Tag Archives: Steve Pinado


Tips to Increase Attendance at Your Next Martial Arts School Event – Steve Pinado

By Steve Pinado

g--marketing-photo_&_image_directory-istockphoto_photos-orangeeasybuttonIn-house tournaments and seminars are two of the more popular events our Martial Arts business owner clients run. Events like these help to create positive PR, strengthen member retention, and generate a sizeable amount of incremental revenue.

No matter the type of event you run, there are fundamental promotions and tools, that if put in place, will help accelerate sign-ups. Here are some basic, yet often overlooked, steps to promoting an in-house event:

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Why Credit Card Processing Makes Good Business Sense [& Steps to Get Started] – Steve Pinado

By Steve Pinado

describe the imageImagine a brand-new member anxiously walks into your facility, eager to buy whatever is in sight. As he stocks up on gear, ready to make his purchase, you have to break the bad news: “Sorry, we only accept cash”. The member races to find some money but only has a few bucks in his pocket. He has a credit card on hand but you don’t take credit cards. Your member leaves disappointed and you lose a sale.

Is this you? Are you missing out on opportunities to grow your business? People rarely carry cash anymore; and when is the last time you saw someone with a checkbook?

To stay competitive in today’s marketplace, you have to provide what customers demand, and that includes the convenience of paying by credit card.

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How Event Manager & Website Manager Enable Select Lacrosse to Effectively Manage Growth – Steve Pinado

By Member Solutions

istock_000009797340medium[1]I’m a big fan of Lacrosse. I love everything about it. In fact, I coach an elite Lacrosse club for boys and girls called Bucks Select Lacrosse, serve as a Board Member for the club, and I play on a Men’s Lacrosse team.

Through the years, the Select Lacrosse club has seen tremendous growth. There was a time when we were at 350 players spread across 18 teams and all registration was done manually … all on paper! Managing the paperwork and payment collection was way out of control.

That’s when I suggested we start using the Event Manager and Website Manager platform to make things easier — to automate the process. We built our Lacrosse site through Website Manager — check it out: www.bucksselect.com — then integrated Event Manager with the website so that the online registration, payment processing, and marketing/communication tools are in one spot.

Using the program, Select sign-ups are now quick and secure, and data management is much easier for the coaches.

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Member Solutions Joins the Jonas Software Family of Companies – Steve Pinado

By Member Solutions

It is with great excitement that I let you know that Member Solutions is now part of the Jonas Software family of companies. This is a fantastic development for our team, our shareholders, the Martial Arts industry, and most importantly, our clients.

You should not expect any change in the way we deliver our services to you. We will continue to promote and build the Member Solutions brand and set of solutions. We now have access to expanded resources and deep expertise to accelerate development and enhancement of all of our applications and services.

Our twenty years of commitment to serving professional membership businesses is what has made our business. Combining that commitment, our proprietary payment processing and servicing platform with Jonas’ deep expertise in application development and financial strength, creates a powerful opportunity for our people to deliver even greater value to our clients.

Dina Engel, Joe Galea and I are thrilled to continue running Member Solutions with our outstanding team that many of you have come to know so well.

Here is what Barry Symons, the CEO of Jonas Software, had to say about why they acquired our team and company. “With the addition of Member Solutions, our company immediately owns a leading position in software and full-service billing for Martial Arts studios. Our Fitness, Sports and Leisure Division continues to expand at an accelerated rate, and we look forward to seeing the same thing occur now that Member Solutions is part of our business.”

We are very proud of what our team of dedicated people do for our clients every single day. We appreciate the support, business and friendships from all of our clients and business partners. We now have the opportunity to do even more as a member of a great company that is focused exclusively on what we do, but on a broader and global scale.

Thank you for your business, and as always, please feel free to reach out to Dina, Joe or me or anyone else at our company with any questions or concerns.



Here is a little more information about Jonas.

Jonas is a leading provider of software solutions to several industries with a strong focus on membership and service categories including Club, Fitness and Leisure, Attractions and Foodservices. Jonas has over 10,000 customers, in over 15 countries worldwide. Jonas’ focus is on creating long term relationships with our customers and ensuring we meet and exceed their software and service needs. Visit Jonas on the web at www.jonassoftware.com. Jonas is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Constellation Software (TSX – CSU).

