In a recent article, we introduced the five most important questions you need to answer to determine if now is the right time for you to begin using a software product to manage your business. I’ve answered two of those five important questions: “Is my business big enough to benefit from an online studio management software program?” and “Does my studio’s business income justify the cost of business software?” In this article, we look into the question #3:
Will the software I select deliver on needed efficiencies?
Two things you can do to help answer this question:
- Firmly establish what features you need so you can match the software tools to your business’s needs.
- Seek the opinion of others using the tools you are considering.
Let’s look at both of these.
Match the business tools to your business
Everyone is naturally going to try to sell you on their business tools by claiming “We’re the best!” So then, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff, and determine which solution is the right and best solution for your business?
First, be aware that the common phrase “You get what you pay for” does not always apply when it comes to business management software. Software products differ dramatically in price, features, ease of use, and customer support.
Step #1 then is to decide what operational efficiencies you seek – bookkeeping? status reports? customer self-service tools? – because not all products will deliver what you need. So, to start your product selection:
- Identify your top business needs – Solutions to business problems that a software solution must be able to help you with.
- Make a list of your “nice-to-have’s” – Those features a software product may offer that would be handy, but are not deal-breakers for you.
Dividing your list into needs vs. wants will help you choose one product over another. I.e., is having the ability to print an attendance report that takes up half-a-sheet of paper is more important or less important that being able to produce accurate and easy-to-read financial reports at the end of each month?
Take a look at the independent dance studio software comparison site Capterra. As of this writing, there are over 50 products on that list. But some of those software solutions offer only one or two business management features, such as just bookkeeping, or just class scheduling.
Using the Capterra product comparison site as an example, try checking off all of the features listed in the right Features column that you are looking for:
If you click them all, you will suddenly see that the more-than-50 software products drops to just seven products that include all these features:
Seek the opinion of other customers
Another way to evaluate business management software is by looking at the opinions of others.
Using Capterra as an example once again, take a look at their list of dance school software reviews. Presently, of the 50-plus software providers listed, there are only 10 businesses in which customers have submitted reviews. That should tell you something.
How strong are those reviews, and how many are there? Some products have only three reviews while others have more than 30:
That should also tell you something, as should the nature of the comments themselves. Product reviews are a good way to learn about a product from the perspective of those who use the product.
It is important that you make a smart choice on your initial software purchase because, while you can always switch later, the work involved in doing so can be daunting. Transferring your bookkeeping data, for instance from one software solution to another, may be difficult depending on the data import/export features and functionality each program has.
For this reason, data import capabilities are one of those features you should ask about. Alternatively, ask if the service provider has a data upload service available. This can greatly simplify the business of transferring.
Or, make the right choice from the get-go and you won’t need to worry about transferring data later.
In our next article on this topic, we’ll answer the 4th of the five important questions: Will the studio business management software I choose generate new business? This is a biggie because, if the features can actually boost sales, then the software can pay for itself! More later…
Jon Koerber, Pres., ClassJuggler
PS: When choosing a business software program for your studio, check out our family of products:
- ClassJuggler Dance – online dance school software that will save you time and money on the business of running your business, so you can focus on your students
- CheerClassJuggler – online gymnastics and cheer management software to streamline the business of operating your gymnastics school or cheer camp
- ClassJuggler Dojo – a martial arts school management platform designed to support the operational challenges of businesses such as karate schools, kung fu schools, self-defense courses, mixed martial arts centers, taekwondo training, fencing classes, kickboxing studios, Jeet Kune Do or Jiu-Jitsu schools
- SwimClassJuggler – online swim school management software supporting the needs of those who own and operate swimming schools, water rescue classes, life guard schools, and diver training schools
- MusicClassJuggler – all-in-one online business management tools that make customer, academics, and music class management a breeze for vocal training centers and instrumental music training centers
- K12ClassJuggler – a management platform that supports the busy schedules of those who own and operate preschools, K-12 education, adult education programs, evening learning schools, night classes, and after-school programs
- ClassJugglerFitness – slimming down record keeping for athletics schools, fitness centers, spin classes, yoga sessions, and tennis camps
Also, if you are a franchise owner, make sure to check out our franchise management software solutions as well.