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Parents Appreciate Online Tools that Accommodate their Lifestyles

Convenience, Confidence and Quality Sets Your Facility Apart

“Even the first time I used Jackrabbit’s online registration, it was easy to step through the process. 4Cats attaches class costs to accounts instead of offering a direct pay option. But Jackrabbit made it simple to understand this through very direct instructions on an intuitive screen.” Drew Stainton, Parent User of Jackrabbit’s Online Registration

Online registration is an incredible convenience for parents. It helps them to quickly enroll their children in the classes that they want or need – even if they can’t go to the facility or make calls during the workday. Including access to online payment options on the site page or through a portal takes online registration to the next level of convenience because it allows everything to be taken care of in one website visit. And ensures that the child’s place is confirmed – which makes parents happy.

“I am a software developer – specifically, an interface guy – so I quickly recognized that Jackrabbit’s interface is well-designed – much better than some others that I’ve used. All the information that I needed was well-communicated and the way that I was led through the steps in the portal made sense. This is really important in interface design and not every company pays attention to it.” Drew Stainton, Parent User of Jackrabbit’s Online Registration

Jackrabbit’s online registration and portal tools give parents speed and convenience because they can:

  • Leverage the speed and convenience of the Internet to register children for classes or camps.
  • Use technology tools – even if they are not very tech savvy – without frustration.
  • Make sure that their children don’t miss out on activities because of their schedule limitations.
  • Take care of activities associated with registration, such as payment, in one easy website visit.
  • Identify spending trends and establish a reasonable budget for lesson costs.
  • Track attendance and make-ups to ensure that absences aren’t costing them extra money.

“The Jackrabbit tools that 4Cats uses make them look very professional and established. It doesn’t give me much comfort as a parent to sign my child up for an activity with a facility that just uses a PayPal link, so the portal with its integrated payment system sets 4Cats above those who don’t bother to build that in.” Drew Stainton, Parent User of Jackrabbit’s Online Registration

Online Registration Brings the Class-Based Organization into the 21st Century

Online registration is one of the most quickly expanding activities for class-based organizations. Being able to provide vital activities to customers in an on-demand format is quickly becoming a demand placed on organizations by its customers. These demands are quickly infiltrating class-based organizations. While tremendously appealing to your customers, online registration offers significant benefits to them and to you.

Online registration lets your website do all the work, freeing staff up to maintain daily business tasks.  

Online registration gets rid of the 6am lines and allows customers to register at their convenience. 

Online registration automates a previously tedious, time-consuming process and improves the accuracy of registrant information.

Online registration – popular as it is – may not be the answer for absolutely every type of class-based organization. Consider some of the basics of online registration as you’re deciding if it fits your organization.

Online Registration – Defined

In defining online registration, it may be helpful to identify what online registration is not.

Online Registration is NOT:

  • Offering a printable PDF of the application form on your Web site
  • Collecting information in a form on your website that does not connect to an enrollment database

With either of the above-mentioned processes, the registrant has no idea if the class he’s registering for is available and the registrants’ information has to be re-entered into an enrollment database.

A good online registration solution DOES:

  • Place all the information needed about the student and the parents into the enrollment database automatically (no re-keying).
  • Allow registrants to review and choose classes and any options that are available with the classes (one-time information input).
  • Give registrants the option to be placed on waiting lists for full sessions (keep students interested in class).
  • Allow registrants to pay deposit and/or full class fees (eliminate billing and collections).
  • Provide registrants with confirmation of registration and payment (eliminates confusion).
  • Allow registrants to complete registration and make payments at their convenience from home or work (make processes easier for customer).

While you want to make this process easier for you and your customers, you do not want to create problems by employing a process that automatically accepts all applications. You cannot automate complexities that often accompanying the acceptance of registrations. Your process can create a “hold” on online forms for review and enable you to quickly scan them, make your application decisions and then communicate automatic or personal confirmation to registrations.

