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!