Membership Agreement: Why Your Organization Needs One & What You Should Include
Members are the lifeblood of gyms, studios, and other types of wellness facilities. Making sure you've nailed down the process of enrolling new members and serving your existing members is the key to success. A well-written membership agreement is one of the best ways to ensure you meet member expectations while protecting your business. The following guide takes a deep dive into what a membership agreement is, why you need one, and how to create an agreement that works well for your organization.
What Is a Membership Agreement?
A membership agreement is a written agreement between an organization (like a gym, fitness studio, or specialized school) and a member. It typically describes the terms and conditions for how the facilities, products, or services can be used in exchange for an agreed-upon fee. Membership agreements also usually include details about how the agreement can be terminated.
Why Do You Need a Membership Agreement?
A membership agreement is more than just a contract; it also serves as a helpful resource for both parties. If there's ever a question about what either party is owed or what is expected, it's easy to avoid conflicts by referring back to the membership terms outlined in the agreement.
A well-written membership agreement will:
- Establish expectations for members regarding the benefits and services they will receive
- Explain the payment schedule and any consequences for missed payments
- Establish permitted reasons for canceling or pausing a membership
- Explain the organization's rules and regulations or bylaws dictating behavior expectations (ex. anti-harassment policy)
- Provide information regarding the organization's right to terminate the agreement
- Explain the consequences of breaching the agreement
- Explain any other relevant terms and conditions
When you have a detailed agreement in place, you'll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing it will cover just about any member issue that may arise.
How Do You Write a Membership Agreement?
While you could create your member agreement from scratch, it's often far more accessible to start by using a club membership agreement template. This will help you ensure you've included all of the relevant information.
While each organization is different, you'll generally want your agreement to include all the following.
1. Parties to the Contract
Your agreement should include the name of your organization, your contact information, and the member's name and contact information. If the agreement applies to a specific branch of your facility, be sure to add these details.
2. Membership Privileges
The agreement should also outline the products and services included in the selected membership level. It may also include your facility's opening hours, information about the availability of teachers or trainers during specific hours, and any limits to the number of classes or other perks a member can access. If the contract is for a limited amount of time, specify this as well.
When drafting this part of your membership agreement, ensure the language is clear and concise so you don't overwhelm the member. However, it's also important to be detailed enough, so you don't leave any room for misinterpretation.
3. Fees, Pricing, and Participation Requirements
In this section, you'll clearly spell out the membership fees and any other payments the member must make. It should also explain the penalties for failure to pay and the circumstances that allow a member to freeze or cancel their membership.
If the contract has automatic renewals, it's also important to spell this out and ensure it includes the deadline for canceling memberships before automatic renewal is charged to their credit card.
4. Restrictions, Rules, and Regulations
Next, you'll provide information about expected standards of behavior and behaviors that are not tolerated. Also include an outline of the member's obligations to your facility and your organization's obligations to its members.
5. Waiver of Liability
Adding a liability waiver to your membership agreement helps protect your business from lawsuits in the case of an injury. This section of your agreement requires members to acknowledge the risks and dangers of using your equipment and participating in the activities you offer and that they agree not to hold you responsible if they sustain an injury.
6. Credit Card Authorization
If you plan to charge a member's credit or debit card, the agreement should specify that they authorize you to charge their card for the amount listed in the contract.
7. Terms and Conditions
The final section of your agreement should contain any additional terms or conditions related to your agreement. You may also want to mention that applicable laws apply.
8. Signature and Effective Date
At the bottom of your contract, there should be a section for the member to sign, indicating that they have read, understood, and agree to the terms of the agreement. It should also specify the effective date of the contract.
How Are Membership Agreements Executed?
At one time, the bulk of membership agreements were hard copy forms. The member would receive one copy while the facility kept the other for their records. While some facilities still use this method, most agreements are executed digitally today. This can streamline the process, add an extra layer of security, and make your facility far more efficient.
Automate Your Membership Management with MyStudio
If you don't already have an agreement document in place, you may consider using a sample membership agreement to draft your own. However, having your legal team look it over before you start using it is still a good idea. This will help ensure it includes all the necessary information and is worded in a way that makes it enforceable and limits your liability.
Once your agreement is finalized, it's time to start integrating it into your business practices. MyStudio's Membership Management Platform makes it easy to execute and file your membership agreements, process payments, handle class registrations, and more. To see how we can help your business, take a look at our product options and start your free trial today!
Membership Agreement FAQs
Is a Membership Considered a Contract?
If an individual agrees to membership but has not signed a document, then there is no enforceable contract. However, if an organization has a signed membership agreement, this is generally considered a contract.
What is the Difference Between a Membership Agreement and a Contract?
The difference between an agreement and a contract is that a contract has features that make it legally binding. This includes offer and acceptance, mutual consent, consideration, competence, and legal purpose. If a membership agreement has all of these elements, it is considered a contract and is therefore legally enforceable.
How Can a Membership Agreement be Terminated?
A membership agreement may be terminated by either the member of the organization. The agreement should explain the circumstances under which it can be terminated and the consequences for terminating before the end of the membership period.
How Many Pages Should a Membership Agreement Be?
There is no minimum or maximum number of pages for a membership contract or agreement. However, it's essential to ensure it's long enough to provide all of the relevant information clearly and concisely. You'll also want to avoid creating a contract that is so long it overwhelms or intimidates the member. A membership contract template can help you create a professional-looking contract that covers all the important details without being too long.