Calcot Park’s PGA Head Professional and Director of Golf Gareth Johnston switches over to ProAgenda.com, and explains why he now knows it’s the best decision he could have made.
With well over 400 students in his diary and database, Gareth Johnston is teaching for seven and more hours a day, five days a week and unsurprisingly time is a very precious commodity to him. Besides the teaching time, he’s also having to find time to organise everything, and as anyone who uses paper diaries and ‘phones to do it, agreeing a time and date that’s convenient with a customer/student is rarely just a matter of a couple of minutes.
The drawbacks of the printed diary
Johnston’s been using a paper diary ever since he started teaching as a full time PGA Professional, and was used to having 100% control over all his diary arrangements. But as things got progressively busier, he also found he’d be working into the evening dealing with the admin. If it couldn’t be done by then, it meant there would be that much more to do the next morning.
Then there was the time taken by the simple e-mail or text exchanges to work out a time and date that worked for both the student and Johnston, typically starting with a time and date that the student wanted, but which on checking his diary Johnston would find he was busy and so they needed to try a different time/date etc. “This usually meant at least three or four messages both ways, all of which you can’t deal with while you’re teaching!” explains Johnston.
When Gareth was told about the ProAgenda.com lesson booking software system, and how it would enable his students to check his diary online and book the times that were available, Johnston realised it could be the 21st century solution to his diary management issues. Even better, being online they could do this at any time or place 24/7 without needing to take any of Johnston’s time either, meaning he could spend more time for other things like his young family.
A 21st century online solution
So a demo was arranged with Guy Woodman, ProAgenda.com’s man in the UK, and Bob Kruijs, one of the directors from Amsterdam, and within a short space of time Johnston saw that their online diary was going to be exactly what he needed. He signed up there and then for the branded version called Academy, so that his online diary would fit seamlessly with all his other online collateral, website etc.
What’s it like for a new user?
Johnston’s now had the ProAgenda.com system in the Academy package for just over five weeks, so what does he think of it now? Johnston explains: “One immediate benefit is that I can now see and do everything in terms of lessons on my iPhone, which of course is with me all the time, whereas the old paper diary stayed in the shop.
Booking online saves time and improves customer service
“The next point I’d make is that now with ProAgenda.com, any one of my students can book a lesson with me without having to call or visit the shop, or take up any of my time or that of my assistants. When there’s one person running the shop while I’m out teaching – and I’m teaching between eight and 11 lessons every day – a ‘phonecall may well be interrupting a sale with another customer or member.
“If that call is about a lesson and taking several minutes to agree and organise, your customer’s standing around feeling that no-one’s looking after them, and they may need to be getting out onto the first tee for a particular time. That’s not good service. But with ProAgenda.com, that problem’s pretty well eliminated and you can focus on your customers. That’s great service.”
“The time saving factor’s massive. I’m already very busy every day with teaching, but now all time spent setting up the lesson bookings is being done online by my students, and all I have to do is check my iPhone every now and then to see what my diary’s looking like. I can easily do this out on the range or wherever I happen to be, any time I need to, which is rarely ever in the Pro Shop!”
“So for what isn’t a big investment, ProAgenda.com’s saving me a lot of valuable time.”
Makes you look even more professional
Johnston’s noticed other benefits as well. “Another point I’d make is how good the ProAgenda.com’s pages look on-screen. They look highly professional, while being branded in my Calcot Park colours etc. The diary doesn’t just look like it’s been lifted from Outlook, which a number of the other booking systems do.”
Setting up is easy, training is first class
Deciding to get new software is one thing, but setting it all up is another. Although the training is usually done in the UK at the customer’s facility, on this occasion Johnston opted to go to the ProAgenda.com offices in Amsterdam. A great way to spend a couple of days, but what did Johnston think of their training?
He says: “As part of the deal, although I could have done it in the UK, I went over to The Netherlands to meet with Bob and Jordy who would help me with setting up my version of ProAgenda.com. This was over two days and was a very good experience anyway, but it’s hard to imagine any other supplier happy to go to these lengths to keep their customers happy and fully trained up.”
“The first step, transferring all my students’ contact details database, was all very simple. Like many other PGA Professionals, I’ve been using the GASP and ‘Golf’s the Game’ system for teaching swing improvement, and this had my database of 400-500 students’ contact details. As part of the setting up, Jordy extracted it and loaded it onto my new ProAgenda.com system, so that saved me a lot of trouble as well!”
“The whole training process going through all the features of ProAgenda.com, was really good. It took around six hours on the first day to set up all my appointments throughout the next 12 months, and then the next day was spent double checking everything along with first hand training from Bob and Jordy.”
“The net result was that I came away fully geared up and ready to hit the ground running. It’s a very intuitive system, and so far I haven’t found myself halfway through something and having to call and ask what I do next!”
Time to tell everyone
Johnston had a surprise when he checked his diary for the first time. “Once everything was ready, we talked about launching my new ProAgenda.com to all my students, and while I was setting that up I saw that four of my regulars had already booked lessons online! That really impressed me, as they’d proven to me that it’s a very customer-friendly piece of software design.
ProAgenda.com’s feature-rich, so which of the new features is he starting to use the most? “I also like using the video (of their swings) upload feature,” he says, “making, sending and sharing my notes with them. That’s incredibly useful, and creates a whole new aspect to the service I provide my students. I feel that much closer to them, and likewise, my regulars feel that much closer to me. I’m effectively on tap whenever they want to send me a message.”
What do the students and customers think of ProAgenda.com?
This is perhaps the one biggest benefit for Johnston, aside of the time saving. “My students love the new ProAgenda.com system.”, he comments. “I’ve already got some 50 to 60 using it on a regular basis to make bookings, and they’re doing it at all sorts of times of the day and night as well. I’ve had a lot of feedback saying how easy it is for them to use, and how much better it is than calling between 8am and 5pm to try to agree a time and date – now they can pick whenever they see I’m available.
Coming soon: online payment
This is a new feature for the UK customers that Johnston’s just learnt about, and he’s very keen to start using it. “To learn that the boys back in Amsterdam are just about to announce that UK users can now pay online for their lessons as well, is fantastic news, and I’ve no doubt that this will make an even bigger impression on all my students. I imagine it will also make my financial administration significantly easier as well, and I should be able to see the projections of each month’s or quarter’s income.
Summary: “Couldn’t be happier!”
How does Johnston sum up his latest business and communications tool? As he puts it: “Overall, getting the ProAgenda.com system has been a great decision, and it’s obvious that it’s impressing my students and customers as much as it has me, because it’s so easy for them to book their lessons at the time that suits both of us.”
“Thanks to ProAgenda.com and the chaps in Amsterdam I can focus my teaching time, check my diary wherever I am, and I’ve now got quite a lot more of my precious time back, time that I can spend with my growing family, and so I couldn’t be happier.”
To see how we implement our system in the website check www.garethjohnstongolf.com