We’ve already discussed how electronic online payments and electronic online records can help your sports facility. This week. I’ll try to convince you that electronic, online scheduling is also essential to your sports facility operations. It increases your efficiency and eliminates a lot of confusion.
Since I sell scheduling software, I make it a point to ask prospective clients what systems they currently use for scheduling at their sports facilities. Unfortunately, many of them still use Microsoft Excel or another similar spreadsheet system for scheduling.
This isn’t too surprising; most people already have Excel installed on their computers, and they are generally familiar with how to use it. And, if they’re just starting their sports facilities, they’re also trying to save money by not investing in software.
Using a simple spreadsheet may work just fine when there is only one instructor and only one type of appointment. However, once you start adding more instructors, locations and services, a simple spreadsheet is no longer adequate, and can get you in trouble.
Here are a few problems with using non-comprehensive, non-integrated systems like Excel to schedule at your facility:
No automated payment or invoicing option.
As you know, tracking scheduling can be much easier than tracking payments. You can try to track both on the same spreadsheet, but that can get pretty complicated. Making sure that you’re getting paid for your work is absolutely essential to your success, so your system should be foolproof. Coordinating your scheduling and payment systems and automating the process saves a lot of time and money caused by miscommunication.
No easy access to the facility schedule.
When your schedule “lives” on the hard drive of a local computer, there’s no way to share it in real time with your employees, or even view it yourself from home, on your phone or from any other location. Changing the schedule requires re-sending it to anyone who needs it, and employees often use their own customized systems such as day planners, which leaves room for confusion.
No easy way to track changes.
Making sure you get paid the right amount and on time, and preventing scheduling errors like double bookings, and is a lot easier when you can give selected employees access to the calendar, and track who modifies the schedule and payment information, and when. Your scheduling should be done in a central location in a system that will update the schedule in real-time.
Employees can’t schedule their own availability.
Along the same lines of customized employee access to the calendar: If you are scheduling appointments that require employee availability, it’s tedious to request and track your employee’s weekly availability. It’s much quicker and easier to give employees the option to input this information themselves.
No way for customers to schedule for themselves.
Although many sports facility owners don’t prioritize giving customers the ability to schedule for themselves at their own convenience online, it’s a very helpful and can save you a lot of money. Spreadsheets don’t give you this option.
If you have enough experience with manipulating spreadsheets, you might be able to create a pretty comprehensive scheduling system that you can also use to produce detailed financial reports. Tools like Google Calendar are getting increasingly advanced, as well, allowing you to collaborate with other users, share your schedule online, and even create appointment slots for other users to fill out.
Please consider, though, that your time is your most valuable asset. Creating even a moderately effective system using a spreadsheet involves a lot of color coding, formula entering and troubleshooting, all of which is very time consuming. Plus, the time spent creating such a system will be wasted if you decide later that you need a professional system instead.