Tag Archives: administration

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): What is it and do you need a system in place?

27 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Analytics, Booking System, Marketing, Memberships, Operations, Technology

In 2018, customer relationship management (CRM) software became the leading and fastest growing software market, with a growth rate of 16%, according to research by Gartner. Worldwide, CRM software revenue reached $39.5 billion at the end of 2017, surpassing that of database management systems (DBMS). With such rapid growth, people have been given little time to get their heads around what CRM actually is. Many people use the word, sounding impressive in emails and board meetings, but frequently they confuse its meaning with more general management software. So, what exactly is CRM and should your wellbeing business use one of these highly complex systems?

What is it?

Simply put, CRM is a way to manage and improve your interactions with customers and potential customers. Sometimes it refers to a company’s theoretical strategy or process. In its most recent format, it is a software product, usually stored in the cloud, that records, reports and analyses every interaction between company and customer. It sounds very Big Brother, but it is intended to serve both the service provider and the consumer.

The Benefits of CRM

  1. Personalised marketing: CRM allows for a more personalised approach to marketing. Think of targeted ads that follow you around the internet; CRM refines this personalisation further. Customers or potential customers are only advertised to about products or events that are highly relevant to their interests.
  2. Automated sales: Salespeople cannot afford to waste time rooting through spreadsheets and notepads to remember their relationship with a customer. CRM puts this information directly onto their dashboard allowing for a much smoother and more effective pitch.
  3. Higher retention: It is proven that retention rates and member usage are directly correlated. For each additional visit by a member in any given month, the risk of that member cancelling in the subsequent month is reduced by 33%, according to research by IHRSA. With a fitness CRM system, you can monitor and reach out to inactive members who are most vulnerable to cancellation.
  4. Customers feel valued: A mother might call with a query about her daughter’s tennis group. With an efficient sports CRM system, you can quickly search her name and load every previous interaction. With the facts laid before you in your dashboard, you will be able to provide a more personalised customer support service. Member care is a journey; it evolves as your members change.
  5. Happy Birthday: Automatic birthday wishes can be sent to every client with the gift of a special offer. For many activity providers, kids’ birthday parties are a big chunk of their income. An effective CRM system could decipher appropriate clients and send a promotional email in advance of the child’s birthday.

Budget for change

CRM systems for sports typically contain vast amounts of sensitive personal data, such as customer contact information, date of birth etc. This information increases in value over time, as a customer’s profile builds up. In its very nature, CRM is prone to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) non-compliance. CRM budgets are expected to increase as companies follow GDPR procedures.

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Reducing Paper at Sports Centres

11 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Operations, Technology

Whether it’s the rising threat of global warming, the stress of sorting through mounting documents, or simply a fear of papercuts; in the age of digitisation, paper and printing products are edging towards extinction. People are discovering that printing is an unnecessary expense, with the average small business spending £14K per year, according to research by software developers Reckon. Paper and ink are just the tip of a melting iceberg; hidden beneath the surface are the costs of keeping traditional filing systems, employee time, and machine maintenance.

Switch from paper bookings to online bookings

Paper is fiddly to manage and far from secure. Storing your data through a booking system like OpenPlay means everything is in one place and nothing gets lost. More importantly, no private information can be misappropriated (GDPR alert!). Our venue management software caters to block bookings, recurring payments, voucher codes and lots more. There is no longer a need to scribble or score out mistakes. Quickly alter, cancel, or refund a reservation and issue automatic confirmations to the customer. Unlike manual paper methods, our CRM (customer relationship management) system records your client interactions, so all information is up-to-date, relevant, and personalised. Ditch the Filofax and paper spreadsheets; a quick glance at your OpenPlay dashboard tells you your facility’s usage rates, financial information, and demographic breakdown.

