I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time. On the About Me page, I mention that it was quite a big turning point for me when I discovered the joy of using software to manage my tennis coaching business / programme. Everything became easier, quicker, better, more professional & more automated. Here is a before-and-after………….
The above is only the tip of the iceberg, but I’ll go into a bit more detail in the rest of this post. I just want to get across how much help good software can be, but I can only do that by describing the software that I use, which is Tennisbiz by Thinksmart Software. It’s not my goal to try to sell you that particular software (although I do genuinely recommend it if you run a tennis coaching business in UK or Australia) – this post is more about showing the benefits of using sofware, but with the one that I use as a good example.
First of all, I made a video, showing you a bit about the software and how we use it on a daily basis in our tennis coaching programme. See it below.
I’d suggest using headphones as the sound is a little quiet, and also setting the speed to 1.5 so it’s a bit quicker to watch………
So what does the software do?
In case you didn’t make it through that video, or even if you did, here is a bit more details aboutwhat Tennisbiz does for us.
It has a great database feature
So it stores all the details of our customers – that’s parents details and childrens details. And although we can add and edit that information, we rarely need to these days because of the online registrations feature of the software. So the first time anybody books a class or a free trial, they put in their details, and then in future they just log in to book / pay etc. It’s just like any number of accounts that you probably log into on a weekly basis, but we’ve been a bit behind in the world of tennis coaching.
And this database ties in with all the other parts of the software, like the class shedule section, financial/ invoicing section and the email/ text messaging section. This is what excel spreadsheets are not so good for.
Class schedule section
Here is where you set up all your classes, which you can add students to, or more likely open up for online registrations so that the customers sign up and pay online. Like any schedule, you can set dates, times, court allocations, coaches & prices. You can mark attendances and print out registers. But we don’t tend to print registers any more because of another great feature, the coach app, which I’ll also come onto.
All aspects of this software create records, which you can look back on at any time, for instance you could look at the attendance record or financial record of any customer going back as far as you like.
This is very thorough. Invoices are generated for anyone who signs up for sessions, those invoices can be emailed in bulk, payments can be logged and records created.
However, almost all of these processes have been wiped out by online registrations and payments. Now, the customer books and pays instantly, the software creates an invoice, marks it as paid and creates the records. There really isn’t any action needed from our end – maybe an ocasional bespoke invoice for something a bit different. But this is rare.
Email & Text Messaging (SMS)
I LOVE this part. There are a few different features here……..
Large bulk emails – so you can email everyone in the database, or apply a few filters such as age group. You can put first names in the emails, see reports about who read the email and you don’t have to worry about how many you send – it is taken care of.
More targeted emails – an example of this is that you can email or text a particular class or day at the click of a button. Very useful for urgent messages such as cancellations.
Text messages – great for messages that you need to be seen quickly. Again, useful for cancellations and other last minute important messages, like a change of venue. A bit expensive for large bulk messages, but see this post for a better way of sending bulk text messages.
I’ve mentioned this part a few times already. This is the part that automates so much of your programme. It’s a bit too much to describe here, but I can just tell you that it works. You set up your classes, camps and sessions and then put a link on your website / social media / email. The whole process is then automatic – customer signs up, puts in their details (if not already in there), pays, receives a confirmation email that you have pre-written. The payment is recorded. There really is nothing to do, except focus on the important part of the business – actually delivering great tennis.
Two features which compliment online registrations are the customer portal and coach app………….
- With the customer portal, the customer or parent can use the portal or an app to see their bookings & payments, edit their details, book sessions and mark absences.
- The coach app has removed the need for paper registers. Coaches can mark attendances, grade children, see class details, message parents and more.
All of these features work together
This is what really automates things and makes software so much better than using something like excel spreadsheets to manage your programme. Having said that, the software is probably only worth it if your programme is of a certain size, or heading in that direction. If your programme has fewer players, or you work with players more on an individual basis then you probably don’t need this kind of software. But if your programme has lots of customers (into the 100s), maybe multiple venues and coaches, then this kind of software will pay for itself in terms of how much time it saves you, how it can help with your marketing and even the quality of service that you can give.
What does it cost?
You can see Tennisbiz pricing on their website HERE. But also here is a screenshot from their website showing you the price:
There are some extras which you may or may not use, as follows:
- Email Server: £3 per month. Too long to describe here but helps with sending bulk emails. We use.
- Text Messaging: 8p per message and only charged based on usage. I don’t use this for bulk messaging, but great for firing out quick messages like cancellation / bad weather.
- Online Class Registration/ Customer Portal: These two features share a price of £5 per month (together), they are two of the strongest features and I cannot recommend them highly enough. We use.
- Smart Phone App: The staff smartphone app is a fantastic resource for your staff to have while instructing their classes. It provides quick functions to mark attendance, skill track and more. This feature is available at a cost of £1 per month, per user. We use.
- Stripe: This platform allows you to take money through your software. Stripe charges 1.4% + 20p per transaction. Tennisbiz charges a flat 12p fee per successful transaction.
- GoCardless: Allows you to take recurring payments / direct debits. Tennisbiz charges 12p per transaction. GoCardless charge 1% per transaction which is capped at £2
But what is the cost
For us, here is how it works out:
- We usually fit into the £59.99 bracket for the monthly fee, although if you have less than 250 students in classes, you would be £39.99.
- We use the email server, online registrations and coach app (for 6 coaches). That’s £14pm in extras.
- So our fixed monthly cost is £74.
The cost of text messaging and payment processing fees are not really costs that I consider to be part of the software. They are just costs that will always come with those things. We add 5% to the cost of lessons to cover payment processing.
So £74 per month is the real cost of this software to us. And well worth it!
If you have any questions about using software in general or Tennisbiz specifically, please ask in the comments section below. I’ll be happy to answer. If you’re not from UK or Australia, hopefully this has given you some ideas about what to look for in this kind of software. If you ARE from UK or Australia, see below.
I hope this was useful, whether or not you want to use Tennisbiz. As I’ve mentioned, I really didn’t want this to be a sales pitch for specific software – it’s just that I can only write about what I know, which is Tennisbiz.
But I wanted to just show the kinds of features that good software should have and an idea of what it costs, so you know what to look for.