Posts

10 Ways You Can Use Technology to Minimize Distractions

Technology has definitely changed the way organizations work. It opens the door for amazing access and capabilities that help us to be more productive – in spite of its addictive distractions.

A 2014 survey by Pew Research Center reported that technology has had a positive and lasting impact on worker efficiency. “Forty-six percent of employed online adults say the Internet has made them more productive at work, while just 7 percent believe it has made them less productive.”

It takes discipline to keep ourselves above the distractions and out of the mire of Facebook feeds and using the apps, programs, and tools that help us to do our jobs better.

And as children’s activity center owners and managers, distractions are amplified. You have employees, parents, students and vendors vying for your attention – and all while you’re trying to get real work done. Using technology tools to manage various components of your work helps you to keep work organized so that minute-by-minute distractions don’t derail your focus.

Technology minimizes menial tasks and allows us to focus on meaningful projects.

We referenced discipline for a reason. Without it’s highly possible that you could find yourself still going through your Inbox at noon or sucked into Facebook for hours on end.

Entrepreneur Magazine is a great resource for business tips. We recently uncovered a list of 10 ways that you can minimize distractions and supercharge your productivity.

  1. Keep email in check.

Email can easily get out of hand. That’s why the flooded Inbox can be so devastating to your productivity. It takes hours to find anything without organization and management. There are tools to help with this: try Sanebox. It’s also recommended (by self-help guru Tim Ferris) to check email only twice a day to limit it from interrupting your schedule.

  1. Curate your to-do list.

What does this mean? It means to avoid the generic when you’re making your to-do lists. This minimizes the never-ending laundry list that is filled with trivial tasks that may seem impossible to complete. Large projects should be broken into smaller, easy-to-tackle parts. There are services that can help with this: Asana or Trello allow you to arrange, categorize and weigh the importance of specific tasks to enable you to better manage your priorities.

  1. Read faster.

Average adults read approximately 300 words per minute. That’s also the rate at which we can comprehend and process most texts. That said, there are plenty of opportunities where you might want to quickly read (or skim) documents. Sites like Eyercize or Spreeder allow you to copy-and-paste text to power through longer articles or books.

  1. Invest in email tools.

You will run into occasions when you will want to follow-up or reach out to people en masse. To do this efficiently, you need tools. There are email marketing services that can help with this: Customer.io, Klaviyo or Vero.

  1. Put social media on a schedule.

You can’t invest the time it takes to engage with your Twitter followers or respond to every Facebook alert. There are apps to help you schedule posts so you can do weeks of work in one sitting: Buffer, Foster.fm and Tailwind help you have a presence without sinking hours a day into managing it.

  1. Take keyboard shortcuts.

Leave your mouse alone. Keyboard shortcuts cut your reaction time way down and allow you to speed up your workflow. It’s hard to imagine this at first, but experts (such as Coding Horror author Jeff Atwood) note that this is one of the quickest ways to increase your productivity on the computer.

*If you spend a lot of time in Excel, learn the shortcuts for that program too.

  1. Track your time.

How much of your valuable time you spend on various activities can be a frightening realization when you begin to track your time. Doing this gives you the metrics you need to quantify your hours and prioritize your activities You get self-awareness about your computer usage habits that diminish your productivity and gives you the metrics you need to prioritize your activities. Tools that help you regain control of your time are Due, RescueTime or Wrike.

  1. Use templates.

We’re creatures of repetition who waste lots of time doing actions over and over again. Technology enables us to eliminate redundancies. Sure, it’s easy to type the same copy into several emails, but creating templates that give you all of that repetitive information automatically can save hours in typing and proofing emails.  Business documents don’t necessarily need to be created from scratch each time- especially when templates can speed up the process of creating the document you need and produce more accurate results.  It’s sort of the same theory as not re-inventing the wheel. Take advantage of existing emails and documents to streamline your work. This has the bonus of also giving your business brand consistency.

  1. Work in the cloud.

We work from everywhere now. In the office, at home, while at conferences and shows and even on vacation. Having data and the apps used in the cloud is a tremendous productivity booster. Whether you’re logging into your email marketing app or revising a document in cloud storage, you save time by being able to access everything you need to get real work done regardless of where you are.