Digital Registers

Digital registers not only reduce your printing needs, but they are kept up-to-date. Any last minute changes to registers are instantly registered in the system, meaning that instructors have an accurate register right up to the moment they begin their class. Bookings are coordinated with registers, so you can sign attendees can sign and out via the OpenPlay app, or instructors can sign them in via the coach app. You can also add notes, such as illnesses or allergies, to a client’s name, so your coaches and staff will be automatically updated.

Read more: Eliminate single-use plastic at your gym

Implement Recycling Bins

Sometimes paper needs to be used. The polar bears will forgive you for the odd printout, but only if you print back to back and only if you recycle. Create a recycling hub behind reception and print out posters to remind employees and guests to recycle… or don’t actually. Scratch that last point.

Other ways you can help the environment…

  • If you sell plastic bottles of water, why not swap to reusable bottles and provide water fountains.
  • Switch from paper towels to hand towels or energy efficient hand dryers.
  • Perhaps instead of music for classes, you can have your coaches sing or beatbox in between instructions.
  • Ban wrapping paper from the company’s Secret Santa; it is never a surprise anyway.
  • Switch off air-conditioning/ heating. Tell clients this aids muscle recovery and hope they don’t know any better.
  • A popular environmental fitness trend straight from LA is to drain your swimming pool of water and hold mock swim classes instead. Students have found that imagining the resistance of the water means that they are not only working their muscles but also exercising their creative minds.

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Sports coaches- Is admin keeping you off the pitch?

9 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Operations, Technology

Most sports coaches enter the profession because they have a passion for the game they play. It is the smell of the grass, the feel of a ball, a glove, a racquet in their hands and the joy of passing on their enthusiasm to fresh faces. Despite this idealistic vision, many find themselves stuck inside beneath a mountain of forms, blurry-eyed from excel spreadsheets, ears ringing from relentless calls. Admin comes with the territory, but not to the extent that the majority of coaches find themselves. You can make just one simple change that eliminates up to 95% of your admin, improves the service you provide, and gets you back onto the pitch.

Switch to an online booking system

Face-to-face and telephone bookings are drawn out, expensive and much less efficient than online reservations. Someone needs to be “on call” or in the office to process bookings. Bookings not only need to be online, but they need to suit both desktop and mobile. At OpenPlay, we provide bespoke booking systems that not only increase your sales and revenue but also a detailed back-end management system featuring a host of time-saving features.

Keep track of payments

The OpenPlay system flags any unpaid invoices, so you can quickly send payment reminders. Customer fees will be processed through payment gateways such as Stripe. We integrate with world-renowned services, which are safe and secure. With less cash on site, the risk of accidental or intentional loss of funds is virtually eradicated. Online payments also sync immediately with your OpenPlay venue management system, so you no longer have to log transactions manually.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

OpenPlay’s CRM system keeps track of your interactions with clients. Each time you converse with a client, you can be confident that your information on them is up-to-date, relevant and tailored specifically to the individual. CRM adds a personal touch that clients love. It makes such a difference when you can recall your last phone call with them and immediately reference their previous queries. It lets customers know that you value them.

The OpenPlay Pocket mobile app

Even with all the technology in the world, you cannot escape admin entirely. With the OpenPlay Pocket mobile app, you can at least take this small bit of work out onto the pitch. Take payments directly through your OpenPlay Pocket mobile app. Manage your coaches and employees via the app and only grant them access to their classes. Each coach receives their own registers, so they can tick off attendees and instantly see any essential health conditions. An important safety feature OpenPlay has devised and implemented is the unique pickup code for children. When parents cannot collect their child, they digitally sign the coach’s app, granting access to another adult.

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Managing Peak Times At Sports Centres

5 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Memberships, Operations

Members pay premium prices for peak-times, yet overcrowding often hampers their experience. For many people, psyching themselves up for the gym is a hurdle in itself. Once they have made it through the doors, the last thing they need is further blockades between them and their workout. All too much is the queue for a treadmill, the claustrophobia of a rammed group exercise class and a bruised back from doing sit-ups on a hard floor because there are no free mats. Fortunately, there are a few ways to reduce overcrowding and keep your gym running smoothly and efficiently at these busy times.

