There are still several months until youth football practice begins for the 2018 season. You may still be wrapping up the 2017 season and recruiting new coaches or board members for next year.
But don't wait until summer to start registering players. Follow the tips below and you'll have your organization rolling in just a few minutes.
Youth Football Online Registration Tip #1 - Include an Option to Sponsor or Donate during registration
Finding new sponsors is tough - you might be making calls to local businesses, emailing parents when the season starts, or just hoping that someone contacts you asking to help your organization. The first step in getting new sponsors for 2018 is to make it easy to contribute, and we've seen many organizations using Jersey Watch get hundreds of dollars (or even over $1,000) in sponsorships and donations from parents during the registration process.
It's as simple as having a question in your form asking parents if they would like to sponsor (or donate) to the organization this year. You can even provide different levels (like Gold, Silver, and Bronze) of sponsorship so they have a few different options. Then, when they select an option the corresponding amount will be added to their total when they pay.
If you're using Jersey Watch for online registration, you can easily set up questions that allow parents to sponsor or donate extra funds to your organization during registration.
When parents are registering they are excited about football season and they already have their credit card handy. They want to help your organization, so be sure to let them! Even if you only a get a few extra sponsors using this method, you'll be likely to raise $500 to $1,000 to help your teams for next season - and no extra work required for you!
Tip #2 - Make things easy (for participants and for you)
The simpler your registration process is, the fewer questions you'll get from parents, and the less time you'll have to invest this offseason in getting players registered.
We often notice football programs asking unnecessary questions in their forms, causing parents to take a long time to get registered. Make sure you only ask the most important questions (like birthdates, clothing sizes, volunteer preferences, waiver agreements, etc.) and skip questions that aren't absolutely necessary (grandparent contact info, preferred position, favorite coach, etc.)
Keeping the process simple allows parents to register quickly from their phone or iPad, doesn't require they go searching for answers to your questions, and most importantly keeps them from calling or emailing you with frustration.
Need more ideas to make your registration process simpler? Check out our blog post 5 ways to simplify your registration process.
Tip #3 - Reach out to last year's families now
The most likely participants for next season are the players from last season. Many parents are still excited about the 2017 season and getting them in the door now guarantees more participation for the 2018 season.
At equipment turn-in, your postseason banquet, or in any wrap up emails be sure to let parents know that now is the time to reserve their spot for the 2018 season. Many football programs like to offer bi-monthly camps during the offseason, or a short flag football program to keep parents engaged with the football program during the spring months.
Which leads into our fourth tip...
Tip #4 - Offer an "Early Bird" Discount
Parents will put anything off until the last minute (you might experience some parents asking to register after the season has started). So you've got to incentivize them and create urgency. Consider offering a 15% discount to parents that register a player before March 31, then raise the price to the regular rate beginning in April.
We've found early discounts allow your organization to get a good feel for how many participants will carry over to next season and prepare accordingly. It also gives parents the opportunity to share that they've already registered with their friends (parents tend to fall in line, they don't want to be that one disorganized parent in the community).
An early bird discont also gives you some leverage to send messages and post on social media to "Register before March 31 to get your discount for 2018!!!" instead of constantly sending the same reminder to parents over and over again.
Those birds swimming in the lake are going to miss out on your early bird discount.
Tip #5 - Promote it!
You've done all of the work to set up online registration, don't forget to let people know it's open.
New families have moved to your community since last year and younger players are just becoming old enough to participate in your program. Make sure they know about your football program!
Use all of the channels you can find to promote registration effectively! Make sure you're putting each method below to work this winter and spring:
- The tried and true methods - flyers and signs in your community. The age old strategy of posting signs at popular intersections and sending flyers to schools still works to create visibility in your community. Keep it simple, don't spend too much money (you can get cheap signs and flyers at a place like FedEx Office), and make sure the flyers and signs have clear instructions on how to register on your website (like www.example.com/registration) so parents don't have to go on a wild goose chase to get started.
- Social media - post on your social media accounts once per week while registration is open, but remember that just because you posted on social media does not mean that your post appeared in the feed of all of your followers. To be effective, you need to post often. If your organization doesn't have any social media accounts right now, we recommend setting up a Facebook page here - https://www.facebook.com/pages/create
- Advanced messaging - Sending texts and emails directly to parents in the community drives people to your website quickly. If you have a Jersey Watch website, you can send regular updates to parents and coaches using the Text & Email Communication feature. Sending text and email updates straight to parents' phones is the most effective message to reach them with important information. It just takes a few clicks to reach hundreds of people directly.
Proactively reaching parents using text messages or emails is the quickest way to distribute important information.
2018 Registration Kickoff
Getting started with registration the winter months may seem like overkill. But doing a bit of work now to get your registratoin set up will save you hours of work (not to mention stress) when the spring and summer months roll around. Sponsorship opportunities during the registration process are a great way to get parents to become more involved with the football program. The easier the registration process, the more likely parents are to share your organization with other community members. And incentivizing last year's participants with an early bird discount can get a good portion of your players registered months before practice begins.
Questions about setting up online registration for your football program? Or have other strategies that are helping you get ready for 2018? Send us a message at email@example.com.