These days you can buy pretty much anything online and studies are showing that the percentage of purchases made online are increasing year after year. More likely than not, your customers are buying online.
Unfortunately, many activity based businesses do not offer the convenience of online registration. Those that do, have and will continue to have a competitive advantage over those that don’t.
You know you want that competitive advantage but finding the right software solution to suite your needs can be an overwhelming process. What if you choose the wrong one? Can you make the change from a more traditional system to a software as a service (SaaS) model?
Some simple preliminary research can save you time and help ensure you select a registration software solution that will best suite your unique business needs.
Here at Amilia, we’ve found that no two activity-based organizations are alike. As a result, whether the software solution they adopt is custom-made or bought straight off the shelf, the platforms, at their best, are problem solvers.
Before you dive in and start scheduling demos or signing up for trials, it's important that you look at the problems you are trying to solve rather than focusing on a bunch of features that may or may not be central to your business model.
Creating a list of your business rules is a solid way to get off on the right foot. Answer the following 10 questions (and follow-up questions) and use them in your evaluation process:
1. How are your activities sold? Do your clients register for sessions? Do you offer drop-ins or booking? Do you have a mix of the two?
It's important that the online registration software you choose allows you the flexibility to offer and schedule your activities according to your clients' preferences and your business module. If you offer a session based activity but reserve slots for drop-ins or want to offer drop-ins for an activity that's not fully booked, the registration software needs to be flexible to meet your needs.
2. Will you offer online pre-registration?If you reward your loyal clients with pre-registration periods, your online registration software must allow returning customers to have access to registration before the general public.
3. What kind of information do you need from your participants? Does this change from activity to activity and over time?
The biggest differentiator between offering goods vs services online is the information you need to complete registration. Do you need to know about past experience, medical history, injuries? Are some questions optional? Make sure you are able to collect the information you need to complete registration without going back and asking additional questions in person or over the phone. Your best questions: Are registration forms customizable? Can some questions be optional and some required?
4. Do you require prerequisites or mandatory criteria for registration based on age, gender, skill level?If you have registration requirements, make sure the online registration software you choose will block the users who do not meet the required registration criteria from registering. If it does not block these users from registering . . . get ready for an uncomfortable conversation and extra work with cancellation and refunds. In addition, if you have required skill levels for registration, find a software that will track skill level and automatically open or close registration based on the criteria you set. Look for online registration software with a CRM or database that allows you to assign and track skills.
5. Do you have or need an online payment processor ?
Online registration without online payment is really half the job. It's nice to be able to offer your clients the ability to pay cash or check in person but most of your clients who will register online will prefer to pay in that moment - plus that saves you from chasing after missed payments. If you already have a payment processor, make sure it works with the online registration sotfware you are evaluating. Many of the online registration software providers out there have a preferred processor - more often than not, these partnerships offer competitive rates and enhanced integration with the registration software that will not only save you time but also allows for greater flexibility when it comes to payment options you can provide to your clients (spoiler alert for #7!)
6. Will you be offering promotions and discounts, e.g. coupons, combos, family discounts, based on age, location?
Make sure the online registration software automatically applies discounts and promotions to all purchases online or offline. Manually applying discounts and promotions creates more work and frustration for your clients.
7. Will you be offering recurring payments, installments, partial payments? What forms of payment do you accept or want to accept e.g. credit card, check, cash?If the online registration software automates installments, recurring and partial payments, you will save a tremendous amount of time by eliminating the need to manually process recurring payments.
8. Do you sell merchandise? Do you have required equipment for activities?If you currently sell merchandise or require a t-shirt for participation, look for an online registration software that not only makes it easy to sell merchandise but that can make merchandise mandatory to register to an activity.
9. Will you manage events with your software? Online ticket sales?Will you need facility booking? Assigned seating or general admission for ticket sales?
10. Will you manage your facilities with the software? Do you rent equipment or rooms? Will use the software for online reservations?
Make sure your online registration software has facility scheduling capabilities so you can easily know what rooms, equipment, etc has been booked or are available.
When you evaluate the various software vendors, let them know your requirements and see how they measure up. You will find out quickly if they are a real contender for your business or not.
Interested in more information on how to choose the right Online Registration software for your business? Download The Ultimate Online Registration Buyer’s Guide and find out what else you should be asking software vendors.
The post is an update of the June 8, 2016 blog post entitled 10 Crucial Questions You Need to Ask Before Selecting Online Registration Software