Services like Box, Dropbox and Google Drive make it easy for consumers and businesses to securely save and store documents, spreadsheets and presentations they’ll need to stay productive wherever they are.

  1. Ban it from the bedroom.

You might make a face at this one at first. But think about it. Leaving your phone, your ipad, your laptop in your office (or simply out of your sleeping quarters) helps you to get better rest by quelling your temptation to check email one last time or just put one finishing touch on a spreadsheet. A rested you is more productive at everything you do the next day. Checking your email when it is supposed to be your “downtime” also drives your significant other crazy.

Technology is powerful, but it is a double edged sword that we have to keep under control so that it remains a benefit and doesn’t become a distraction.

Read the original article (without my interpretations and comments), published at Entrepreneur.com and contributed by Firas Kittaneh, Entrepreneur and CEO at Amerisleep.

Business-Altering Benefits for Swim Schools

Class registration can consume more time and energy than anyone would like to believe – but not if online automated enrollment processes are used!

Streamline Processing

Instead of hours of tedious work, management staff can enjoy watching alerts from web registrations  stream in without requiring that they lift a finger. Parents are in control of their own information so accuracy levels soar.

Even small schools find online registration processes beneficial because they open access to information about their enrollment that helps owners and managers know how to deliver better services and work more productively. Growth efforts are unrealistic without the efficiencies that online registration drives. Just think of how it would work for a lean staff handling 400 students to be faced with a 1400 student enrollment. It just couldn’t reasonably happen without technology.

Elate Parents

Also consider your school’s parents. They can enroll and pay for the classes they prefer their children to take in their PJs at midnight if they so desire. You provide them with modern, secure, convenient enrollment options and they will choose you over your less-tech savvy competition because of it. This differentiator alone helps your school to grow and build loyalty with existing families.

Delight Staff

Online registration will amaze and delight your staff because they will be saved from marathon-type hours of data entry that can bring the front office to a screeching halt. Classes that were just opened for enroll one night can have a waiting list by morning with no effort from staff. The online process takes human involvement out of the areas where it shouldn’t be and allows it to be focused in areas where it should be. Suddenly there is time for more teaching, building relationships and growing the business.

Offering online registration options isn’t complicated. It something that even the smallest organization can do. Just don’t do it alone.

Good business management software offers online registration features that you need to win the hearts of parents. If not, click here.

Read about a couple of schools who know that online registration has been a business-altering force for them: Charlotte Aquatics   Chicago Swim School

Barron Gymnastics Uses Technology to Heighten Efficiencies Without Losing Personal Touch

Barron Gymnastics needed to move to a web-based class management but the owners had concerns about the cost associated with implementing software. They also had concerns about the impact online processes would have on its face-to-face customer relationships. How quickly they would be able to see return on the investment in the new system? How would they maintain their connection with customers if they weren’t talking to them each month when they collected payments?

“Changing to Jackrabbit has made a big difference in our efficiencies. Automated processes – like online registration – take staff out of the data entry process and give them more time for interacting on a personal level with families.” Joe Barron, Barron Gymnastics

VALUE OF ONLINE PLATFORM QUICKLY REALIZED | Barron’s staff saw immediate improvements in process efficiencies and overall office productivity. The incredible improvements in operations make the cost of the system irrelevant. In fact, customer satisfaction rose right along with efficiency and productivity because customers were ecstatic with the new online registration process.

“Our staff can get ‘business’ out of the way of what really matters to each student’s learning experience.” Joe Barron, Barron Gymnastics

PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS BLOSSOM AFTER IMPLEMENTATION | What Barron learned was this: Their real connection with families had nothing to do with tuition collection and the process of registering but everything to do with the personal connections that being freed from the computer allowed. Instead of losing their personal touch, Barron’s actually experienced even more meaningful interactions between staff and families because the activities in the office no longer centered on entering data, but on teaching and real conversations.

“Jackrabbit’s automated processes heighten efficiencies and encourage growth strategies for us as owners. The system excels in helping us bring customers in online and then look after them as they mature.” Joe Barron, Barron Gymnastics

ORGANIZATION DETAILS | 1 location, 1100 students, 27 instructors, Diane & Joe Barron, Owners

 

8 Reasons Email Marketing Is Important

 

Hundreds of billions of emails are sent out every single day. Using this form of communication in the technology driven world we live in is vital. Here are 8 reasons you should be using email marketing for your business.

