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Membership and Bookings Made Easy! 

Group Sailing How WebCollect is helping Sandwell Valley Sailing Club

Sandwell Valley SC in the Black Country is showing how even the smallest sailing clubs can apply innovative online solutions to meet their needs.

The club is now using WebCollect’s club membership and payment software to manage bookings for all of its taster sessions and RYA courses. Centralising this information online is reducing paperwork, preventing any confusion over bookings, and eliminating the need to chase payments.

As Sandwell Valley SC chief instructor Chris Cousins explains: ‘We had a lot of difficulties with people not turning up for courses they’d booked on, or telling us they’d booked on and there was no record of it; there was no official process, we’d be chasing people for payment, and I was trying to manage all of this alongside my full-time day job. So we started to look at solutions where perhaps we could do something online.’

The club originally tried Google Forms, which can be a great tool for collecting information, and also had a look at using JotForm, but neither was fully suited to the club’s needs, so Chris decided to look at what other clubs were using and came across WebCollect.

WebCollect is a flexible and easy online solution for clubs to manage membership subscriptions, courses and events, with payments collected via bank transfer, PayPal, cheque or cash; pages can be linked to your club website and customised with logos, colours, images and information.

‘It’s brilliant!’ says Chris. ‘It enables us to manage absolutely everything remotely; we don’t do membership through it at the moment - we feel some of our less technologically minded members may struggle with this online - but we do all the training bookings and taster sessions through it.’

Sandwell Valley SC is located in a public park, making it great for walk-up business, and it was essential to get the club’s website up-to-date so those asking for information can log on and find the correct link for bookings, which are paid for online through PayPal. Alternatively one of the club’s WebCollect administrators follows up enquiries with a call and takes bookings over the phone using the system, then sends an invoice to be paid as soon as possible.

A third of all bookings are now online directly through the WebCollect site by customers, one third are over the phone using the system, and one third are block bookings by the local Sea Cadets, whose leader is one of three WebCollect administrators at the club. The key to the success of the system is that all bookings are now easy to access and in one location - WebCollect.

Centralised System

‘It’s enabled us to be far more transparent with what’s going to happen at the weekend,’ says Chris. ‘All the information is in one place - rather than on Fred’s computer and John’s computer and whoever else’s - thanks to one centralised online system. There are a set number of places against each course, and if someone is not on that booking system, they’re not coming. So we don’t get this ridiculous scenario where somebody turns up on a Saturday morning for a course they’re not actually on. It’s a very set process to follow so it’s made it more efficient.’

An added bonus for very small clubs like Sandwell Valley SC is that there is virtually no cost; the WebCollect service has no charge for clubs with less than 50 members - with charges then dependent on membership numbers ranging, for example, from £60 for 50-100 members to £600 for 1,500-2,500 members, with larger organisations asked to get in touch. While there is a small cost associated with PayPal, this can be offset in the upfront course fees.

‘WebCollect is the best solution I’ve seen. It does take a little bit of setting up in the first instance but once you’ve got a standardised form, it takes two seconds to set up a new course,’ says Chris. ‘I would absolutely recommend it to any club that’s ever had a headache with paper forms or spreadsheets, forms getting lost or having to be emailed, or people booking for a course and then not actually turning up and therefore not paying, so you’ve lost a space you could have used. Up-front deposits have taken away that problem no end, and moving to one centralised system makes club administration massively easier.’

Top Tips

Chris has three tips for any club looking to go down a similar route:

  • Ensure course or membership fees cover any associated costs rather than mentioning booking fees which some may find off-putting.
  • Larger clubs with paid staff, who can help members switch to online renewals, may want to run memberships as well as training through WebCollect - Draycote Water SC is among those now using the system; smaller clubs may want to start with just training initially because it’s easy to set up.
  • Having decided what part of your club administration you would like to run online, don’t be tempted to run it alongside your existing/paper system – ‘The system only works if you worship it,’ says Chris. ‘Don’t do half and half!’

Find out more about Sandwell Valley Sailing Club here.  

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