21 Feb Software company launches PaaS and reaps long-term rewards from cloud services partnership
Intro / Summary
A leading gym management software company, Clubware, was presented with a unique business challenge that turned out to be an extraordinary growth opportunity. They needed to quickly create a SaaS delivery model with the flexibility to meet a wide range of client needs. They found the right cloud partner in CT4 and the relationship helped Clubware secure a steady and lucrative growth path.
Objective: A cloud-based solution that would help this software company stay relevant to their customer base
The challenge for Clubware began when one of their customers, a Brisbane-based gym, said they wanted to move away from using the on-premise version of the company’s software. This was in 2010, well before the massive cloud evolution that is currently taking place.
“We were approached by one of our clients who wanted to provide reciprocal access between more than one branch,” said Clubware Support Manager Mark Ford. “We quickly identified that we needed a cloud based deliver model, one that allowed us to merge the databases for each branch into a centralised database. But in order to do this we knew we needed a suitable cloud host and the right kind of partner to help us achieve this quantum shift.”
The challenge also represented a bigger call to action for Clubware, as Mark Ford notes: “This was the tip of the iceberg, a timely wake-up call. We knew that if we didn’t start to provide a more flexible solution we would start to lose clients. We weren’t in the position to do it ourselves, we didn’t have the infrastructure to host these databases and an investment of that scale simply didn’t make sense. It would have drained too much time and resources from our core business.”
A robust and flexible PaaS platform that is adaptable to different client needs
A client of the company put Clubware in touch with CT4. It was immediately clear that CT4 had a suitable and affordable hosting solution. It ticked all the boxes Clubware was looking for and at a competitive price – and a partnership model was quickly established.
This resulted in rapid expansion for Clubware as they picked up a large New Zealand franchise in 2012 followed by a successful tender for a large gym group in the UK in 2015 (that is now in the top 5 fitness facilities in the UK) and onto the USA in 2016.
“CT4 continues to support us as our needs – and those of our clients – keep changing,” said Clubware Support Manager Mark Ford. “For example we recently introduced a web API to enable our clients to integrate with 3rd party applications that complement the Clubware offerings.“
The partnership led to a review of Clubware’s core business more in line with where the industry was heading – a PaaS model. They adapted what they offered clients into a platform-as-a-service subscription that gyms sign up to on a per user/ per month cost with the inherent flexibility that comes with it.
“It was vital that we could offer different types of client engagement to suit the territories we are working in. Our partnership model ranges from one where our BDMs put CT4 forward as our preferred cloud host and where they then engage with clients directly, through to a model where clients (in the UK and USA) enter an agreement with us and have no direct relationship with CT4,” said Mark Ford.
Getting ahead of the game in a competitive marketplace
Partnering with CT4 has enabled Clubware to consolidate their position as a leader in software for gyms and fitness facilities and move streaks ahead. They can respond to market demand swiftly and also anticipate market needs and bring new products to their clients, adding enormous value to these relationships. Specific key benefits include:
• Staying relevant to tech hungry customers: Clubware’s clients are in a space that is highly competitive and always looking for ways to innovate and pass benefits onto their own customers. With the CT4 relationship Clubware are confident that they remain relevant to their client’s evolving needs and play a key role in offering new solutions.
• Expanding into different markets: As Mark Ford observes: “We started in New Zealand, tried this new model in Australia, went back to NZ, then from there launched in the UK market and in the US. We wouldn’t have had a solid product for these markets without the CT4 partnership. It meant, and still means, that we can provide a scalable solution for our clients, many of which are also growing quite rapidly.”
• Offer flexible models to clients: This was a driving concern of Clubware having keenly identified that customers were demanding flexibility around platform delivery and would not hesitate to dump providers that couldn’t keep up. Mark Ford cites the example of client that had specific demands including: a private (rather than multitenant) environment that could upscale as and when necessary, and their own replication and disaster recovery. CT4 was able to accommodate every requirement.
• Improved maintenance and support: Prior to the partnership with CT4, maintenance meant down time for clients, whether Clubware performed it on-premise or remotely. Not ideal. Mark Ford emphasises what a difference having a centralised model makes to this side of business: “The maintenance and support for our clients is a lot easier. A centralised database – we have our own logins – means we can go in and perform maintenance on each database as and when required. Maintenance without having to interrupt the client which is just invaluable.”
Words of advice from Clubware
This partnership is all about close engagement with CT4 as the cloud host and has been since day one. When looking for a partner in this space, Mark Ford has the following advice:
“Don’t back away from going into detail early on. Know your requirements and those of your clients. You need a solution of scale so make sure whoever you partner with understands that and can provide it. Find a company that provides exceptional customer service and support, like CT4.”
A relationship that will continue to foster growth
Working closely with CT4 enabled Clubware to evolve their own business model and improve standards of customer service:
“Essentially, we are a billing company, with a few software products. This has become so much more important to us and means we can provide an outstanding range of services to our customers.”
The enormous benefits of a constructive, collaborative relationship based on real understanding and shared mutual goals are apparent.
“Here we are 7 years later and we’re still working closely with CT4 and we’re both still growing.”
If you’re interested in seeing how CT4 could work wonders for your technology like we did for Clubware, take our quick assessment to receive your personalised report outlining the key areas that you may better be able to optimise your technology.