8 Keys to Effective Business Partnerships – Steve Pinado

By Member Solutions

Partnering is a critical element of nearly all businesses. We partner with employees and investors, as well as actual business partners or co-owners. Effective partnering is evident in any successful organization that requires multiple human beings to achieve its objectives.

Teams of all types require a few elements of effective partnering to be successful. Marriage and personal relationship require a focus on partnering and attention to these same elements.

The topic has been researched and published extensively in both the academic and popular press. Two titles that I really enjoy and lean on are Lencioni’s “Five Dysfunctions of Team” and Wagner/Muller’s “The Power of 2.” These and other writings focus on several critical elements of successful partnerships.

As you review the following list, reflect on your current business partnerships and employee relationships.

1)     Commitment to a Common Mission – Successful organizations rally around a common, clearly-articulated goal and vision. Team members must understand, believe and live it. This must be more than just lip service. When people say they are committed, but then take actions or make comments privately that conflict or undermine the mission, it is incredibly damaging.

2)     Unselfishness – The power of cooperation is well known to all of us. Two plus two can certainly equal well more than four when true cooperation exists. Of course, the opposite is even more truthful. One self-interested member of a partnership or team will poison the group and generate lingering animosity that will pervade the team and limit success, at best.

3)     Complimentary Capabilities – A football team’s offense could not function with two centers trying to hike the ball and also would not work without blocking, running, receiving and quarterback play. A partnership is no different. Do not go into business with someone that has yoursame capabilities and weaknesses. Partners must seriously consider the individual skills, talents, and limitations of each and then deploy each partner in a disciplined way that ensures all contribute their capabilities to the team. Trying to create a role or accept subpar performance from a partner because you want them as a partner will lead to failure.

4)     Ongoing Communication – Open, honest and frequent communication is an absolute requirement for success. Without it, team members can end up in silos, mired in the details of their function, rather than staying focused on contributing to the broader objectives.

5)     Acceptance of Differences – Put a few humans together, and you will likely find something in each of them that can annoy another on some level. People have different quirks and habits that need to be accepted and forgiven as long as they do not deter the team from its mission.  Effective partners accept human quirks and differences for the better of the organization.

6)     Forgiveness – We all make mistakes. If we don’t we are not trying hard enough. We enjoy skiing in my family, and I often say to my kids: “If you are not falling, you are not trying hard enough.”  We must forgive our partners and ourselves and create an organizational culture that encourages risk-taking and new ideas by openly forgiving when they don’t work out.

7)     Fairness – When people are treated fairly, they remain motivated and will often achieve beyond expectations. The opposite will result in demotivation, animosity, and lack of commitment. The compelling need to ensure that one’s own personal situation is fair will be present in discussions, decisions, and serve a significant distraction to the individual, thereby severely limiting the potential of the partnership.

8)     Trust – Business partnerships require trust that is built upon mutual respect, honesty, and demonstrated integrity. Without this, all is lost.

I have been very fortunate and am incredibly thankful to have great partners at Member Solutions. Together, we have enjoyed strong business growth and been fortunate to also develop deep family friendships. We have grown professionally, personally, and financially by working hard to remain focused on these critical partnership success drivers. It is not always easy, and we often have to remind ourselves to be disciplined and work hard on these core principles and the values that are behind them.

All the work and time is well worth it and offers rewards beyond business success.

Steve Pinado is CEO of Member Solutions, a leading provider of solutions to Martial Arts businesses. Before finding a home at Member Solutions, Pinado held executive roles at several Fortune 500 companies after earning his MBA at Dartmouth. He can be reached at spinado@membersolutions.com or by phone at 888.277.4409.

A Success Culture Begins with You – Steve Pinado

By Member Solutions

Business culture is one of those intangible ideas that are hard to define and conceptualize. When you have a culture that is consistent with your values and objectives, you know it and your business shows it. When your culture is negative, or counter-productive, your business will suffer and most likely won’t be a very fun place to work. Even worse, this negative culture will be apparent to your customers and show in your results.

