Community and recreation centers typically require a comprehensive software solution to effectively manage operations, increase member engagement, and build revenue. But how can you make sure your center software solution is up-to-par?
This guide will help walk you through all your questions about center management software. Read through everything or jump to a specific question using the navigation below:
Are you ready to read more about what center software is and how it can help your organization? Let’s dive deeper into what the best center management software can do for your community!
What is community center software?
Center management software is designed to facilitate the complex needs of all types of centers from community and senior centers to recreation and aquatic centers.
With many visitors coming and going, it is necessary for centers to have access to a comprehensive management software solution that is designed to:
- Reduce unauthorized use of member services and facilities.
- Increase accuracy of usage and reports.
- Market regular and special programming provided by the center.
Center management software facilitates the operational efficiency of the center itself, but also helps create greater engagement with members of that center. This type of software also makes it easy for members to find programs provided by the center, to sign in when they arrive, and to rent the facility for upcoming special events.
What are the best features of a center management software solution?
Self-Service Check-In Kiosk
Access to public-facing kiosks allows members to scan themselves into a center with a personalized membership ID card. This makes it quick and easy to check into pre-registered classes without intervention from the front desk staff.
A self-service check-in process not only helps save members time, but it also helps you run your center more efficiently.
Self-service check-in kiosks integrated with community center software help your organization to:
Save time and money. By reducing front desk responsibilities, your organization can omit or drastically reduce the need for a front desk attendant.
Track attendance. The attendance information from a kiosk is integrated with center management software, making it easier to record and track attendance for pre-registered activities.
Improve traffic flow. A quick check-in system helps members to sign in and go to their classes that much faster. Therefore, they’ll experience fewer lines upon arrival at your facility.
If someone forgot to register, that’s not a problem! Some self-service kiosks even enable your members to view all the available daily programs, sign up, and pay to attend.
Comprehensive Point of Sale Solution for Front Desk Staff
Not only is it important to make it easy for members to check into your facility, but you should also focus on making things as easy as possible for your front desk staff.
A comprehensive point of sale (POS) solution combines the most common customer service functions into a single modern interface to better facilitate the front desk responsibilities.
A complete POS solution should enable your front desk staff to:
- Look up members by name or membership ID card.
- Create accounts and sell memberships or passes.
- Print new membership ID cards.
- Check members into the day’s activities.
- Process in-person registrations through the online catalog.
- Process guest transactions.
- Sell merchandise and gift cards.
Comprehensive solutions such as these help to better facilitate the management of members right from the front desk of your center.
Automated Door Access Control
Facility security is a top priority for centers. Look for center management software providers that offer an automated door access control solution as an effective security measure to control the entry to certain access points within your facility.
With this feature, your staff can monitor any number of access points for your facility. This is a safety feature that can help you know who is in the building at any given time.
An automated door access control solution assists with your center’s operations because it can:
Assist with emergency response. If there is an emergency that occurs in the facility, the proper authorities can simply look at the time and date stamp to understand who is in the building.
Provide reports on facility usage. All traffic and usage data will roll up into the software’s reporting console. These reports can provide insights into who has been using the facility and how often to help guide future decision-making.
Save your organization from paying an attendant. Many centers use attendants to monitor restricted locations for security purposes. However, with an automated door access control solution integrated with the center’s software, it’s unnecessary to invest in this extra expense.
Choose a software solution that enables you to customize which staff, members, and instructors can access the various areas within your facility. Some access doors may be best opened by members, while others should be restricted to only staff.
When digital signage is a feature in center management software, you’ll have access to a new and effective marketing platform.
Digital signage is an electronic display of all the current events and activities taking place at your facility.
Access to this feature as a part of your community software enables your organization to:
- Display your facility agenda in real-time based on the events, classes, and activities from the facility calendar within your center software.
- Embed imagery and video into the signage to provide a rich experience and strong first impression when visitors enter the center.
- Save your front desk staff’s time from explaining daily activities to visitors or creating alternative methods of activity marketing.
If your center is still spending hours creating flyers to post around the facility, save time and go green. Invest in a center software solution with digital signage in order to create a rich user experience that is low-cost, hassle-free, and engaging.
Do people often rent out fields and rooms in your facility for various activities and events? Maybe the local high school dance took place at the community center last year, or a club soccer team wants to use the facility’s fields to host their annual tournament.
Facility management as a part of your center software enables administrators to manage availability of facilities, create reservation schedules, and accept online facility rental requests and payment.
Choose a center management software solution with facility rental capabilities such as:
A comprehensive calendar that displays all the existing reservations on file. It should be easy to access facility availability online, and to download and print the calendar.
Messaging to alert members of facility closures or location changes. Look for software that allows you to easily deliver messages via email and text.
Online bookings that make it easy for the public to search for facility availability and submit requests online. It should be just as easy for facility administrators to approve or deny it. Be sure the public can also pay the facility rental fee online.
Reporting that can help your organization better understand revenue generation and facility usage trends. Accurate reports help your organization understand what facilities are being underused, what types of groups are using the facilities, and where there are opportunities for expansion. It can help you make informed decisions for your community.
A streamlined reservation process will also eliminate double bookings and enable your community to get the most out of their fields and facilities.
Look for a center management software solution that allows instructors to independently manage their classes through their own instructor portal. This way, they won’t have access to the organization’s financial and confidential information located in the software’s administrative console.
This instructor management solution, such as that offered by CommunityPass, should enable your instructors to:
- Take attendance and view historical attendance for their classes.
- Print rosters in real time.
- Access class schedules.
- Message their classes via email and text.
When your instructors have more control over the management of their classes, it takes some of the burden off the administrative staff to schedule and organize for them. This, in turn, frees up your administrative team to focus on other tasks for the center.
How do you buy center management software?
Buying center management software might seem overwhelming, but the process is much easier when you have a plan in place to evaluate the software options.
Be sure your plan includes the following strategies to help guide you.
List Your Needs
Make a list of your center’s needs. Consult the different departments within your organization to develop a list to make sure everyone has the tools necessary to succeed. You will use this list to compare to the features offered from a software provider.
Prioritize the features you absolutely need today and which features you may need in the future. If your software provider offers flexible options, you should be able to easily add additional software features and solutions in the future if your center’s needs change.
Watch a Demo
Take advantage of free demos before you make a final decision about which software to purchase. A demo will show you what a software solution looks like for your registrants as well as your organization. Plus, you’ll get a sense of who the provider is and the customer service they will provide.
Understand Software Implementation Process
Make sure there is a professional implementation team that will assess your needs and lay out a schedule to get your new system up and running in a timely manner. This team should also be responsible for providing customization, integrations, data migration, and training for your team.
Be sure that ongoing customer support is included with your purchase.
Once your software is up and running, you should have access to live customer support to answer ongoing questions and take any requests you may have regarding your software solution.
To learn more about community center software and other software solutions, check out the resources below:
- Ready to Buy Recreation Software? Look for These 7 Features. If you’re looking for a comprehensive recreation software solution, read about these 7 essential features before you decide to buy.
- Double the Donation’s Top Cvent Competitors. Is your center hosting an event? You’re not limited to just Cvent for the event planning process! Check out these top Cvent competitors by Double the Donation.
- CommunityPass Software Features. Learn more about the software features offered by CommunityPass and how it can help manage your center.