Member onboarding best practices

Managing members is a well-known science but Maker Spaces have their particularities. Unlike digital services where you sign up and start using the service right away, maker spaces require the customer to be physically present. While some Maker Spaces require all customers to perform training and/or safety vetting, others choose to waive that requirement if proficiency can be demonstrated.

Members come and go and for that reason it is important to have a member onboarding process in place.

Member onboard process step 1: The sign-up process

The member sign-up process should be as seamless as possible. You need to collect the information that is required to run your maker space and avoid collecting unnecessary information. A Maker Space typically will be collecting the following:

  • First and last name

  • Phone number

  • Email

  • Home address

  • Member emergency contact name and phone number

Liability waiver

Maker Spaces may be exposed to liability due to improper maintenance of tools, unsafe handling of materials or improperly trained members. It is important to clearly inform your members the risks the space, tools and materials pose to their health and safety. For that reason, you’ll need to have a liability waiver in place, ideally signed off by a lawyer specifically designed to deal with the inherent risks associated with your space.

Privacy policy

Collecting personal information is a hot topic in the internet age. It is important to have a privacy policy in place and make sure your processes adhere to its clauses. If you have a community run, co-op-based Maker Space, it is especially important to outline what information you collect, how it will be stored, how you intend to use it and who has access to it.

At Maker Space Platform we allow Prospective Members to sign-up online directly on your website. If you have setup one, they’ll have to accept the liability waiver first and then provide the information that you deem necessary such as name, address, phone, email or contact information.

Prospective members are not active by default. In order to get access to your space, they’ll be typically required to perform additional steps such as visit your location, confirm their identity, make sure the payment has gone through and be subject to a safety vetting or training.

Member onboard process step 2: Choosing a membership type

When setting up a Maker Space you’ll need to think what kind of access you want your members to have. In this subject we’ve seem a variety of approaches.

24x7 access: memberships granting full time access. This membership type usually requires you to provide members with keys and alarm codes to your facilities.

Time restricted access: memberships granting time restricted access such as Monday-Friday 12pm to 9PM.

Drop-in: memberships granting day access are valuable to members who don’t come to your space regularly and often prefer to pay by day usage or purchase day pass packages.

Spouse: memberships linked with a primary member granting limited supervised access to your facilities.

Student: memberships designed for students provided at a discount value.

Associate or Supporting Member: memberships associated with members who contribute to the maintenance and/or operations of your space.

Make sure to carefully outline your business model based on how you want members to use your space. Choosing a membership type is part of the sign-up process so make sure the general public and your members understand their options.

At Maker Space Platform you can create as many membership types as you want. Membership types are assigned to members when their accounts are activated.

Member onboard process step 3: Safety vetting

Maker Spaces often pose serious risks to members. Some tools when unproperly used can unleash life altering injuries or death. Proper vetting or training needs to be provided to members for all or parts of your space.

A common strategy for many Maker Spaces is to provide basic vetting that would allow general access to a certain area with restrictions in place. For instance, a general woodwork vetting would make sure members can safely operate all the power tools such as table saw, band saw, routers, planners, jointers, etc.

You could restrict certain tools or activities and require additional vetting. For instance, switching blades on a table saw or bad saw, depending on your model, would require additional vetting.

Similarly, a metal shop would have a general metal shop vetting with additional vetting required for MIG welding or plasma cutting.

At Maker Space Platform you can create and assign certifications to your members. This feature allows to easily track what each member can do in your space. You can see a high-level overview of our certification module here.