The biggest challenge for volunteers, coaches, parents, and participants is typically registering and paying to play. Collecting information, managing money, and sorting participants and parents before the season can take dozens of hours.
At the end of the year we like to make a post with tips to improve the registration process at your sports organization. We learn new tips and tricks each year and our ideas below can help you save time in 2018!
1. Keep your fees simple
Keeping your pricing simple causes less confusion and results in fewer mistakes. Thinking of offering different prices for each age group, or discounts for this or that? We suggest reducing the number of complicated fees, and charging a flat fee for each player. It makes the lives of board members and coaches easier and reduces confusion for parents.
You might have a couple of families that make special requests, and you can handle those as they come. But, don't offer a lot of different complex pricing options. There are no reason to open up unecessary cans of worms when you're volunteering to run a sports program.
2. Collect only the important information about players
We notice a lot of organizations use complicated forms that take parents too much time to complete. Do you really need to know each player's grandmother's cell phone number? Or could you get by with only the most important contact information? The more information you collect, the more likely you are to get parents rushing through the form and giving you inaccurate information about the player. Collecting only important information will save time and ensure you get reliable answers.
3. Allow one payment option
The more options you give the participants, the more work you'll wind up creating for yourself. Most parents prefer to pay with a card for their purchases for a variety of reasons. Giving them a convenient option to pay with a card online is one of the quickest ways to gain more participants and save time with registration. In most cases, we recommend only offering payment online and not suggesting cash or check payment.
Sure, you'll have a few parents that make a special request to pay with a different method, but a vast majority will be fine paying with whichever method is easiest for your organization and you'll save yourself loads of paperwork and trips to the bank.
4. Open Registration Early
You want more people to participate, right? Opening registration early doesn't require any extra work on your end and allows you to get more participants in the door well in advance of the season. Early reganizations give you a good feel for the amount of of players that will be playing next season so you can plan in advance. If you want more players to participate, the earlier you open registration the better.
We typically recommend opening registration at least 4 months before the season starts. But, many organizations open registration immediately when the previous season ends, sometimes 9+ months in advance. This allows parents to register for the following season when your sport is "top of mind".
5. Don't forget to promote your registration!
It doesn't matter how well you set up your registration if no one knows about it!
Make sure you post regularly on your social media accounts when registration is open and answer questions from participants quickly. You can share links directly to your registration page so that people can register and pay with just a few clicks.
Many organizations also use Text Messaging and Email to announce when registration opens and update parents when there are just a few days left to register. Sending out an email to last season's participants is a great way to get parents started with registration. Try an email and/or text message reminder every few weeks during registration to make sure parents know it's time to register.
What have you been doing to make online registration simpler for everyone involved? Send us a message at email@example.com - we'd love to add to our list.