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As I train sports facility owners and managers on how to set up their businesses with eSoft Planner online scheduling software, they often tell me specifically how their facility operates and expect the system to conform to their operations exactly.
In reality, you’re not likely to find a system that can replicate your operations in every way. Some flexibility is required when you’re automating your operations with a software program. This automation always saves time and money in the long run compared to scheduling by hand or using an Excel spreadsheet, so it’s definitely worth making a few tweaks – either to the software or to the systems in place at your sports facility.
In fact, existing facilities that are starting to use a new software program have a good opportunity to re-evaluate operational practices. Keep in mind that most sports facility scheduling software is built to accommodate the operations at a majority of sports facilities. If your own scheduling practices deviate wildly from the norm, it’s worth considering the benefits of the alternatives that are presented to you, especially because it’s difficult to change your software once it’s already been set up.
I typically get pushback during the setup process when facilities want to be more lenient with their customers than the system suggests. eSoft Planner, in particular, was built specifically to help sports facilities save money by preventing lost revenue due to last-minute cancellations and no-shows by requiring upfront payment at your sports facility. If clients are used to paying for private lessons when they show up for that lesson, they might not like upfront payment at first, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get used to it. (eSoft Planner does allow sports facilities to set aside time without payment – but we don’t encourage it!)
However, if your software system can’t do something that you’ve determined is important to your clients and your bottom line, there are usually minor workarounds that can be achieved. Software systems and sports facilities may use different language to descripbe the similar services and operations. When setting up your facility software, everything boils down to how and when you require your clients to pay for their services.
For example, in eSoft Planner, you can:
- charge clients regularly each month for services to be used that month (referred to as a “membership”),
- have a client pay up front for a group of services that need to be used before an expiration date (referred to as a “package”)
- have a client pay upfront to enroll in a series of group lessons all at once (referred to as a “camp”)
- have a client pay for group lessons, one at a time (we set these up as “classes”)
One recent client balked at the restrictions because his facility had defined “sessions” that started on the same date each month for everyone and had a pre-determined number of classes in each. Since eSoft Planner’s “memberships” can start on any day of the month, he wasn’t sure the software was a good fit. However, we quickly determined that clients starting mid-session could just purchase the remaining lessons in the session as “classes.” They could purchase a “package” if they just wanted to pay for one month, and if they wanted to auto enroll in future sessions, a “membership” would work.
Remember to be open minded and work with your software provider to come up with the bests solution for your sports facility.
If you have any questions about how you can make scheduling at your facility more efficient, I’d be happy to set up a consultation session with you. Give me a call at (513) 791-4940.