Dolphin Academy is a family-owned swim school in Napier, New Zealand, that was started because of the owners' passion to offer all children in the community a place where they could learn to swim.
It opened in 2021 and offers 'learn to swim' classes as well as a 'Water Skills for Life' programme to local schools during the week.
Putting a booking management system in place prior to opening
The team knew that they needed booking software in place rather than starting out with a spreadsheet which would be very difficult.
"I know how important systems are, so we knew right from the beginning that we wanted to invest in swim management system," says Vicky Rope, Co-owner of Dolphin Academy.
"It was a no brainer really - you're only as good as your system."
Streamlining the booking process from the very start
Vicky and the team added Udio's customer portal to their base subscription to enable parents to follow their child's progress. Another important aspect of the portal that Vicky foresaw as essential for their opening was the ability for customers to make bookings online.
"Because we started out as a new swim school and knew we were going to be inundated with bookings, we did parents self-assessing their children and booking online which worked an absolute treat," says Vicky.
When the classes are fully booked, Vicky disables online bookings and gets customers to register instead. She then adds them to a waitlist and contacts them directly when spaces become available.
Embracing Udio as an extension of their business
Having been implemented from the start, Udio has made a huge impact and really helped with the day-to-day running of the business.
"I don't know what I would do without it to be honest; as a system, it's very intuitive."
Vicky Rope, Co-owner of Dolphin Academy
"There's always an answer to your question," says Vicky when she's looking for a certain report or how to do something.
As the swim school is perpetual (rather than term-based), they course-complete children on a monthly basis which is where Udio's booking functionality has been great for the team. "It's essential that we can keep track of what we've got available and where we're moving kids and that we're not overbooking time slots," says Vicky.
Giving the team more time to focus on teaching
One key area where Udio has saved the team time is around payments, using direct debit through the Udio system.
"It's certainly reduced the admin time, particularly around the invoicing; the process is just seamless," says Vicky.
The swimming instructors have found Udio highly beneficial when teaching as they use the five minutes between each class to assess the children or write notes in Udio using their waterproof-cased tablets. "They can upload their lesson plans, check how far along a child is with their achievements and write notes about what they need to work on in the next session," says Vicky. "Having access to Udio at home means that they can sit down and go through the kids which helps with their planning."
Using the system to react quickly to changes
When pandemic restrictions were introduced to the school's vicinity, Vicky used Udio's inbuilt email system to let customer's know what had changed.
"As soon as the government announced that we were changing levels, we sent an email communication out to our database to tell; it's just so easy."
Customer service and support that goes above and beyond
Vicky is particularly impressed with the amount of support she receives from Udio, with the team always on the end of the phone or replying quickly to emails when she has any questions. She finds the support so helpful and says that most of the time, they've already thought of the questions she asks which shows that they're always thinking ahead.
"I can't rave any more about Udio," says Vicky. "I asked recently whether my questions had run out and was told they never run out so that's good!"
When asked if she would recommend Udio to other class-based businesses, Vicky said that she definitely would.
"It's intuitive, it's professional, it's seamless, it keeps track of everything and I've learned to trust it which is a big thing for me. It's worth investing in and it makes life easy."