With a growing number of operations software hitting the gymnastics, dance and swim industries, it has become more difficult than ever before to be sure you are using technology to grow your youth activity business and ensure success. When there are dozens of options to sort through, could there really be an ‘all-in-one’ solution? Hard to say. Technology preferences can be more subjective than you might think – what you are head-over-heels for, your office manager could find difficult and hard to love.
Whether you’re looking to add a tool, make a switch or starting on a platform for the first time, there are things you should consider that will help you and your team pick a piece of technology that best grows your gymnastics, dance or swim business.
If you really are looking for a one-stop-shop, all-in-one software, there are key questions you should be asking during the live demo or free trial process that will help you be sure your new tool is driving most or all of your operation.
1. Is this the software to grow my business?
No one wants to implement a new tool just to say they did. Each new application or process you introduce to your business should be in place to help you become more efficient and successful than you were before.
Your small business can grow using new-to-you technologies that are developed specifically to help you streamline tasks related to family and student management, increase your revenue and enrollment or improve communication within your team.
Starting the search for a tool that’s right for you can lead you down more than one path, each system promising a new level of success and leaving you wondering what you actually needed in the first place. Before you start the hunt for software that will grow your business, work with key members of your organization – administrative staff, instructors and key families – that can help you compile a good list of solutions that your new tool should come programmed with.
2. Does this technology offer me the benefits of ePayments?
One of the chief stressors we hear from clients on a day-to-day basis is the process of auditing classes, posting tuition and then collecting the payments. By the time you get all of the fees assigned to the right account, collect all of the checks or manually run the credit cards and make those uncomfortable collection calls, it’s time to do it all again for the next week or month!
The thought of it all is enough to make you cringe. Jackrabbit understands that and we’ve spent years developing a simple 1-step process that can change the way you look at your billing cycles altogether.
When you’re considering a technology that can help you transition from manual tuition collection to ePayments, there are some key features you’ll be looking for like secure credit card and ACH transactions, PCI compliant processors and Meet or Beat Pricing on your current or offered processing rate.
3. Will this software finally help me figure out how to go paperless in my business?
Real talk time? There’s a good chance that those of you reading this are split right down the middle on all this paperless talk. Half of you are tempted to stop here because seriously, who is still managing their business with pen and paper? But the other half, well, you’re having a gut-check moment right now realizing you’ve been trying to say goodbye to the binders of death for years and just can’t seem to cut the cord.
This go-green concept has been around for decades (ouch! – since when did it hurt so bad to read a word like decades?) but most youth sports and youth activity centers still use a lot of paper. Why? Well, there are a handful of local or state laws that may require you to keep a printed form handy but the reality is, most of the paper stacking up on your desk is because we’re resistant to change.
Going digital means learning new processes and even changing a few workflows. We’ve built tons of habits around paper – but they’re likely costing you a ton of time and money that you can’t get back.
After you’ve done your research, lost a little sleep over the decision and finally invested in your new system, you might be ready to give yourself a high five and call it a day but – not so fast! Now is where the fun really begins. Let’s talk about how to roll out your newest tool with your staff and families so that implementing your new technology actually helps you get some time back in your day.
5 Technology Tips for Business Owners Implementing a New Tool
Take advantage of the setup guides
The technology you’ve chosen to help you automate and grow your business should be built with a number of tools to help you get off the ground. Tools like Getting Started documentation, Help Guides and Quick Start Wizards are in place to make implementation easier, not slow you down.
Most reliable software for youth activities is built with you as the user in mind and should give you access to a variety of different tools depending on your learning style. Look for a company that covers all the bases with complete documentation, step-by-step guides, and video tutorials so that all of your team can interact with the tools in a way that makes sense to them.
2. Opt-in to the their email communication
I know, I know… your email inbox is full already and overwhelming enough without subscribing to another company’s marketing materials. But hear me out. When you get started with a new system, it’s critical that you stay connected in the first 90 days. Software companies like Jackrabbit have onboarded over 60,000 (yes, you heard right) owners, directors, administrators and teachers over the years and we’ve got a great insight into where you’re going to nail your implementation and where you might need a little extra help.
With the insight we have, we’ve created helpful hints, tricks, and tips for success in your first few months of onboarding and we share it in quick, digestible emails so that you can read it at your convenience or keep it handy for down the road. If you unsubscribe or delete these emails too early in your implementation, you might just miss the tip that was hand-selected just for you.
3. Connect with your Personal Coach
New software to-do list, day one, item one – Schedule Your Jumpstart Call.
Scratching your head? Wondering what that is? Ahhh, prepare to be amazed and relieved at once. One of the ways systems like Jackrabbit ensure the success of users right out of the gate is connecting with them on a Jumpstart Call. These calls are scheduled around your calendar and will leave you feeling more confident that you’ve got the necessary tools in place for a successful implementation.
Your Jackrabbit Jumpstart Call is time that is wholly dedicated to you and your business. Let a product expert help you find your groove with a personalized agenda and action list. The best part is, these are totally free to you and included in your trial so take advantage as soon as you can!
“The first day, it was a little overwhelming. I could have talked myself out of it. But I went with my gut because I need this! The Jumpstart Calls helped me tremendously!“ – Melanie Ellis, Freestyle Dance Company
Not working with a software that offers a coach during implementation? Don’t take another step forward without considering a Jackrabbit free trial.
4. Import your current data
We’ve talked about that paper piling up, right? Chances are if you’ve got paper piling up, you might also have spreadsheets or even another couple of systems full of family, student and class information that could help you get started even faster. Don’t let that go to waste! It is so much easier to get a new technology off the ground if you can start with some of your own data or contact records on day one.
Import assistance isn’t offered with every class management tool but you should still inquire and see if there are easy ways to get your current information imported into your new workspace. Don’t waste your time entering data manually – you’ll be new-system-fatigued before you even get through your first week.
5. Subscribe for future educational content
So, you subscribed to the Getting Started email series and even benefitted from them… what can I say except…
…but seriously, I told you those would be painless and helpful and they were!
So, what’s next? Great technology companies will follow your welcome series up with even more tricks, tips, tools and system hacks with educational content that’s tailored to you, your business and your stage of the game. Stay subscribed and go find any other channels they have out there for communicating with you.
Great software providers utilize avenues like email, YouTube, Facebook, and other social platforms to reach out and keep you informed and excited about the tools you’re using every day.
With programs like Jackrabbit, it’s likely that new enhancements happen often and have a positive impact on the way you run your business, so you’ll want to stay ahead of the news. I know you’re at information overload already, but I promise you, you’ll get way more return out of this relationship if you stay invested and keep the lines of communication open.
All of that said, you are a successful youth activity center leader. You’ve done the hard part, adding a new technology or tool should only help you streamline your processes and get some time back in your day. Your digital solutions should work for you, not against you so keep a good pulse on what you’ve already got in place and make sure your team is getting what they need from it.
Ready for more technology tips for running your business? Check out our eBook, Get a Life, and put a little ‘me time’ back in your schedule.