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We all know the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” which probably summarises the majority of antiquated management systems. However, (like they say in Black Panther), just because it works, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.
Enter: digital swim school software.
The purpose of swim school software is to help you:
- Become a more efficient operator
- Improve your customer service
- Increase customer retention
- Save you time and money
It might sound technical and daunting but once you get to grips with the basics, you’ll wonder how you ever ran your swim school without one.
Here are some signs that it’s time to step away from your old system and embrace the efficiency of digital software.
1. Your schedule is cluttered
Do you use a paper calendar or spreadsheets to plan your weekly timetable? How about adding students to classes?
With a digital system, you can plan out your term-based or perpetual schedule in advance, while also covering important class information, such as:
- Lesson capacity and lane allocation
- Class duration
- Lesson days and intervals
- Teacher and supervisor assignments
- Student bookings
If you need to edit a session, you can do so seamlessly with a few clicks, rather than manually moving things around. On top of that, your digital system can streamline other areas of your business, such as payments, attendance and customer communication, making everything more efficient, accurate and stress-free.
2. You want to teach more but don't have time
Most swim school operators would agree that the ultimate goal is to spend more time on pool deck and less time drowning in admin. After all, you started this business because you’re passionate about swimming, so naturally, you’ll want to run as many sessions as possible.
By cutting down on admin, you'll be able to expand your classes, thereby increasing your revenue and continuing to grow your business. Now that’s a triple win.
3. Your think your business is too small to justify the investment
The great thing about digital software is that it's designed to suit swim schools of all sizes, with a range of pricing options to fit your budget. And although it sounds like an expensive investment, it will save you money in the long run.
Take customer bookings for example - by introducing an online portal that syncs with your digital system, you can reduce staff overheads by enabling customers to self-manage their bookings and payments, 24/7.
As the operator, you can access your system from anywhere at any time, which means you can make sound financial decisions based on real-time data.
Communication tools are another key feature; some systems have inbuild email platfoms where you can trigger emails to send when certain events are met. These automated emails replace time-consuming manual tasks (such as locating overdue payments, identifying customers and calling/emailing to chase up), increasing your cash flow and saving you hours in staffing costs.
4. Things don't always add up
A big disadvantage of using a shared internal system is that there is more room for human error which if left unchecked, can affect your records and take hours to fix. It’s also much harder to trace accountability, whereas, with digital software, each staff member has their own account, permissions and a digital trail making it easy to track entries back to a specific user.
You’ll still get occasional errors of course, but it will be much easier to identify and make changes compared to manually searching through documents. Any changes made will also be automatically updated in your reports, keeping everything running smoothly in the background.
5. There's a lull in productivity
When you're tied up in so much admin, it's harder to be productive in other areas of your business, such as improving customer experiences or exploring new ways to boost revenue.
A good way to see if you're spending too much time on admin is to work out roughly how much time each week you spend:
- Managing customer bookings and answering questions
- Doing lesson admin (e.g. replacing teachers, planning timetables, taking attendance, etc.)
- Enrolling new swimmers
- Raising fees & processing payments
Class management software can reduce your manual admin by 40% - just think how much more productive you and your staff would be if some of those repetitive tasks were taken off your hands!
Since moving to a digital system, State Swim now saves more than eight hours a fortnight in admin, giving them more time to spend with their customers. With less time spent on manual tasks, they've increased operational productivity and saved around $120,000 per year in staff costs.
6. You want to improve customer service
Chances are, you want to provide a better service but you’re too busy ticking off items from your long list of admin tasks. We hear you.
Understanding the importance of customer satisfaction, most digital management systems are designed with your customers in mind and can include:
- ‘Last contacted’ prompts highlighting which customers have not been contacted in x number of days so supervisors can make an effort to speak to them while on shift
- A widget identifying which customers are celebrating a birthday that week so staff can wish them a happy birthday
- Personalised email templates that are automatically sent following certain triggers, such as a new booking or successful payment
- Online booking portal to reduce queues and phone calls to reception
7. Planning is rarely straightforward
In theory, using pen and paper or spreadsheets to plan your classes sounds like the simplest method. But things start to get messy when you have multiple lessons running at once, an instructor that needs every other Monday off, a student who wants to swap days and so on.
