The whole point of going digital is to find a quicker and smarter way to get your daily work done. But, let’s face it, as with anything new, the first few days of rolling out a software system could be a bit chaotic. You could still find yourself clinging on to your print-outs and spreadsheets as the new system splutters to life.
It would even be a good few weeks before you figure your way around, migrate your data, train your staff and get the parents adapted to the new way of doing things. However, if you find this transition phase stretching beyond a reasonable period, you know you are not headed in the right direction.
To make sure you are not left with a clunky software, a pile of training material and an unmanageable heap of print-outs, here are a few important things to look for when shopping around for your after school club administration system are:
Lesser ‘work’ and paperwork
The right administration software should be able to help you digitise, and where possible ‘automate’ most of your club’s core administrative requirements. Some of the features that can bring about a significant difference to your workload and paperwork during the setup process (and going forward) :
Bulk upload options to input your data faster
Some software systems offer you a CSV upload option where you can enter all your existing registration/staff details into a spreadsheet and upload it into your system in one go. This could be a major help to speed up your set up process.
Customisable online registration and consent forms
A customisable template for your registration and consent forms would mean lesser work on your side to create the forms from scratch, but the freedom to add in the fields or branding features of your choice.
Auto-populated daily registers
A system that would pull out the daily sign-in sheets from your bookings calendar without you having to type them in manually.
Online booking and payments
An intelligent system that displays vacant spaces on your bookings platform based on your centre’s occupancy rates and offers the option to collect payments immediately.
The flexibility to collect online and offline payments and invoice customers instantly or batch invoice them later based on the rules you set in your system.
A parent communication portal and app
Although some consider this a ‘good-to-have’ feature, it is a ‘must-have’ to keep parents updated and to help them manage their payments and bookings with you efficiently.
Depending on your regional compliance requirements, make sure your software has the following capabilities:
- Digital signature for your online registration forms
- Ease of updating registration and consent forms periodically
- Digital signature and a time-stamp for children and staff sign-in/outs
- Easy access to emergency contacts
- Capability to print out or export reports and registers into excel, as required
Suits your business model
Many club administration systems are quite rigid when it comes to accommodating the variability in your booking pattern and business model. Do you want your customers to pay you immediately for ad hoc sessions or do you want to club your contract and ad hoc sessions and invoice them at the end of the month? Make sure you check with your provider in advance if you’d have the flexibility to accommodate your requirements.
The aesthetics aside, when you have your entire team and customers using your system daily, the last thing you want to be stuck with is a rickety software that will see you running back to customer service. If the provider offers a free plan/free-trial, make sure you test out the software to see if it’s user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Helps you promote your brand
Adding your branding is generally a luxury that comes with the expensive in-house software systems. However, many subscription software now offer a few custom features to help you promote your brand. It would be a good idea to look for software systems that allow you to add your logo or embed your custom ‘Book Now’ or ‘Register Now’ buttons on your website or social media and let your branding shine through.