1. Affordable

Dare I say cheap? Well, maybe it isn’t “cheap” but is sure is a very low cost internet marketing channel to implement and it has a great return for your business. It remains the leader in return on investment. One comparison shows direct mail with a 7% ROI versus email marketing at 28.5%. That’s a huge difference whether you are a small business with a limited amount of resources or a large corporation with many internet marketing options to choose from. No wonder businesses should be using email strategically!

2. Simple and Quick

Think about how many emails you write in a day. How easy is it to do?!  Most everyone can quickly write an email and hit ‘send.’  It doesn’t take a lot of your business’ resources or time to put together an email and send it off. You may already be doing more email marketing than you think.

3. Personal and Customizable

With email marketing, you can easily choose who receives it and who doesn’t – allowing you to target the population you want to be in front of – you know, the people who want to hear from you and want what you have to offer. You can also easily customize your emails to a segment of the population, to a buyer persona, or even for the current season of the year. You are not locked into one thing!

4. Relationship Focused

Email does not have to be SPAM – and it should never be! It can be used thoughtfully to build loyalty and trust in your brand. Email marketing is important for building relationships with prospects, leads, current customers, and even past customers because it gives you a chance to speak directly to them, in their inbox, at a time that is convenient for them. Be friendly and personable. You are not invading their space if you have chosen your message and your recipient wisely.

5. Action Oriented

Whether they realize it or not, email recipients have been trained well to do something with an email – reply, forward, click-through, sign-up, or buy. Think about it! Email has become transactional in nature and you can use it to direct traffic to your website and ultimately drives sales. As you develop your small business internet marketing strategy as a whole, using email will allow you to see results and that is a great reason why email marketing is important.

6. Measureable

When you choose to use an email service, one of the benefits is the tracking ability you gain. There are many measurable actions you can track such as bounce rates, delivery rates, open rates, click through rates, and unsubscribe rates. You can easily get a picture of how your email campaigns are performing, make adjustments and improve your effectiveness. Email marketing metrics are important to remember as you monitor and measure your internet marketing strategy as a whole.

7. More popular than Social Media

Some people think that with the growing popularity of social media platforms, email may be pushed to the side, but if you think about it almost every social media account requires an email to be set-up. Hmmm…that’s a lot of emails! The Huffington Post reported that worldwide 85% of people online send and receive emails and 62% communicate through social media. So if you are not using email as part of your internet marketing strategy, you are missing out on a channel that a majority of the world uses!

 8. Mobile and Global

Just as email is at the core of social media, email has also gone mobile. Email is the most popular activity on smart phones and mobile devices with 78% of 18-44 year olds using their devices for email, 73% for web browsing and 70% for Facebook.  We are taking our email with us everywhere we go! And with the internet accessible all over the world, email marketing can have a global reach.

So, what are you waiting for? Get started with email marketing today!

Jackrabbit Gives Owner Reliability and Responsiveness He Needs

Fun & Fit Gymnastics Centers                       

www.funandfit.com

2 locations, 900-1000 students, 45 instructors

Owner, Jeff Lulla

THE CHALLENGE

Jeff’s relationship with technology began in 1985 when he managed his facility using a program based on Lotus spreadsheets. The program never evolved to be able to support all of his business’s needs. The program also failed to gain Jeff’s confidence due to downtime, unreliability and unresponsive support resources.

THE SOLUTION

Jeff had been looking for a system that would enable him to automate payment processes because they consumed vast blocks of time that his staff could be using to nurture customers.

With Jackrabbit, Jeff’s staff is freed from manual processes of credit card entry. Today Fun & Fit’s entire billing and collection processes – which previously took two entire work days per month – is completed by simply kicking off an automated process.

Communications is another area where Jeff sees Jackrabbit excel for his staff because they can email customers from key areas of the system. The directness of this feature saves his staff time and eliminates the need to switch between systems to communicate.

Being web-based makes Jackrabbit an anywhere, anytime system. When owners combine that level of access with the robust reporting Jackrabbit provides, they can easily keep their fingers on the pulse of business performance.

