2016 is over, and what a year it’s been! In total, we registered 5,155,094 applicants in 2016. That is amazing! With all those applicants and over the course of 12 months, I’ve learned 5 MORE things about registration. If you want to see what else I’ve learned in past years, have a look here and here.
#1: No one cares about registration – until it breaks!
Makes sense, right? We always take for granted things we have, until they don’t work and you realize how important they truly are. Admin tasks, especially registration, sometimes take a back seat to the truly important work of the content and quality of your event, camp, course or basically your offerings. I wrote a post about how I start every team meeting by saying “nobody care’s about you!”. Go on, read it, I’ll wait…
That attitude totally transformed our sales and support strategy at Regpack. The idea is that since registration is something that no one really wants to do, it needs to be perfect. It is somewhat of a paradox to say that something no one cares about needs to be perfect, but this is something we have learned when registering a little more than 5 million people in 2016.
Registration needs to be seamless, easy, and flawless. It needs to be an experience you forget about right after you do it. It needs to flow as if it was built just for the applicant that is doing it. There cannot be any mistakes, any words that are incorrect, any questions that are out of place or any forms they do not really need to fill out.
Just a small example:
Regpack can be used for camps, events, schools, races and a lot more. But the person that is registering to a camp cannot see the word “attendee” anywhere in the process (they need to see the words camper, parent, etc). Why? Since they will get confused right away and think: “What a minute… I am registering to a camp, maybe this is the wrong place. I will stop and call them”. Fail! The system that was suppose to lower support cases, bring in more campers and save you time and money just did the opposite. This is what I mean by there can’t be any mistakes. One thing that stops a user from continuing on in the process, means more work for you and time lost.
I have talked to thousands of new clients this year that moved to Regpack. I always ask them one question “why were you even looking for a registration solution?” It’s helpful to know the mindset of our clients when they are coming in and frankly I also want to know this for marketing purposes (yes, we are a business too and we need to market). But on a practical level, understanding what our clients are looking for, helps me to continue to build our product to give clients and potential clients, what they need.
I got a lot of answers ranging from “paper was just not cutting it anymore” to “our users hated the previous registration system” and also “we need to up our game, competition is getting hard”. It all comes down to one thing: no one cares about registration, unless is it not working. Then it is something you really really care about and want to get right.
#2: Every organization and every applicant / camper / student / registrant is different!
We worked with a lot of different organizations in 2016. From the Superbowl 50 team to small local camps or conferences across the world. The needs of the Superbowl versus a small conference of 150 people vary greatly. Keeping the idea in mind that not every conference is alike, not every camp is alike, and not every event is alike, is key to ensuring the work we do at Regpack works for everyone and anyone.
This principle holds true for every business as well. No two clients are the same and the work you create and do needs to make sense for the variety of people you serve. Many of the updates we’ve made to Regpack in 2016 (582 to be exact) all have had the goal of making registration for any user type easier, faster, and more intuitive.
#3: Your support is only as good as your system.
We really stepped it up this year with our support. We banked over 70 amazing reviews on Capterra from our clients, which we are very proud of! It goes without saying that treating your clients well is a must. If you have a great product and horrible training, or have a hard time getting in touch with your account manager, who cares how awesome your product is?
We approach support in 3 unique ways:
- We make it work.
- We listen.
- We solve the problem. Period.
With these 3 ideas in mind, every interaction with clients, and all the work we do to upgrade our system, goes through these 3 points. How can we solve our clients problems and pain points? What features are most valuable? How can we improve the way in which our clients use our system? We are constantly asking these questions, working harder and getting better!
#4: If we are not saving every client money, we are doing something wrong.
Price, cost… just two words for the same thing, right? Wrong! What I mean by price is what you actually pay for something. And cost is the combination of what you pay + the time you save / waste + the business you gain / loss + a lot lot more.
The basic idea though, is understanding that price and cost are not the same. The fancy term is ROI or “Return On Investment”. Today the term makes little sense since the introduction of SaaS (Software as a Service) has a very little initial investment. Because of this, the return is immediate therefore considering ROI when looking at SaaS doesn’t come into play.
That being said, when evaluating a registration software, the first thing I’ve learned you need to ask is, “how much is this software going to net me?” A registration software that won’t save you money isn’t worth your time. Our clients see anywhere between $17,000 – $145,000 in savings every year once they begin using a quality registration software like Regpack. My point here is, registration software is a TOOL for a business, and you should PAY for a tool because it will actually make you more productive, and therefore make the bottom line better.
#5: Payments HAVE TO be totally seamless and transparent.
I always think of a business, any business, be it a camp, an event, a school, or a church, as a functional entity, a machine in a way. The business is a machine that can have different objectives and end results. But the idea is that it is built from a lot of moving parts. The employees, the finance of the organization, the marketing, the administration etc. And like any machine, we have the fancy stuff in it. Let’s use a car for this metaphor. Fancy stuff would be like the keyless ignition or heated seats. And we have the less fancy stuff, like the wheels and the gas tank. The fancy stuff sort of doesn’t matter if the basics are not working (let’s see how far you are going to get with a keyless ignition when you have a flat tire or an empty tank).
Registration and payments are the basics of any business. It is what brings in the clients to the organization and what allows the cash to flow in. If you have to collect payments for your event or program, and you don’t offer easy to use payment features – like autobilling, scheduled payments, email invoicing and more, getting paid is harder. One of our most popular upgrades in 2016 was our plethora of autobilling features. Autobilling makes billing clients, and giving payment options, easier and more straightforward. Getting paid is a challenging aspect of any business. Using tools that make this process easier for everyone, means more money in the bank!
Growing and registering more people every year is great. What is better is learning from it and taking these lessons to heart so you can get better all the time. I hope we are doing that at Regpack and I hope that next year I will learn even more about how to serve our clients in the best possible way.
What I really like about the work at Regpack is that every year the lessons are different. I don’t know why that is… it might be since I like to learn but I think that maybe the better answer is that we are dealing with different situations every year and hence the lessons are different. In 2014 we registered 1,236,743 people, in 2015 we registered 2,945,768 people and in 2016 we registered 5,155,094 people. The differences of registering 1.2 million and 5.1 million are huge. It is not just “more of the same”, it is a whole different view on how you work with organizations, attendees, finance people, administration staff, developers and so many other people that are part of it.
I can’t wait to see what more I’ll learn next year about registration. Our goals for 2017 are to continue with the trend of making registration easy, making payments seamless, and continuing to listen to our clients for what they need. Based on the growth from previous years we are suppose to register close to 10 million people in 2017. I hope the attitude of “We build what is needed and try to get better all the time” will prove itself and will allow us to serve more organizations and more applicants this year!