While it might not be the most glamorous topic, having a reliable software solution is essential for each and every recreation center. From membership sales and sport club dues, to equipment rentals and facility scheduling, a dependable software is crucial for keeping your recreation center running like a well-oiled machine.
But with numerous software companies to choose from, it can be hard to decide which one is the best fit for your facility. To help, several recreation professionals discuss their experience with various software companies. They answer some of your most pressing questions, like what to look for in a software company, and highlight a few of the benefits of working with each software solution.
What are some of the things you use the software for in your facility? “For us, we use CSI for intramural sign ups and membership sales,” said Janice DeMonsi, the Director of Recreation at Santa Clara University. “In addition we use if for locker rentals, point of sale and we also use it to take club sport dues.”
What are some of the benefits of the software? “When we were looking for a software in 2007, we didn’t have a system in place, so we have seen a huge increase in guest pass sales and we can keep better track of the money being processed at the front desk,” explained DeMonsi. “Having all the data there has been extremely helpful.”
What advice would you give others about choosing a software company? “It is really important to talk to the people that are using it and get honest feedback. Every software company is going to sell you their product. They are going to make everything sound great, and in most cases they are, but there are still little things that could be better.”
What are some of the things you use the software for in your facility? “We use it for our club sports roster management, waivers, schedules, results and things like that,” said Tom Rand, the Associate Athletic Director at Brandeis University. “Then we use it for our facility scheduling, so online reservations as well as administratively, we schedule all of our facilities with it. Then we use it for our equipment checkout at the front desk.”
What are some of the benefits of the software? “I love working with them because it is very customized,” explained Rand. “You tell them what you need and what you want and if they don’t have it, they will design it. It is very user-friendly. Overall it is very functional for what we need.”
What advice would you give others about choosing a software company? “Definitely sit down with the company and discuss what your needs are and what they can do to help you,” he added. “Then consider price. From what I understand, DSE is very affordable compared to some of the other bigger companies out there.”
Why did you originally choose to work with Active Network? “It was a huge improvement from the ‘homemade’ software we were using before,” said Connie Benson, the Director of Recreation at George Mason University. “It made the facility operations much more streamlined. The biggest advantage was the ability to pull reports on usage and revenue.”
What advice would you give others about choosing a software company? “Include all professional staff that will have access to it,” said Benson. “Everyone will have a different need, so include everyone in the decision. Also talk with others to find out what they are using and for what purpose. Think about what you need the software to do for your department. Originally, we purchased the software for the ability to run reports. Now, we see that it can be used for other things, like collecting club sports dues and exporting the general ledger information directly to accounting.”
Why did you originally choose to work with Innosoft? “The software was in the development stage and we contracted to be a test site, which allowed us to offer suggestions,” said Rita LaValley the Associate Director for Marketing and Technology at Ohio University. “Also a couple of their founders have recreation experience, so I felt they had good insight into what recreation facilities needed.”
What are some of the benefits of the software? “The software is very user friendly,” explained LaValley. “We use it in five different facilities with all transaction information going to one database. It can be installed on as many computers as needed.”
What advice would you give others about choosing a software company? “Don’t expect a software to do everything you need it to. Contact their partners for references,” she added. “Then consider: What is their response time to an issue? Are they available 24/7?”
Why did you originally choose to work with Maximum Solutions? “Many reasons, both driven by internal needs and then our university IT department’s wishes,” said Ron Siliko, the Senior Director of Customer Service and Facility Management at Miami University. “We wanted a cloud-based solution, and then affordability. Something we were very clear about as a staff, is thinking about the outcome that we wanted first. If we are doing a facility rental, what do we want that to look like from our standpoint, and what are we giving the customer? Then working backward with Maximum Solutions to make sure that was in place.”
What are some of the benefits of the software? “The clientele that they serve is very diverse and that is a benefit to everyone because you get different perspectives and different business needs that Maximum Solutions needs to try and serve,” explained Siliko. “Their customer service is very responsive.”
What advice would you give to others about choosing a software company? “When you have been using something for so long and then you switch to something else, what is the transfer process? We kept our old solution in the background just in case while we were rolling out the Maximum Solutions recreation management solution. I would recommend that. Then if there is any way to carry over data from one server to the other, I would do that as well.”