JACKRABBIT ADDED VALUE

Jackrabbit has restored Fun & Fit Gymnastics Centers’ confidence in technology and in their operations and given them the tools to provide a higher and more personal level of services to their families.

“Jackrabbit’s leadership exemplifies a level of integrity and trustworthiness that shows me they understand how critical I consider technology to be to my business. Their persistence in improving their system illustrates their  understanding of our needs. ” — Jeff Lulla| Fun & Fit Gymnastics Centers

See what Jeff says about Jackrabbit on YouTube.

Jackrabbit Makes it Easy for Users to Keep on Working While Learning Their New System

FasTracKids 

www.manhattanenrichment.com

1 location, 25+ students, 4+ instructors

Director, Josh Gunsberger


THE CHALLENGE

FasTracKids was inexperienced with class management software but knew they needed to use technology to enable growth. Their main concern with learning a new system was impact ramp-up time would have on their ability to keep pace with their daily operational tasks.

THE SOLUTION

As with many new Jackrabbit users, the staff at FasTracKids was excited about the improvements that they would see from the billing and data management features of the system. Staff accessibility to timely, accurate information in Jackrabbit practically eliminates the potential for inefficiency and human error.

FasTracKids’ staff – even those who are not technology savvy – quickly and easily became comfortable with billing and class management features and adept at locating student, family and instructor data.

As facility director, Josh takes advantage of Jackrabbit’s web-based format. He can access the system from anywhere and therefore never feels disconnected from the office, the rest of the staff or the business. It is quite a plus to have the ability to accurately answer parents’ account questions – even if they reach out after office hours or when access from the office computer is not possible.

JACKRABBIT ADDED VALUE

Jackrabbit’s learning curve is hardly existent because the system is intuitive and easy-to-use. Its anytime, anywhere accessibility keeps staff connected with each other and with real-time business data.

“When we first implemented Jackrabbit, we were excited with the super easy-to-use and -learn nature of the system. We were up a running quite proficiently in no time.”  — Josh Gunsberger, FasTracKids

Making Great Even Better

Exciting News! We are upgrading the software technology on Jackrabbit’s servers! This will allow us to deliver enhancements even faster in the future.

As a result, you will see some visual changes on some reports and other tables that will provide even more functionality.

For the best performance you need to be using the most recent version of your Internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome). For PC Users we suggest: IE 10, Chrome and Firefox.

If you need help checking your IE browser version, please click here to watch a short clip.

Jackrabbit Renews Rainbow Gymnastics’ Confidence in the Technology That Supports its Operations

www.rainbow-gymnastics.com

1 location, 635 students, 35 instructors

Owner, Michael Little

THE CHALLENGE

Rainbow Gymnastics was searching for a new software system because they couldn’t depend on the performance of their existing one.  The staff couldn’t be effective in completing their daily operational tasks without a system that they had confidence in. Michael’s sticking point was ensuring the security of sensitive data.

THE SOLUTION

Jackrabbit’s meticulous requirements for safe-guarding data passed muster with Michael. The entire Jackrabbit system is stored behind state of the art firewalls and monitored 7 x 24 x 365 in a facility requiring biometrics for entry. With this sticking point resolved, Rainbow implemented Jackrabbit and quickly became acquainted with the system’s powerful feature set and ease of use.

Rainbow’s customers are delighted with the online options available to them via Jackrabbit. The fact that data is real time lets parents register with confidence that their children will actually get the class they selected. Staff has experienced a radical shift in the amount of their time consumed by registration now that it is offered online and enjoys rapid deployment of a critical business operation through automatic payment processing. Family data in the system is also more accurate because there is no re-entry of data required at any point or time.

JACKRABBIT ADDED VALUE

Jackrabbit has restored Rainbow’s confidence in technology and its ability to provide incomparable services to customers.  The system has been a catalyst for operational improvements throughout the office that are an obvious delight to customers.

“Jackrabbit has a lot to offer businesses and owners for management and growth. We immediately saw significant improvements because we could quickly put valuable features to work for us. We identify new ways to get value from the system almost daily.”

— Michael Little, Rainbow Gymnastics

See what Michael says about Jackrabbit on YouTube.