While you cannot see it, culture is all around you. It’s the personality of your business. It is represented by the experiences of those integral to your business and success. It lies within your students, parents, employees, and very often in our industry, in your family and in you. Your culture is the combination and interaction of underlying beliefs, values, attitudes and resultant behaviors of the various people that comprise the fabric of your business. It’s present in the way people speak to each other, how you present, price, and deliver services, the process by which decisions are made, how you market your business, and what you measure and assess to determine if your business is successful.

It all begins with you. As owner and operator, you have the best ability to create and sustain a positive culture that is consistent with your objectives and values. You need to be consistent, disciplined, and honestly observant. Here are two ways that you can evaluate your current culture:

Listen — How do the various people involved in your business speak to each other? Do they speak with emotion? Do they talk about what they do and what your business does in a personal way? Do they expose information about their lives and feelings? Do they discuss their business activities and describe occurrences with words and measurements that you have guided them to use? Are those discussions consistent with how you measure success? If the answer to several of these questions is “yes”, you are on the right track.

Observe — How do people in your business interact with each other? Watch the interplay between students during class breaks. Be a fly on the wall in your parent waiting area and assess the quality of time they are spending together. Carefully consider how employees spend their time together: are their discussions open, friendly and personal? Do they enjoy meals together? Do they talk about achieving goals and measuring progress in ways that you have set out for them? If you can say “yes” to these questions, it would seem that people are enjoying your culture and it is supporting your business.

In order to create and sustain a positive culture that will drive the success of your business, there are a variety of practices you must employ.

goals22Make your goals and objectives clear and reinforce them
. All stakeholders in your business should know what you are trying to achieve. Clearly define goals for your students, employees, and yourself. All stakeholders should be connected to your overall business goals and objectives. Describe these goals in your words and use them repeatedly in your communication. Post them in your place of business, add them to the signature line of your e-mails, and work them into your phone scripts and enrollment conference dialogue.

Empower your team through ownership
. Give your team members responsibility for elements of your goals and objectives and have them report on progress. Whether it’s a class, a certain age group, parent activities, marketing functions, administrative duties or any element of your business, give people ownership of a function appropriate to their role and capabilities. Have them handle the goal and then describe how they achieved it to your team. Take that opportunity to praise, coach, and refine their performance such that it becomes consistent with the overall business objective.

. What gets measured gets done. It’s that simple. If you want something done consistently and in a certain way, measure it against a goal on an ongoing basis and constantly evaluate results and the underlying reasons for the results. Measure, analyze, recognize and adapt behavior until you are experiencing the results you want.

Creating a success culture in your business will have the dual reinforcing benefits of helping to achieve the goals and objectives you define, and creating an environment of interactions that are consistent with your values. Careful observation, honest consideration, and a sustained effort to ensure your culture is one of success, will yield great business results and make your life happier.

Steve Pinado
 is CEO of Member Solutions and has over 20 years of experience in technology-enabled financial services. Before finding a home at Member Solutions, Steve held executive roles at several Fortune 500 companies after earning his MBA at Dartmouth.  Read Steve’s other posts: Cash is King and Blame is Toxic.


How Do You Build a Thriving Team Environment? – Steve Pinado

By Member Solutions

I’m thrilled to be presenting on the topic of organizational development at this year’s Martial Arts SuperShow.  As a business leader, you have the unique ability to create and sustain a positive business culture, and I look forward to sharing ideas and insights on how to make that happen.

In my SuperShow session (Friday, July 22nd at 10:30 am – 11:30 am), I’ll review common pitfalls found in the work environment, how to correct them, and how to create a team-driven culture that will produce superior customer experiences, and greater business results.

Share Your Success Story and Enter a Raffle to Win an iPad 2!         

What do you do to inspire and motivate your staff? … Hold regular staff meetings?  … Review your business plans and goals with team members? … Empower your staff with new projects and responsibilities?

I want to hear from you!

Now through July 1st, send in your success story and let me know how you cultivate your own thriving team environment. Each submission will be entered into a raffle to win an iPad 2!*

This is your chance to spotlight your success in front of your peers and possibly walk away with an iPad. But remember: you need to be present during the seminar on July 22ndto get your chance to shine.

