TL; DR: Upper Hand is a cloud-hosted management suite that makes running athletic facilities, fitness studios, and training academies easier. The software supports the user journey from end to end, providing one place to sell memberships, manage schedules, and take payments, among other functionalities. With forward-thinking technology and advanced analytics, Upper Hand is reinventing how business is done in the sports and fitness industry.
The health sector is undoubtedly booming with a valuation of more than $96 billion as of 2019. As a result, the stakes are high for clubs looking to muscle their way into the industry, with more than 200,000 such facilities already in existence worldwide.
One way to stand apart from the competition is through the power of technology.
“There are a lot of businesses that we’re surprised to see are still tracking things manually with pen and paper or printed spreadsheets,” said Courtney Kerr, Communications Specialist at Upper Hand. “As these organizations grow their business, increase their athlete count, or expand to other facilities, those manual processes are taking a lot of time away from training and other growth-related areas of focus.”
Upper Hand built its enterprise-grade management software from the ground up to help sports and fitness organizations manage and scale their businesses. The software’s front desk and back-office tools are designed to support the user journey from end to end, including membership sales, scheduling, and advanced analytics.
With Upper Hand, organizations in the sports and fitness sector can provide clients with an intuitive user experience, boosting customer satisfaction and encouraging repeat business. Using accessible and reliable data, the software also offers users a complete picture of their companies, empowering them to make more informed decisions.
Ultimately, through forward-thinking technology and analytics, Upper Hand works to supercharge business operations in the sports and fitness industry.
From Baseball Coach to Software Entrepreneur
Kevin MacCauley first identified the need for an online platform that linked players with instructors while coaching baseball in 2012.
“He was coaching and providing private lessons for a lot of athletes and just thought, ‘Man, there has to be a better way to engage in these types of relationships,’” Courtney said. “Less than a year later, he launched Bookacoach, a marketplace for sports lessons that helps coaches better manage their training and spend more time doing what they love — which is training athletes, not collecting checks.”
The company noticed that quite a few coaches and athletes — even after they have connected with each other — were still coming back to the platform to do business, which isn’t typical behavior in a marketplace.
“So they went and talked to customers and found out that a lot of them were just looking for a way to run their businesses easily,” Courtney said.
The team rebranded Bookacoach as Upper Hand in 2015 after adding innovative back-office features to what became a complete sports training management platform.
“We primarily started in the sports space but most recently expanded into boutique fitness studios since we’ve seen a lot of overlap between the two industries,” Courtney said. “Today, we offer a full suite of sports and fitness management software.”
Over the years, Upper Hand has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the American Business Awards’ Most Innovative Tech Company and GetApp’s Club Management Category Leader.
Manage and Grow Your Sports Organization
With no shortage of scheduling and engagement tools available on the market, Upper Hand stays ahead of the competition in the space by catering to a niche audience.
“We focus on delivering the best solutions for our customers, which includes having a product-led growth mindset and also involving our customers in the innovation process,” Courtney said. “Rather than pushing out new features just to innovate, we emphasize the root problems that our customers experience and then nail down the best possible solution to solve those problems.”
The idea is to determine what clients really need based on what they say they want.
“So it may not be a customer that comes to us and says, ‘Hey, we want this report, go build it,’” Courtney said. “It’s more of, ‘OK, we’ll go build that report, but what is the information that you’re looking to gain? How can we release a new report through our software that will solve the root cause of your issue? It’s a really great, personalized approach to solving problems.’”
The company’s philosophy on product development also includes maintaining an ongoing feedback loop with customers.
“Our product, accounts, and support teams talk to customers every day to get feedback, see how things are going, and learn how to improve,” Courtney said. “There’s an interesting dynamic between our product and engineering teams. Rather than say, ‘Hey, here’s this feature, go build it,’ we involve our engineering team in that process early on to find the best possible solution that can be delivered in the most efficient, successful way.”
All-Inclusive Payroll, Scheduling, and Communication
Over the years, Upper Hand’s strategic product development process has helped the company build a comprehensive feature set, including everything from scheduling and registration functionalities to payments, payroll, inventory, and facility management.
“Whereas a lot of time you might have to use two or three different tools to run your business, Upper Hand offers an all-in-one solution. “It’s one streamlined software you can use to manage all of your back-end administrative tasks and improve that client experience.”
Courtney said that Upper Hand’s video analysis feature, known as APEX, has proved particularly helpful during the pandemic. The robust video analysis tool accelerates client development by making it easier to capture, organize, and share videos.
The company also provides a Sports and Fitness Re-Opening Kit with templates, research, and best practices designed to help in-person facilities snap back after pandemic-related business closures.
Based on customer reviews, Upper Hand seems to be succeeding in its mission to help clubs, studios, and facilities manage and scale their businesses.
“Upper Hand has been user-friendly in its ease of use and organization,” said Freddy M. in a review on the Upper Hand website. “It has streamlined our business and helped us take the next step in our growth. We appreciate how they are always adding new features to expand their software.”
Delivered as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product, Upper Hand is licensed on a subscription basis and hosted on the cloud for an on-demand experience. The company’s tiered pricing, based on features, ranges from event management tools to configurable, enterprise-grade solutions for franchises.
Helping Users Make Smarter Business Decisions
In August, Upper Hand introduced a brand-new Membership Analytics feature that allows admins to break down factors contributing to fluctuations in recurring revenue.
The tool also provides highly reliable forecasts that estimate recurring revenue months in advance. Using the technology, users can make data-driven decisions that help their business hit — and exceed — sales and retention goals.
“Our big goal moving forward is to continue to add value and deliver the most innovative solutions on the market for sports and fitness organizations,” Courtney said.
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