Are you a 20%er? Don’t be a Statistic


Technology can be overwhelming! You’re not alone if you feel that you use only a small portion of your software system features.

In fact, Standish Group* research indicates that most folks only use 20% of their software’s features and never use 45% of the features offered. This research includes all types of software across all types of businesses! (*The Standish Group is a research and analysis group that focuses on technology.)

Businesses today must maximize every investment they make – including their technology investments. When you install or implement any type of system, you do so for a reason – usually to obtain the ability to do a specific or a few specific tasks. You may rush to perfect your use of a fee posting system or enrollment feature, yet leave very powerful automation – like automatic payment set-up – for later since it isn’t “a necessity” to charge your fees.

Value adding features that may not be quite as familiar to you at first are important and can help you make the most of your technology investment. These features can also turn your company into a technology-enabled powerhouse!

 

These statistics don’t mean that you should be satisfied with being in the “norm”.

But if you’re like most owners, you just don’t have the time to experiment with features or watch videos so you can learn something new or become comfortable with processes that are less familiar.

 

Wouldn’t it be amazing …
-To have an expert walk through your software system with you?
-To help you get a better grip on the “other” features that you could be getting lots of value from?
-To help you to better understand where the really cool features are?
-To show you how to get started with them?

This valuable guidance is available!

Jackrabbit doesn’t leave you in the dark. By offering utilization reviews to customers, Jackrabbit gives you quick assessments of other features that can help you the most with your business and even offer tips and tricks to help you get more from the features you’re already using.

You can also learn more about the features you know and the ones you don’t by taking advantage of:

Jackrabbit Getting Started Webinars – These one-hour webinars are designed to get you up to speed on key features of the system so that you can be more efficient and work smarter, not harder.

Jackrabbit Classroom Training – Training is often provided on-site in several ways: Jackrabbit Basics classes at our headquarters in Charlotte, two times a year at our user conferences held in locations convenient for both east and west coast users, Beyond the Basics trainings offered in popular cities across the US, and as special engagements for customers at their locations. These classroom-style sessions are offered at very reasonable prices and enable users to become even sharper with their Jackrabbit skills than they could via online videos and Jumpstart Calls.

Jackrabbit Jumpstart Calls – These calls are your chance to clear up any questions about the system after you have had a chance to watch our Getting Started Video and try the steps in your database.

Jackrabbit Training Videos – A comprehensive set of videos covers all key components and functions of the Jackrabbit system in a format that you can access whenever you want as many times as you want.

 

Jackrabbit Technologies Honored as Finalist in Two NCTA 21 Award Categories

Class Management Software Provider Recognized as Leader in Industry Innovation and Growth 
CHARLOTTE, NC– December 14, 2010 – Jackrabbit Technologies, leading provider of web-based solutions for youth activities centers, was recently honored by the North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA) in two of the 21 categories that were spotlighted during the ceremonies in Durham, N.C. Jackrabbit was finalist in the Industry Driven Technology Award and the Small Technology Company Award categories. Sixty companies and three individuals were honored during the evening.

“It was very exciting to sit among peers that provide a diverse spectrum of technologies – from our own class-based business management system to those that monitor utilities and empower hospital emergency communication – and realize that we make up one of the most diverse technology environments in the country,” comments Mark Mahoney, Jackrabbit’s President and CoFounder.

The NCTA 21 Award finalists were chosen from a record pool of companies who participated in a two-stage, independently reviewed nomination process and were judged on the quality of their submissions and differentiation from their peers.

Recognized as one of North Carolina’s most prestigious awards series, the NCTA 21 Awards celebrate innovation and excellence in North Carolina and honors those representing the best and brightest in technology and business.

Jackrabbit Technologies provides class management software to several types of studios, schools and organizations, working directly with those who share their experience, knowledge and talents with students through their businesses. The company prides itself on its consistent software enhancements, industry leading customer support and track record for customer satisfaction as well as its attentiveness to need through open lines of communication with customers who are also leading their practice areas in providing quality learning experiences to students in eight market sectors. By working directly from user input, Jackrabbit develops and offers class management solutions specifically geared to the needs of each of sector. Jackrabbit’s sector-focused solutions are highlighted at www.jackrabbittech.com.