CLICK HERE to fill out a quick entry form. Then mark your calendar for Friday, July 22nd from 10:30 am – 11:30am.
See you in Vegas!

*You must be present during the SuperShow seminar on July 22nd from 10:30 am – 11:30 am for your success story to be highlighted and to be entered into the raffle.


Cash is King – Steve Pinado

By Steve Pinado

Cash is the lifeblood of any business. Strip away everything else, and your business is only worth the present value of its future cash flows or the money that you can keep. No matter how great your facility or programs, you’ll be out of business if you can’t pay your landlord on time. Not having enough cash to bridge business peaks and valleys is the number one cause of failure for small businesses. This article covers the essential components of the cash flow statement and provides key strategies to help.
A cash flow statement lists the beginning and ending cash balance for a specific timeframe by showing cash flows in three categories.

  1. Cash from Operations — This measures how much cash your core operations provide to your business and results from the delivery of services ― revenue from customers minus operating expenses like rent, payroll, and inventory additions. Non-cash expenses, like depreciation, are added back to this section.
  2. Cash from Investing — This measures how much cash you invested in your business to enable it to operate and includes purchases or sale of assets to be used in the business. Purchases are referred to as capital expenditures. Examples include real estate, equipment, or anything deployed over time, listed on your balance sheet, and depreciated.
  3. Cash from Financing — This measures the inflows and outflows of business capital and is the result of increases in debt (a source of cash), loan repayments (a use of cash), distributions to business owners (a use of cash), or investment dollars flowing in to the business (a source of cash).

In the example above, the business generated $25,000 [≈ Per capita income – United Kingdom, 2005] in cash from operations, invested $30,000 [≈ Per capita income – Switzerland, 2005] back into the business, and raised $10,000 [≈ Average used car]through financing activities. Subtract the investing cash of $30,000 [≈ Per capita income – Switzerland, 2005] from the positiveoperating cash of $25,000 [≈ Per capita income – United Kingdom, 2005], add the positive financing cash of $10,000 [≈ Average used car] and end up with $5,000 total cash generated. When we add that $5,000 to the $8,000 [≈ Per capita income – Russia, 2006] beginning cash, the ending cash position is $13,000. It was critical for the business to have access to cash flow from financing to operate this period because investing cash outflows exceeded operating cash inflows.

To protect and grow your business you must understand cash flow and accurately predict future monthly cash flows. Nearly all membership businesses experience seasonality with cash from operations decreasing in summer and peaking in fall. Businesses need to proactively build cash prior to seasonal decreases or have easy access to financing cash to carry them through these times. Planning for capital expenditures to replace key items like mats, signage, computer equipment, or inventory in advance of a selling season, also requires clear understanding of expected future cash flows to protect your business and make the most of opportunities.

In Martial Arts businesses, there are several strategies you can employ to positively impact cash flow each month and over time. Here are three ideas:

First of the Month — Have your members pay at the beginning of the month. Rent and other expenses are often due early in the month. Time your operating cash inflow to these outflows. When you sign a new member, collect payment for the current month upfront then set their first recurring payment for the first of the next month.

Consider Bi-Weekly Billing — Monthly tuition rates are routinely over $100per member. Factor in families with multiple participating members and you’ve got one hefty monthly bill. Offering your members the ability to pay a smaller amount every two weeks may be appealing to them. You will also end up with two extra payments each year given the 26 week calendar year.

Manage Delinquencies — Tuition payments not collected increase your accounts receivable and reduce the cash generated from operating activities. Businesses can have successful sales, deliver services well, and still have significant cash flow challenges because their customers don’t pay on time. When a customer does not pay you must act immediately. Prompt, professional and persistent action, combined with offering flexible payment options, help ensure you do not experience cash flow problems due to customer delinquencies.

Remember … cash is king! Take the time to employ these specific strategies and pay close attention to the timing and source of your cash flow. In the end, you’ll be better prepared to handle seasonal decreases, forecast monthly ending cash, and budget for expenses.

Accidents Will Happen – Steve Pinado

By Member Solutions

Other than death and taxes, there are very few certainties in life. As Elvis Costello pointed out in the song of the same name, one certainty is that, “Accidents Will Happen.” No matter how much preparation and planning, no matter how many preventative steps taken, accidents are a fact of life. When they happen at your business, it is important that you deal with them appropriately.Advanced planning and proper accident response can help reduce your insurance costs and minimize the impact on your business.