Eliminate reception bookings

There is nothing worse than arriving at the gym only to find that the reception is blocked up with customers and all of the staff are either on the phone or clicking away at computers. Priority needs to be given to those seeking access, needing towels or who have a general query. Move your class bookings online with a bespoke system like OpenPlay and increase reception efficiency.

Off-peak memberships

Anyone working 9-5 cannot avail of the luxury of off-peak workouts. However, for freelancers, stay-at-home parents, retirees, students, and children, a reduced price membership could be tempting. An off-peak membership restricts the user’s access to less popular hours, such as mid-morning and late afternoon. Make sure to introduce some off-peak classes, so these members can also benefit from the timetable. With any luck, some of your current members will opt for a quieter workout and new members will be able to join.

Digital sign-ups and registers

It is essential, first of all, that you have some form of a sign-up system for your group classes. People will lose faith in your venue if it is a constant lottery where they must turn up 30 minutes before the class to have any hope of making the cut. Encourage people to sign up online, so at least this booking race is digital. Now that you’ve asked people to sign up, you need to follow through on your system and implement registers. Most clubs print off class lists, which takes up the time of receptionists, adds to printing costs, and creates a general faff for everyone involved. The OpenPlay Pocket mobile app gives each instructor access to their classes so that they can check off students in the studio. No middleman is needed; registers automatically sync with bookings and cancellations, so they are up-to-date and digitally stored.

Enforce Time Limits

Many clubs ask their members to limit time spent on each machine (usually 45-60 minutes max per person), in an attempt to democratise the gym. Time limits are useful to a degree but even waiting 45 minutes for an exercise bike is a big ask. Ensure that PTs and instructors are on the gym floor offering workout advise to customers. They can show people the benefits of less popular equipment and encourage runners and elliptical trainers to increase sprint times, so they train in shorter, more intense bursts.

Efficient Access Control

The majority of fitness centres already use a version of access control; typically this is by way of a membership card. At OpenPlay, we integrate your booking statistics with your access control system. Alternatively, we have developed an access control app that fits seamlessly with your OpenPlay account. Instead of a card which can be forgotten or lost, a barcode system works straight from mobile and operates even in offline mode. This barcode system is particularly efficient for guests or external users who have  a squash court booking. Their unique barcode can be programmed to allow them access through reception, the changing rooms and the squash court they have booked.

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5 Simple steps to an eco-friendly gym

29 May 2018 openplay Leave a comment Marketing, Operations

Already gyms around the world are shunning plastic, embracing reusables, and pedal-powering towards a sustainable future. When you reduce consumption and choose greener alternatives, both the planet and your pocket benefits. If you’re looking to jump on board the solar-powered train, we’ve compiled a list of ways to make your facilities eco-friendly.

Water Bottles

Encourage customers to bring reusable bottles and upsell environmentally friendly products like those made from stainless steel or glass. Switch from plastic bottled water to Aquapaxwater: the wholly recyclable carton material. It’s paperboard, which is made from trees that are sustainably sourced from FSC Certified forests. When bought in bulk Aquapax cost £0.93 each. Visit aquapaxwater.com for more details and to place your orders!

Throw in the towel

A lot of facilities restrict customers to just one towel, assuring them “It’s for the planet,” when really it’s a way of keeping cleaning costs down. Whether your intentions are selfish or selfless, at least the environment is benefitting. Replace paper towels, used to wipe down machines, with small cloths and eco-friendly sprays.

Cut out paper

Ten years ago the advice was to print on double-sided paper. Today, printing is no longer necessary. With technology developing faster than you could print an A4 memo, it is time to digitalise your bookings and database. Too many organisations continue to rely on bulky ring binders to store invoices and a black book for bookings where data is scattered and far from secure. When you switch to a booking system, like OpenPlay, you cut out the majority of paper you use, and your information is secured safely in a central database.

