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Zen Planner vs. MindBody: Which is Best?

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know I talk all about how you HAVE to be working on things (at least ONE thing every day) that will move your business forward.  

Any hopefully, these are things that:

  1. You’re really good at and
  2. You LOVE doing.

This isn’t a news flash… but you’ll be surprised how many business owners get caught in the day-to-day and aren’t working in their 5%. 

Is chasing down expiring memberships, tracking client attendance, and spending time compiling reports on your “I love this!” list?

I didn’t think so.

Those tasks are what I call “busy work” because if you’re doing them…that means you’re working IN your business, not ON it.

The thing is, you need all of that data so you can really understand what’s going on in your business at a fundamental level. So, what are you supposed to do to avoid being overwhelmed by gathering and tracking all that data?

Let Software Do The Work

I am a huge fan of client management systems (aka CMS) – you know, systems that track memberships, payments, attendance trends, payroll, and more. They take care of the “grunt” work for you, giving you access to tons of great data that you can use to refine and grow your fitness business.

Two of the most popular choices out there for fitness businesses are Zen Planner and MindBody. But which one is right for you?

The reality is, it comes down to a matter of personal preference and what you specifically are looking for.

Because the choice can seem overwhelming, I’m going to break down the pros and cons of both of them, but I highly recommend that before you pull the trigger, you contact the companies to get a feel for what they offer, as they both are constantly updating and upgrading their services.

From experience, I can tell you that it is a MASSIVE pain moving from one to the other, so make sure you do your homework upfront and keep your big picture goals in mind as you decide. 

It also doesn’t hurt to try out a free demo. Zen Planner offers a free 15-day trial, and it’s never a bad idea to ask others to test-drive their service before buying, either.

Zen Planner vs. MindBody: 6 Factors to Consider

1.  Cost:

For many of us, pricing can be a make-or-break issue. But here’s something to remember: your time is valuable, and these services still cost a fraction of what you’d pay an assistant to do the work for you.

Zen Planner: With ZP, the monthly subscription price is pretty straightforward. It’s based on the number of active members your fitness business currently has, and it includes the cost of payment processing (which saves you $$$ in fees).

Here’s a breakdown of the pricing tiers:

  • Up to 50 members: $80
  • Up to 100 members: $100
  • Up to 200 members: $120
  • Up to 400 members: $140
  • Over 400 members: $155

Zen Planner also has introduced an upgrade that includes a customized website that’s fully integrated with its system, which carries an extra $149 monthly cost if you choose to use it (it’s completely optional).

With the monthly fee, you get access to virtually all of ZP’s services and features: automated marketing emails, reports, membership and client tracking, apps, and lots more.

MindBody: rather than a members-based fee structure, with MB your monthly subscription is based on which features you choose, with costs ranging from $75 to $290 a month.

$75/mo – Basic help with managing your business from any device: scheduling classes and appointments, managing your staff (including payroll, tips and commissions), selling your services, and tracking any inventory you might carry).

$125/mo – All of the above, plus the ability to schedule special worships and promotions, create additional reports to track client trends, sales, staffing issues and more, and you get an embeddable interactive schedule for website or Facebook page.

$195/mo – All of the above, plus automated emails and texts to boost client retention and access to more reports on your phone.

$290/mo – The above, plus custom mobile apps and access to online business courses.

2. Ease of Use For You

Both companies have made big strides in this area, and both offer pretty extensive on-boarding processes and training to help you get your business set up in a way that works for you.

Even if you’re a technology wiz, I highly recommend spending some time both on the phone and online with a support person when you first start using client management software so you can get everything (classes, memberships, payroll, etc.) set up properly. Otherwise you might end up having to backtrack and redo your work, which is a giant time waster.

Zen Planner: For me, Zen Planner takes the cake!  It’s a lot more user-friendly to set up than MindBody.  

Once you’re into the control panel, it’s super easy to navigate through all the different areas: clients, membership types, reports, and more.

***It’s SUPER IMPORTANT to note that Zen Planner is designed more for Group Fitness businesses, rather than Personal Training. 