As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to lead the way when it comes to loss prevention. Your first step should be developing and maintaining a business safety or loss prevention plan.  The plan should be well thought-out and written. It’s an essential part of effective business strategy. Just as having a burglar alarm at your home gets you a discounted rate on your homeowner’s insurance policy, pre-accident planning can result in lower insurance costs.

When crafting your loss prevention plan, make sure you define your employees’ responsibilities. The loss prevention plan must also consider and support your productivity, quality and profit objectives. Also, make sure your plan is comprehensive, addressing any potential source of value loss including personal injuries, theft, property damage, etc.

Once you’ve established the plan, make sure every employee is aware of the plan and involved in loss and accident prevention efforts.

Loss Prevention Plan Structure

Now that you know what a loss prevention program should accomplish, let’s examine its structure. A basic loss prevention program should include:

  • A statement of the company safety policy with an assignment of authority and responsibility,
  • Listing of activities to identify, evaluate, prevent and control potential hazards,
  • Creation of specific safety standards regarding your business’ facilities and equipment,
  • Establishment of a premises-specific safety guidelines,
  • Compliance with all local, state and federal safety standards,
  • Execution of safety observations and inspections and implementation of a safety training program,
  • Detailed emergency response planning and instructions,
  • Specific procedures for the investigation and analysis of actual and near accidents, and
  • Periodic program review with your entire organization.

An incomplete loss prevention program exposes your business to greater risk when an accident occurs. Therefore it is vital that your program addresses each of the elements listed.

In Case of Accident — Investigate

Though you now have a loss prevention program in place to prevent them, “accidents will happen.” When they do, a critical element of your loss prevention program should be the procedure to investigate and analyze accidents. Recording and analyzing losses allows for identification of risk in specific areas, jobs, or accident types which will improve your business’ operation and correct adverse patterns.

Knowing that you need to investigate an accident — and actually conducting the investigation ― are two very different things. Despite your reluctance, if an accident occurs, conducting an investigation is critical. An investigation should be done without delay, and it should be made clear that its purpose is “fact finding,” not “fault finding.” This approach stimulates an open and cooperative response and helps your organization learn and move forward.

To conduct a meaningful, effective investigation, an accident report must distinguish between simple descriptions or symptoms and root causes in order to provide insight that prevents future occurrences. An ineffective report might say the following:

  • Description of Accident: Employee fell
  • Unsafe Condition(s): Water on floor
  • Unsafe Act(s): Employee failed to clean up water
  • Correction: Cleaned up spill

This report is useless to you and your business. At minimum, accident reports should identify causes, costs, and corrective measures as well as identify the who, what, when, where and why of the accident. Responsible personnel should be trained to avoid reports that do not address these factors. Developing specific data regarding the accident allows you to measure the effectiveness of your loss control program and, more importantly, to deal with the situation in the future if, for example, the accident results in litigation.

Following these simple steps can help keep your workplace, you, your employees, your students and their parents safer, and can help reduce the costs that accidents take on your business.

Steve Pinado is the CEO of Member Solutions. CLICK HERE to read Steve’s other blog posts.


Children of the Military: Enriching Lives through Martial Arts – Steve Pinado

By Member Solutions

Like all Martial Arts schools, your programs and activities foster stability, routine and fun for students. Did you know you can promote that same consistency and enjoyment to a group of children that may need it the most?

OurMilitaryKids.org provides tangible support to children of deployed National Guard and Reserve personnel, as well as to children of severely injured service members. Assistance is provided through grants for enrichment activities and tutoring – including Martial Arts.

Children age 3 years through 12th grade of National Guard or Reserve military personnel, either deployed overseas or severely injured, can apply and receive up to $500 [≈ Basic iPad, 2011] for every 6 months to be used for Martial Arts activities.

Thanks to Richard Vick of Premier Martial Arts – Birmingham for letting us know about this commendable program. For more information, please visit http://www.ourmilitarykids.org/ today and spread the word to your students, parents and staff.