Very soon, your once organised calendar is suddenly unreadable.
A big perk of going digital is how improved your planning sessions will be. You'll be able to see your daily or weekly classes at a glance from a colour-coded calendar, giving you better visibility over future classes and making it much easier to manage your staffing and resources.
8. You’d like more accurate reporting
Trying to generate reports via a paper-based system or spreadsheets can be time-intensive and hard to analyse without knowing what data you need to extract.
Reporting, however, is crucial to the running of your business as it gives you a deeper insight into performance so you can make more informed decisions. Digital systems provide a range of real-time reports, improving your data quality and making it easy to identify strengths as well as areas for improvement.
There’ll be some reports you’ll start using and wonder how you ever ran your business without them, such as booking statistics by course, occupancy and all activity which can be broken down into a more granular report.
9. You want a more secure system
As you’re storing sensitive customer data, such as personal and billing information, system security becomes a must-have rather than a nice-to-have.
Compared to unprotected spreadsheets or folders in filing cabinets, digital systems are much more secure, with encryptions in place to offer the highest level of protection. If anything happened to your hardware, your data would be safely stored in the cloud, so there’s no need to worry about natural disasters like floods or fires damaging files the way it could with on-site paper documents.
You can also control user access within your digital system, granting permissions based on your staff’s level of management and limiting users from being able to update certain fields.
10. Waterproofing is becoming an issue
Sure, you can print out and laminate attendance sheets for each lesson and take them onto pool deck, but you'd be wasting a lot of paper, ink and time.
Instead, you could invest in some tablets and waterproof covers, load up your swim school system and assign them to instructors each lesson. Although this is an added cost in the beginning, it has numerous benefits over time:
- Increases student interactivity by using as a teaching aid (e.g. you could film their swimming stroke and point out where they can improve their technique)
- Allows teachers to bring their lesson plan into the water and more easily follow
- Enables teachers to make real-time notes on individual students, such as skill progression or what they need to work on next time
- Attendance can be recorded via your digital system in a few taps
- Supervisors can check teachers' notes if parents ask them a question about their child’s progression
11. You want to increase efficiency
The issue with using an antiquated system is that it can be near impossible to find things.
As well as spending hours searching through folders to find what you're looking for, time is also wasted managing the filing system, conducting data checks and training admin staff, complicating the process unnecessarily.
Whereas, with a digital system, all your past and current records are easy to locate in just a few clicks - from a simple customer search to an invoice raised five years ago.
12. Your systems don’t speak to each other
How long does it take you to complete basic tasks like raising fees and sending invoices to your customers?
If you’re using paper or spreadsheets, you and your staff will have to complete extra steps in order to tick off these types of tasks. But by integrating your systems, you can set those steps up in advance and enable automation, cutting down on daily repetitive tasks and improving efficiency.
Zapier, for example, is a workflow automation tool that connects your swim school software to third-party apps - it then transfers information between the systems, prompting automatic actions when certain events are triggered. Not only does this do the time-consuming tasks for you, but it also simplifies your processes by storing all your data in one accessible place.
Now that you know how a swim school system can save you time and money while increasing your operational efficiency, you can start thinking about the features you'd need in order for it to be a good fit for your business.
Armed with this list, you can start researching swim school software and organising demos to see the system in action and determine whether it's suitable.
Ideally, you want a system, like Udio, that:
- Is built for swim schools
- Has booking & scheduling capabilities
- Is visually clean and easy to operate
- Offers a range of reports
- Can process payments (manually and/or online)
- Has inbuilt communication tools (such as email & SMS)
- Offers a user-friendly customer portal
Remember, while your current model might be okay for now, it isn't an effective long-term solution. Start the process with digital today and you'll certainly see a difference in productivity, efficiency and customer experience. Book in for a free discovery call to see why 100% of swim schools that choose Udio stay with Udio.