ClassDex: Class and Customer Management for WordPress

28 Aug

When my wife and I took over as directors of a yoga studio, at the time almost everything was done with pen and paper. Class registration was kept in a big binder — each student’s name and phone number was written by hand which often made it difficult to read the information. A mailing list was kept in a huge excel sheet and the information there was often old and inaccurate. Accounting was also done by hand, a process that would take a full day at the end of each month.

I knew we needed a system that was more integrated — a system that brought together student contact information, class registrations, and payment tracking. So I began looking at different options, and in my first month on the job I got a call from the folks at MindBodyOnline, a company that promises to offer everything I wanted and more. It’s popular software that is used by lots of studios and works for many businesses, but I wanted more control over my own business and I didn’t want to pay $175/month!

Yoga studio owners are accustomed to wearing many hats: We are the janitors and building maintenance crew, we manage class schedules and store inventories, do the accounting, pay taxes and payroll. But when it comes to technology, many studio owners opt to turn over the keys to someone else. This technology outsourcing comes in a couple of different forms: web-based software (like MindBodyOnline) that you have to pay monthly for or a web developer that has a larger setup fee and smaller on-going maintenance fees. In either case you’re spending quite a bit each year to keep your website going.

I decided I didn’t want to take any of those routes. I wanted an option that was free, easy to use, robust enough to manage all of the aspects of our business, but at the same time didn’t have so many bells and whistles that it became difficult to use. With no options like this forthcoming, I decided to learn the coding skills necessary to build the system myself.

I really enjoy the process of coding and all of the problem solving involved in that, so gradually over the last year I began to develop a program that we could use for our business. The more I worked on the program, the more I thought, “Lots of other studios and educational facilities need something like this! There should be a viable alternative to MindBodyOnline. Something that is free and accessible.” So I decided the share the program, called ClassDex, on WordPress: http://wordpress.org/plugins/classdex/

In the few months since we’ve switched over to using ClassDex, I’ve seen great improvements to our business operations. We’re now doing a better job of keeping student contact information up-to-date and capturing the contact information of new students — which means that we’re doing a better job of retaining the students who walk through our door. Accounting work that used to take me a full day each month, now only takes me 5 minutes. And our office staff picked up the new system quickly. If you are a studio owner that focuses on registration-based classes, then this might be a really good option for you!

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12 Responses to “ClassDex: Class and Customer Management for WordPress”

  1. Krishna Thakur November 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    How do I change currency from $ to £ as my customers are in the UK?

    • howtononprofit November 8, 2013 at 10:06 am #

      In Cart66 you can set the currency symbol that will be displayed to the user.

      Thanks,
      John

  2. Mukesh December 28, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    How can we create a “self-service” model? For example let students or better Parent’s register their children to classes.

    • howtononprofit January 2, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

      Hi Mukesh,
      ClassDex is built to be “self-service”. Users can visit your site, select a class, and pay for it. You’ll receive an email from your payment gateway with the registration and payment information, and you or the site administrator will need to enter that information into the ClassDex back-end. It is not automatically entered, but it is a fairly simple process.
      Thanks,
      John

      • mukeshwani278 January 2, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

        Thanks for the response John. Perhaps I’m not understanding it fully then or I am missing something. On my sandbox I have added a class then from the frontend I have a sample page with class listed. When I register or add the class to checkout, I am asked to enter names of the students and complete the checkout. On the backend in Classdex I do not see the Students names in the Browse section nor in the Class List. So is that what you mean we have to enter manually? I do see the order in the Cart66 plugin.

        Thanks
        Mukesh

      • howtononprofit January 2, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

        Right, you have to create the students in ClassDex — manually copy their contact information and then register them.

  3. mukeshwani278 January 2, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    Thanks John. That last piece would be excellent to have on an already good plugin. Only that manual student registration is what may prevent us from using this for now. Once that integration is there it will be perfect for a non-profit like us where we have over 1000 students registered by their parents each year, and the volunteer work would be too much to manually enter however I will present this to rest of the team and see what they say. What is the integration/requirement of cart66 if that information is not transferred? Cart66 requires sign up with Mijireh which is added cost.

    • howtononprofit January 2, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

      Thanks Mukesh! Cart66 allows you to integrate with Paypal Express and Paypal Web Payment Standard, both free. To use Paypal Payment Standard on the checkout page use the shortcodes: [cart mode=”read”] [checkout_paypal]

      The integration between ClassDex and Cart66 is what enables ClassDex to create products in Cart66 which can be sold on your site. But I never worked on the capacity for Cart66 to send information back to ClassDex. I had originally considered automatically creating and registering users, however this is almost impossible to do without forcing users to create accounts and login to the site before registering. Without login accounts it’s difficult to uniquely identify users, and almost impossible to do things like register multiple students at one time. I wanted to make checkout easy on customers, so I avoided forcing them to create accounts.

      I originally built ClassDex for a non-profit that also utilizes a volunteer staff. We found that despite a certain amount of manual entry, the registration process goes very quickly, especially for repeat student who are already in the system.

      Good luck!
      John

  4. Fabrizio June 4, 2014 at 12:25 am #

    Just wanted to say thanks for making this and releasing it! We’re so lucky to have something like this accessible to us. You’re a hero!

    • howtononprofit June 4, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Thanks so much Fabrizio! I’m glad it’s working for you. =)

      If you’re willing to share, what type of business are you using ClassDex for?

  5. Paul P August 12, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    Hi, Are there any wp templates that already have this plugin installed that you recommend. Im trying to set up a wp website that is for registration fof multi-day classes which are held around the globe. Any suggestions? Thanks

    • howtononprofit August 21, 2014 at 11:32 am #

      Hi Paul, there aren’t any templates that I know of that already have ClassDex installed. If there are templates that have Cart66 installed already that could be helpful, but this plugin should work with any template.
      Thanks,
      John

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