People Power

Electricity needs energy in order to activate. Where can energy be found, if not in little humans trying to burn calories at the gym? SportsArt is a green fitness company that produces people-powered exercise bikes, ellipticals and treadmills. The machines work by capturing 74% of the energy created during workouts and feeding it back to the grid. The ‘VERDE’ is the only energy harvesting treadmill in the industry. Visit Go Sports Art for more details.

Plastic Bags

Many gyms kindly supply plastic bags for wet swimsuits and sweaty fitness gear. It would be difficult to do without these, as laptops become damp and bags start to smell. With the planet in mind, however, many clubs are choosing cotton bags over plastic. They are reusable, so customers need to remember to bring them to the club. However, once the system is in place people will add their cotton bag to the list of gym gear, lock, water bottle.

The war on plastic is alive and kicking. The minister for the environment just banned plastic straws; a minute step for man. It is time to take a giant leap for the planet. If our words still haven’t convinced you to create an eco-friendly gym, perhaps Sir David Attenborough can be of assistance…

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What we can learn from Icelandic Sport

22 May 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Operations, Technology

With a population of just 334,000, Iceland is the smallest nations, ever, to qualify for the Euros, and they did it twice. Icelandic women dominate European Crossfit, and the gymnastics team were European Champions in 2010 and 2012. The people may be tall with Viking strength, but their genetics have little to do with their sporting success. The men’s FIFA world ranking dropped from 131 in May 2016 to just 18 in 2018. The current players are products of 15 years of significant government investment in sport and health.

Government policy

In 1998, Iceland had one of the highest rates of substance abuse in Europe. Seven years later the country had one of the lowest rates. The government remedied this by enticing youths into sports. Financial support was given to low-income families so that children could afford organised sport. Incentives were issued to reward healthy lifestyles. The number of teenagers actively participating in sport rose from 23% to 42%. Today Iceland has the cleanest living teens in Europe. Despite the extra spending, Iceland is still one of the wealthiest nations per capita in the world.


The Icelandic government makes it a requirement for children to partake in at least three sports sessions at school per week. Not only does this promote a healthier lifestyle, but allows for kids to make long lasting friendships. These friendships help to keep children interested in team sports.

Inclusive community spirit

With facilities in every village, football is available to everyone. Not only that, but everybody is encouraged to play, regardless of their abilities. The best players progress to higher age groups and girls that are stronger, train with the boys until they are 16. Despite streaming the system, everyone receives the same standard of coaching. This inclusive attitude is key to avoiding the typical teen “drop-off,” which is so familiar in the UK.

World-class indoor facilities

Iceland is a country with harsh, long winters, with short days and frequent snowfall. During winter, nighttime lasts for up to 20 hours each day. The state has pumped money into indoor facilities for the last 15 years. Iceland has 30 full-size all-weather pitches, seven of which are indoor, and nearly 150 smaller artificial areas. The national football team’s coach described the dome pitches as “a revelation.” There is now an artificial pitch close to almost every school. Their success at the 2016 and 2017 Euros led to the players being nicknamed the “indoor kids.” Not only is there indoor football pitches, but indoor skate parks, badminton courts, and ping pong tables. There is a sports hall in virtually every village in the country.

Number of coaches

The country has over 800 UEFA-licensed coaches, which is an extraordinarily high number, considering its size. To compare, England has a population 15 times that of Iceland, yet the number of UEFA coaches is less than 1500. The coaches in the Nordic region have much more flexibility to alter their coaching methods to suit their students, whereas British coaches have to adhere to a national model. At the age of four, every child receives a UEFA-accredited coach who encourages them to partake in football, no matter what their sporting ability.

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The Best Management Tools for Sports Providers

15 May 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Operations

Who doesn’t love a good list? Post it notes, an A4 pad, the notes section of your smartphone. All are great in their own right, but they don’t encompass Excel, share easily with large teams, or sync with all of your devices. With the rise of the smartphone entrepreneur, comes a host of useful management tools that can be used on a desktop or on the go.

