Since we began teaching lessons in our home-based studio back in 2003, we had been using Microsoft Excel for our Master Schedule, teacher paytrackers, and all other teaching data that we recorded. In 2005 we opened our first commercial location and began using the retail software by Get Physical called Music Soft based on Filemaker. In 2008, when we began auto-billing students, we implemented a merchant account from TSYS and Authorize.net to handle the reoccurring credit and debit card subscriptions and transactions. We also had a separate merchant accounts from for our retail sales with manual machines and card swipes.
In 2010 we upgraded our retail systems to Quick Books Retail, which was nice, but this system could still not do scheduling and reoccurring billing.
Like many schools/academies, as we grew so did the complexities of accurately managing more and more students, teachers and locations. We found ourselves spending many man-hours each week to keep all of these systems current. There was always the possibility of human error that could cost both money and cause customer service issues, because when you have disjointed systems, there is no way of guaranteeing that information will be consistent across the board.
Training was another big area of concern. Even with a detailed training manual, bringing in a new person required a lot of days of handholding. Having to use Excel so much caused a bit of an intimidation with folders full of monthly files and trackers that had to be emailed back and forth to teachers, updated, and kept current each and every month. We had a system that worked, but it was labor intensive, time consuming and prone to errors. For our management team to connect during off-hours (every day during the morning until our schools opened at 1pm), we used to have a subscription for every computer with Go To My PC so that we could log on to any of the three school computers and access the files. That was an additional annual cost of about $250 and although it worked fine, it was still another “login” to go through.
As we grew from 200 students being taught in our home to over 700 students in three locations that we were teaching in 2010, the multiple systems that had worked for us in the beginning became cumbersome and very time consuming. We had looked at different solutions, such as Music Soft and Jackrabbit software, but none of them could be easily customized to our liking:there was always something that they didn't do, thus discouraging us from fully implementing them.
Our Story: Arriving at the MINDBODY DecisionI
In the spring of 2011, we discovered MINDBODY Online software quite by accident through a friend of ours who had recently opened a yoga studio around the corner from our school in Avalon Park. After seeing how easy it was for a yoga studio to set up and run a similar appointment-based business, we were determined to take the leap and simplify our operations with a single solution and make our lives easier.
One of the biggest fears a business owner usually has is "change" and especially radical change, where everything you did is going to be different! We had this same fear, but honestly from the moment we started working with our dedicated support rep, Joey Saldana, we were immediately put at ease and felt a sense of confidence. He made things very easy to understand and gave us session after session of patient and knowledgeable support throughout the entire conversion process. Working with us over the phone and email, we put the whole custom configuration together in about 30 days. He worked with his data conversion team to bring over all our customer and retail product data and made great suggestions of how things could be improved as we went along.
The only process that could not be automated was transferring customers’ credit card info. The previous system we were using was totally encrypted, and card and expiration data were not accessible. This proved to be the most time consuming part of the conversion, as we had to request this info from each of our current students and manually enter or swipe it into the system. This was a one-time process that had to be done (we recommend gathering that data from your clients as soon as you decide to implement MINDBODY, so you will have it all once you go live with the software).
Our system went live in August, 2011 and after a couple hours of basic training, our school managers were able to start running it on their own. There was a discovery and "wringing out" period when we fine tuned and learned more and more about how the software works, but all in all our team has been very happy with the "new" way of doing things. We are currently running all day-to-day operations at our three schools with close to 50 teachers and over 800 students.
John, back in the day (circa 2007), showing multiple systems being used including, Music Soft, Excel Spread sheets on general computer and Intuit Manual credit card Terminal, Quickbooks Retail. It all worked, but none of these systems were or integrated or connected and required a lot of manual updating to keep everything straight!
Current system is now a iMac with Mag Card Reader, CCD Bar Code Reader and standard printer attached. This is all managed by one person at our school (Avalon School of Music manager Ashley Heartfield loves working with MINDBODY!) All transactions run through this single or multlple PC/MAC located anyware in the school. Ashley can look up anything from lesson schedules to what a customer purchased, to how many lessons they had, to updating their CC info, all from one single log in...No wonder she's smiling!
Philip is the director and part owner of the Orlando School of Music. He runs a lean, mean and tight machine. Using Mindbody to manage things, he has doubled revenues in the 12 months since he has taken over this school and contributes his sucess to being extremely positive and setting specific goals on an ongoing basis!
Our Three Central Florida Music Schools:
Our third and newest school that opened in August 2008, Avalon School of Music is located in East Orlando, in a town named Avalon Park. John is pictured with several teacher and students posing for a feature in a local magazine called Insight. View that article here: http://www.insighteastorlando.com/rollingfeatured/avalon-school-of-music-teaching-inspiring-and-growing-the-next-generation-of-musicians/
Orlando School of Music is our second school, opened Aug 2007, and covers the downtown and central areas of Orlando.
Our first and largest School & Retail Center, East Orlando School of Music Opened May 2005