Tennis managers, are you putting technology on your side? Part 1

We now live in such a technology driven world.  I don’t know a single person whose life has not been improved by technology. Today, we mostly communicate via email or social media, we have smart phones, we bank and shop online, enroll our kids for activities online, schedule appointments online,  we also use the latest tennis rackets and tennis shoes… So many aspects of our lives have been simplified with online technology.  But why are we still managing our clubs using rudimentary technology such as paper or Excel? This series of articles will give you tips on  ways you can put technology on your side to help you manage your programs faster, better, and overall, more efficiently:

 1) Get an online court scheduling system ( if you haven’t already)

Flipping pages of the huge scheduling book is so inefficient in this day and age. When there is a court or a time change, adjusting that  change in a giant notebook can be a real pain, not to mention prone to errors. How about booking a fixed time for a set of courts for weeks ahead? One will have to flip through pages and pages only to mark the wrong time and create mass confusion. There are plenty of good court scheduling systems out there to tackle this part of your operations. A well designed online system should at minimum have these features:

a) Should be a SaaS ( software as a service) model. This means that you do not need to download anything on a specific machine, buy a CD, or purchase a license; you simply log in online to complete your tasks. Most importantly, you do not have any contract and cancel the service at any time.

b) Easy to use: if you need extensive training to use the tool, chances are your employees won’t be able to use it effectively. Find something that’s intuitive and easy to use.

c) Booking courts in advance: Allow you or your staff to easily book courts in advance for repeated activities such as classes or clinics.  Preferably, you want the different types of activities to be color coded; it will be easier for everyone to see on the screen.

d) Automatic email confirmations: your system should allow you to automatically send email confirmations to clients when they book a court, make changes to an existing reservation, or cancel a court. This means, less time on the phone for your staff and more time completing other tasks. This also means good records of your communication with clients.

e) Good client management features: the system should easily organize your client’s information and even allow you to create different groups such as 4.0 men, Women 3.0 league, etc. to better manage your clients. Plus, the system should allow your clients to log in and book/pay for a court without having to call the club.

f) Easy and Affordable pricing: a good court booking system should not cost you and arm and a leg and it should be easy for you to understand which features you are paying for. You will usually pay for according to the number of courts in your facility and according to the set of features you want.  Try to stay away from models where you have to pay for so many add-ons. A system with a pricing model that’s confusing is not a good sign.

g) Good support: make sure that the company has a good support team to answer any questions you or your staff may have, or to fix any issues you might encounter.

Newer online court booking systems may have phone apps, text messaging features, and other cool gadgets. Those are great, and can make life even easier. But if at minimum you have the features mentioned above, you already have a decent system. So go ahead, take advantage of all the wonderful technology out there and simplify your life as a tennis manager!