MAD Squad is a performing arts program specifically designed for schools in Brisbane. They provide a range of after school classes that focus on music, acting and dancing (MAD). These classes encourage students to explore their talents and grow their confidence in the performing arts field at an early age.
Through MAD Squad’s online enrolment app, parents can register their children for classes each term, automatically receiving invoices, email notifications, and SMS reminders on the day of their child’s performance.
Client’s challenges and pain points
The owners of MAD Squad, Jackie and Matt, hadn’t made many changes to their internal management processes since having their original website developed several years ago. The site was fairly rudimentary in many ways, and had many limitations.
There were no streamlined processes for parents to register their children online. In fact, the processes were quite long-winded, labour intensive and time consuming for MAD Squad, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to provide timely information to parents.
Specifically, at the beginning of each term, Jackie and Matt had a long list of manual tasks to complete for each child’s registration, as well as for the ongoing management of each class. Their first step was to manually publish a basic registration form on their website, so that it was visible and accessible to parents on a specific date and time each term.
Once completed, this online form didn’t actually enrol students; it simply emailed the information to Jackie.
This meant that the second step was to copy and paste all of that information, bit by bit, into a spreadsheet and upload it to DropBox, so that their staff could upload it to an online mailing list app called MailChimp.
The third step required that staff create a separate subscriber list in MailChimp for each class, and each parent was then sent an email confirming receipt of their application.
The fourth step involved the owners printing out each child’s name on an A4 size sheet of paper and cutting these names into squares, so that they could physically move the children’s names around on another piece of paper, until each child was allocated to a class.
In cases where all the classes were full, Jackie and Matt had to inform parents that their child has missed out on a class for that term, again using MailChimp. Further emails informed parents of their child’s successful registration, and dates and times of the classes and performances.
Lastly, once everything was finalised, MAD Squad would create an invoice for each parent in their accounting software, Xero. All parents had to be manually added to the software first, then each invoice created individually with all of the information included (such as the child’s name). It was an extremely tedious process.
The owners went through a similar long-winded and time-consuming process if a student dropped out or wanted to change classes because their siblings were in another class (or at the request of the parents). This intensive process also included the time spent sending additional email campaigns to inform parents of key dates and scheduled performances during the school term. Jackie also kept all the email lists on her mobile phone, so she could send an SMS to each parent on the morning of performances with specific information about what to bring and where to be.
With 15 classes each year, and three enrolment periods (school term 1, terms 2/3 combined, and term 4) you can imagine the amount of work involved in these processes. It wasn’t until we found out more about their business and processes that we could propose a less labour-intensive solution!
On top of the issues with the enrolment side of things, MAD Squad also had two very old and outdated websites with a lot of design and technical issues, including identical content (which is very bad news if you want to be found in Google). When speaking to Jackie and Matt, we proposed that they combine the two websites into one, and start over. This also included adding an online store to sell their performing arts gear and accessories to students.
The owners of MAD Squad realised that there must be a better way to handle all these processes and asked GO Creative to help. In short, Jackie and Matt wanted a streamlined and hands-off solution to replace the time-consuming steps outlined above, as well as a new website and an online store.
Our solution was to design a completely custom web app, so that all the registration and management steps were automated as much as possible. This app needed to provide an online form for data acquisition, collate all of this information, make it easy to assign children to classes, and make it easy to keep parents in the loop.
A secondary consideration was to design a new, single website for MAD Squad and include an easy to use online store with a search facility and payment gateway.
These solutions would free up much of MAD Squad’s time in managing their website, online registrations, email campaigns, text messages, class allocations, reminders, invoices, and all the time-consuming steps in-between. With three terms each year, the owners hoped to free up more than 60 hours of their time each year – time which was lost on the host of inefficiencies inherent in their system.
Our team of developers created a web app that automated the enrolment, notification and email processes. This involved the creation of an online application form for parents that is scheduled to be published automatically at specific dates and times at the beginning of each school term, and disabled when enrolments close.
Parents can pre-register their email address to receive a reminder when the next enrolment period opens.
When enrolments are open and parents register, their details are instantly sent to MailChimp, Xero, and an SMS app. No more double-handling data.
To keep the MailChimp account organised, a new subscriber list is created each term automatically. When registrations start coming in, parents are added to the new list – for example “Term 2, 2018”.
The owners can then log into their enrolment management app (on any browser or device) to view a list of the year’s classes, dragging and dropping each student into one of the class lists. At the click of a button, they can confirm or decline each child’s registration in the class, or all registrations at once. An email is automatically sent to parents via MailChimp.
To ensure parents don’t forget about important events, they’ll automatically receive email and SMS reminders.
Email and SMS templates can be managed in the system, including placeholders for dates, classes and child names, so it’s extremely flexible.
Information about each performance can be entered for one or more classes, ensuring that the right parents receive the correct information every time. MAD Squad can even create separate templates for each school, class, or performance, giving them total control over what information is sent out.
GO Creative designed the system with enough flexibility and capacity to accommodate classes for more than one school. This means that if MAD Squad expands its operations into more schools in future, there will be no confusion amongst registrations, children, classes, emails and SMS notifications between schools.
The new MAD Squad website includes an online store with search facility, and a payment gateway. This makes the merchandise ordering process easier for both parents, and MAD Squad.
Investing in your business is critical to your success, and delivers a strong return on investment. We’re focused on automating any work which is tedious, repetitive or labour-intensive, while reducing the risk of human error. These tasks can add up to an enormous amount of wasted time.
With the launch of their new app, website and online store, the owners of MAD Squad now save a vast amount of time which far outweighs the cost of the project, even after just two enrolment terms since launch, at the time of writing.
The old adage that you have to spend money to make money is true more so than ever before. In this case, it has given the owners the opportunity to:
- save time and money
- improve customer satisfaction
- increase online product sales
- increase class enrolments
- focus on growing their business.
The team behind MAD Squad – Jackie and Matt – have reduced their time managing enrolments and processes from 60+ hours per term, to just 2.5 hours.
In addition, their online store is already growing their revenue and will continue to do so, as they add more products.
“This app has definitely streamlined and simplified our enrolment process. It not only serves a purpose during our enrolment period, but also fields those inquiries midterm of people who wish to be notified of upcoming enrolment periods in the future. Its ability to collate information and automatically generate response emails or invoices is invaluable.”