a discount you’re giving to members, because instead of just having a price that’s lower than rack rates, you’re actually associating that discount with a discount or promotion and can financially report off of it.
  • You can stop and start promotions without having to rewrite a membership type. Pppphhhheeeewwww…..did I just blow your mind?
  • When you update your pricing, you only have to update your gold primary pricing. If you’re giving a flat rate or percentage off of standard rates, you have one membership type to update and everything is much easier.

I do have to warn you though, if you implement these changes today, the following is likely to occur. Your controller will be able to understand why Joe paid $199 for an enrollment fee and Mary only paid $29. The person responsible for managing these membership types, promotions and pricing in your system, will have a much easier time now. Your marketing team will appreciate a simple, clean way to display and promote membership types. And if your team is happier, chances are, you’ll be happier too.