Zen Planner (at least at the time I’m writing this) doesn’t have the ability to rollover unused training sessions from month to month…. which can mean extra admin work to adjust and manually track sessions.   

MindBody: With all of its different levels of service, MindBody can be a little clunky to learn to use, but if you set them up correctly and master them, they are extremely powerful.  MindBody tracks both group and PT effectively. 

3. Ease of Use For Your Clients

If an online tool won’t work for your clients, they won’t use it, plain and simple – especially if they’re not techie. And if they don’t use it, it can mean extra work for you.

Both ZP and MB offer easy online booking options, as well as membership payment and tracking for clients.

Zen Planner: If you don’t go with the new upgraded integrated website offered by Zen Planner, you still have access to a scheduling page that you can link to from your website, which allows clients to book sessions/classes and pay/track their membership and attendance.

Zen Planner has also rolled out a mobile app that’s constantly being updated, which allows clients to see your calendar, reserve a class, track their workouts, manage their account, and more. It also has an easy-to-use staff app.

MindBody: MindBody offers a number of apps aimed at both consumers and businesses, which can be integrated into your website, even with some cool widgets for your WordPress-based site. The check-in app lets clients easily sign up for sessions and manage their memberships/accounts.

4. Payment Processing

Zen Planner: You have the option to go with Pay Simple or other processors, that tend to be a little more competitive than MindBody.  

MindBody: There are a couple of options when it comes to payment processing fees, either as a pay-as-you-go fee (which is higher, starting at 2.75 percent) or a monthly fee, which starts at 1.79 percent (plus a $9.95 monthly service fee).  Because you don’t have a choice but to go with their in-house processor, I’ve noticed that the fees are a little higher than what more competitive companies charge for processing. 

5.  Reporting

If you aren’t making use of your software’s reporting abilities, you are really missing out!  These reports allow you to track important variables that let you see where your business is doing amazing – and where it needs a little more work.

Some of the most important reports I used in my fitness business were:

  • MIA report – this customized report pulled names of clients who hadn’t attended class in the last 7 days.
  • Location revenue – we tracked specific monthly revenue for each of our locations.
  • Challenge Totals – since we ran a lot of challenges, this custom report tracked how each one performed.

Zen Planner: I preferred Zen Planner’s report capabilities. They have several pre-set ones (like expiring memberships, income received, etc.) that allow you to just plug in the dates and get the numbers you need.

Not only that, but it’s super easy to create custom reports and save them for later use.

MindBody: This software also has incredible reporting capabilities, although to get some of the more advanced reports you have to get an upgraded level of service.

6. Support

They both have pretty GOOD (not great) support, both when it comes to setting up your account to dealing with any problems you might experience.

Zen Planner: You’ll get several on-boarding phone calls to help you get your account setup properly. This can be make-or-break because getting your  membership types and programs set up properly can be a little tricky at first, and if you don’t get them right you will have to redo a lot of your work.

There’s also an extensive online support suite to help you solve common problems.

MindBody: MB also helps you with initial setup, but if you want to skip that altogether, for an extra fee they’ll get your business all set up for you in their system. 

So, Which One Should You Use?

Personally, I found Zen Planner to be the best fit for my fitness business – and that was even before they added a bunch of cool features like their updated staff and customer apps.

It was easier to set up and use, and I was able to make use of the reports right out of the gate.

But as we all know, the best fit for one business is not always the best fit for another, so be sure to weigh out your options. I recommend getting on the phone (yes! talk to a live person!) to ask the important questions and get a feel for what each company has to offer.

If you want to find out what other fitness business owners have said about software and what they recommend…this topic comes up a LOT in my Fitness Business Freedom Formula Facebook Group!  here are a few great posts where people have shared their opinion also.  

—-> Click HERE to find a list of over 10 threads in my Facebook Group of fitness pros talking about Zen Planner vs. MindBody (and even a few others).  

Hope you find this helpful!  Make it a productive day!

Alicia 🙂 

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