The Decision to Offer Online Registration

Online registration’s ultimate benefit is convenience: Convenience for your customers; Convenience of a reduced registration workload for your staff.  A well-designed online registration process can:

  • Eliminate data entry and hard-to-read handwritten forms, after all, registrants type in their own information.
  • Encourage prompt registration by allowing the process to be offered directly from your web site, e-newsletters
    or emails 24/7.
  • Eliminate hard copy forms and therefore reduces your postage costs.
  • Allow your customers to be involved with a more professional organization
  • Give you a succinct and understandable view of the enrollment levels and remaining capacity across all of your classes
  • Meet the expectations of your customers

Facility owners/managers generally benefit from several factors that are driven by their use of a well-designed
online registration process:

  1. Consistent or growing registration numbers
  • Ease of process makes registration less of a “decision” since it is done at customers’ convenience
  • Rarely do customers see a drop in registration after implementing online process
  1. Significant savings for owner/manager and staff
  • During registration seasons, the staff time consumed by registration details is cut by as much as 75%
  • Automatic commitment and payment Better accuracy of information in account
  • Responsibility for account information is shifted to the parent/student.
  • Easier on parents since there is a greater window of opportunity for registration and payment options
  • Gives them choice of when and how to register
  • Gives them control over account information and payment options
  1. Heightened accuracy of information
  • Better accuracy of information in account
  • Responzibility for accout information is shifted to the parent/student
  1. Increased customer satisfaction
  • Easier on parents since there is a greater window of opportunity for registration and payment options
  • Gives them a choice of when and how to register
  • Gives them control over account information and payment options

You and Online Registration

Organizations have different types of classes and therefore make varying demands on an online registration process. You may offer short term classes in addition to classes that span a season or a year.

Often customization can be required to fit an online registration solution to your organization. The extent of your customization needs, are of course, driven by the variations in your needs. Many solutions are flexible enough to allow you to adjust its parameters to accommodate your unique needs. If your needs still fall outside of your solutions range, you may be able to engage the provider to tweak the forms to work for you for a reasonable additional cost.  You must look at the cost of any needed customizations and determine if the added cost is a good investment for your organization to make.

Online Payments Make Good Sense

Online registration doesn’t have to include online payment, but it does make sense to include payment options at the time of application submission in order to consider it complete. The simplest method of online payment is via credit card. You may also offer secure payment processing via e-check (known as Automated Clearing House, or ACH payment).

When considering online payments, Be aware of the following:

The Security of the Payment Process – Securing all data collected in an online payment process is critical. You’re collecting sensitive data from customers such as credit card numbers. The industry continues to impose more stringent handling and storage of credit card information.

There are several initiatives in place by the credit card industry:

  • Payment Card Industry (PCI)
  • Cardholder Information Security Program (CSIP)

Information Storage – You should not store credit card information unless it is absolutely necessary and if it is necessary for you to do so your storage of it must be secured.  Technically, this means that the information must be protected by passwords and encryption. If you store paper records, equivalent precautions should be taken.

The Insecurity of Email – Remember that any process that transmits this information using email is not secure and opens you up to fines levied on your organization for data that is misappropriated.

Additional Payments – You should also consider how you would issue and collect any additional payments such as those required for classes offered outside of your normal class tuition. You can always resort to mailed checks as payment in unusual situations; however, a good online system should eliminate this as a sensible option and accommodate payments that are out of the ordinary. These online options are more secure and convenient for both you and your customers.

Two options for alternative payments:

  • E-invoices with online payment option: Email invoices to customers to convey charges/outstanding balances and include a built-in “pay online link that will direct them automatically to a payment page where credit card information will be collected by the same secure system that accepts your tuition. Robust technology can do this with virtually no data entry for you or parents.
  • Preauthorized payment collection: Parents can agree to have subsequent/unique payments processed automatically upon coming due. If you’ve employed secure storage processes for credit card information, this type of payment processing can be accomplished without extra effort or cost.

Methods of Payment – Credit card and debit card payments are convenient and popular, but there is a cost associated for the organization in the form of a discount percentage fee. It may make more sense (if you’re in a situation where the cost of offering credit cards is prohibitive) to offer payment by ACH (sometimes referred to as e-checks). These are direct debits to the person’s bank account and can be less costly since they typically involve just a small per-transaction fee bank fee rather than a percentage of the payment amount. Make sure the online solutions you choose has been approved for payment processing and displays their secure certificate status for authentication.

In Closing
We have covered the basic issues surrounding online registration and payments. Detailed review of any solution that you’re considering and the confirmation of their individual security certifications is imperative. You also should be aware of use of options such as accepting and handling electronic signatures and handling secondary forms (medical data) for students.

Visit http://www.jackrabbitclass.com/features.asp and http://www.jackrabbittech.com/videos/Registering_Online/player.html to learn more about online registration offered by Jackrabbit Technologies.

Jackrabbit has solutions for gymnastics, dance, cheer, dojo, swim, music  and camps. Jackrabbit also provides solutions for child care centers through EZCareOnline.