When choosing management tools, you must consider their ability to integrate with the rest of your software; they are intended to streamline tasks and save time, after all. If you have many applications working together, it is crucial that your management tool is an all-in-one business solution; otherwise, it is not worth the hassle.

Trello: Task Management

Trello is the app for people who want to get stuff done, helping teams to collaborate on projects. Trello syncs across all of your devices, allowing you to work with your team no matter where you are. It integrates with other tools such as Slack, so notifications are streamlined across communication channels. The app allows for calendar view so that you can see your upcoming meetings and deadlines at a glance. Trello is free for personal use, but this setting doesn’t integrate with other apps. Upgrade to Business Class and £10 per month per user to utilise team overviews, app integration, and increased security.

Asana: Project Management

Asana is an alternative to Trello and is trusted by businesses such as Tesco, Reuters, and Deloitte. Track projects from start to finish, with tasks ranked in order of priority and assigned to individuals. Asana encourages brainstorming, organisation, and productivity through visually astute timelines, boards, and to-do lists. If you have less than 15 team members, you can opt for Asana’s free plan. Premium hikes the prices to £10 per team member per month.

Buffer: Social Media Management

With the number of social media platforms from which you “must” be sharing content, it can be challenging to keep up. Should you post an AI video on Snapchat? Must you take an interest in Pinterest? Buffer concentrates this stress by letting you schedule posts in bulk. All of your social media platforms are huddled together in your Buffer account. You can automate an update across all of your platforms, or tailor it to suit each one individually. For example, you may want lots of hashtags on your Twitter posts, while opting for a classy and concise version on LinkedIn. Track your post engagement with Buffer analytics. If you’re a small business with only three social accounts, you can get away with the free starter plan. It allows you to schedule 10 posts at a time which is still a big saver! The Pro version is £15 per month and lets you pre-plan 100 posts at any given time.

OpenPlay: Booking and Customer Relationship Management

Here at OpenPlay, we provide bespoke booking systems that are specifically geared towards sports venues and activities. Our venue management software caters to block bookings, recurring payments, voucher codes and lots more. You can quickly amend, cancel, or refund a reservation and issue automatic confirmations to customers. Manage memberships via your dedicated members’ section, with integrated direct debits and invoicing. Our CRM (customer relationship management) system records your client interactions, so all information is up-to-date, relevant, and personalised. A quick glance at your OpenPlay dashboard tells you your facility’s usage rates, financial information, and demographic breakdown. All of this data helps you improve scheduling, finetune your pricing plans, and, ultimately, increase sales.

Slack: Internal Communication Management

Slack is a communication app and desktop plugin that keeps work communication separate from business emails and personal messages. It is widely used by companies big and small. Slack works much like Whatsapp, in its rolling messaging style. Your conversations are categorised into “channels” that you and your staff create. For example, you could have an “Instructors” channel and a separate “Managers” channel. With better in-house communication streamlined, you can set goals quicker and keep employees on the ball.

Zero: Account management

Some people love storing receipts, Excel spreadsheets, and filing taxes. Some people are difficult to comprehend. No matter the size of your club, someone or something must do your accounts. Xero is an accounting software service, usable by both financial experts and novices. Set up automatic invoice chasing, so you never have to BLOCK CAPS email your employees again. Xero is loved by Mac users as it is cloud-based software, so will work on any computer without compromising features. The tool displays your cashflow in real time, speeding up your online invoicing. Xero integrates with more than 600 apps including one we rate very highly… The OpenPlay Pocket App! The starter option includes all of the features but restricts usage to five invoices, five bills, and 20 transaction reconciliations per month. Prices begin at £10/mo. On the Standard plan, you can process an infinite number of invoices. Higher packages start at £22-£27.50/mo.


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