Mark Hesse: All right, we’ll go ahead and get started. Good afternoon, again, Mark Hesse from your ASCA Board. I’m actually really excited about this next talk because if I had known 28 years ago when I got into coaching from the love of swimming that I was going to have to learn how to do all the administrative stuff that I’ve had to do over that time period I’m not sure I would have chosen this as a way to go. It certainly had been the challenge in my career and probably a challenge in many other coaches’ career to get that “dry side” up to the level of our “wet side” expertise.
Our speaker today to talk to us about team administration is Lloyd Larsen. Lloyd has been coaching for 20 years, the last half of which he has been with team Foxjet in Minnesota, very successful coach, very successful program, he’s had over a 109 top 16 swimmers, two time Minnesota Age Group Coach of The Year and recently has been involved with coaching at the Central Zone Select Camp. Lloyd is going to talk to us about “Bulletproofing Your Team Administration.” Lloyd Larsen.
Lloyd Larsen: Thanks Mark, I appreciate that. I met Mark a few years ago in one of my coaching stints in Iowa and I appreciate that very much. I did want to say how much of a learning experience this has been for me. I’m really happy to be here to speak today. You know, I’ve heard a lot of coaches at this clinic talk about how important it is for their athletes to coach other athletes, to coach each other, and they learn more from teaching to one another and no matter how much the coach can say what they want to say at the pool, suddenly when one of their peers says it, it means so much more.
So for me to prepare the presentation for today, I really learned a lot by doing that. I also love my job. I wear three hats, I’m the assistant senior coach, I’m the head Age Group coach and I’m the team administrator for our club, and we’re a 400-member team in Eden Prairie, Minnesota which is a suburb of Minneapolis. We’re not 400 wet [phonetics] [00:02:51] at any one season. We’re usually in the mid-300s in the Fall-Winter Season and below 300s in the Spring-Summer, but if you add up all the athletes for our enrollment for the year, we’re about 400.
In many ways, I’m probably just like you. I would imagine that most of you are club coaches. If you’re not, if you’re at YMCA or what have you, you probably got a similar size to ours plus or minus a hundred, very common club scenario, parent board, renting pool space from the local pools, one with the school district, one with the private facility, the other municipality, very similar probably to your own situations.
We are in the Minnesota LSC. Our LSC is also almost our state’s borders. You know a lot of LSCs are not like ours, is there are a couple of Western Wisconsin teams in our LSC. We are a pretty big LSC; we have nearly 9000 members and we’ve got I believe 62 or 63 clubs at the last count. Like I said I’m really excited to be here and to present this topic. I know most of us in this room including myself would much rather talk about the deck coaching and all the fun stuff that we’ve been hearing from the great coaches all week here at the clinic but this is very important too, this is part of the package that we sell our parents. So today is going to be more about the parents and probably less about the athletes that we have fun with but it’s certainly part of the job.
On our team as I mentioned, I wear three hats. I’m the head age group coach, I’m the assistant senior coach, I assist our head coach with our national kids and our top level athletes and I’m the team administrator. We have two reporting chains: I report to our head coach in all coaching matters and I report directly to the board and our board president in all “dry side” matters. And of course, our head coach and I talk quite a bit about the kind of impact that we can have with our team administration because we have a coach doing it.
The position has evolved really as the club has evolved. It started out as a volunteer in the 90s and then for a while it was a paid non-coach, it was a paid parent actually and then it became a coach myself six years ago. I think that the tenure of a coach at a program will establish some trust and allow for a coach to be more involved in the team’s administration; you know the longer you’re there, the more the coach is the constant and the more the parents come and go and you’re the one that stays, the more willingness your board is going to allow you to have that sort of impact on the club. If you are not the coach and administrator of your team, strive to get involved. It’s not necessary for the coach to team administrate but you have a lot greater footprint on your program if you do.
Now, this program really is about customer service. I think that as you’re talking about your team’s administration, you really have to think of it as a business. I’ve heard three different talks this week about how the team is a business and it is not just a swim thing, it’s not just the deck work. I do think that it can be a fun part of your job just like when you interact with your athletes and that’s very exciting and fun; it’s also exciting and fun to craft the message that goes to your members. If you’re not the team’s administrator as I mentioned, strive to get involved, but you may have someone that’s paid to do certain functions of your team administration.
So before I continue with the coaching administration theme for today I did want to point out that this isn’t going to be a detailed software class. I’m not going to teach you how to work your high tech or your TeamUnify or your club assistant; if you would like some help with the software under it and of the detailed how-tos, feel free to contact me after the program and I’d be happy to sit with you or talk to your vendor about that. Today is going to be more about process and about priorities. We do try to administrate for impact. If you’re a coach and you’re administrating, you are the first face of the sport to that new member. You introduce the sport to your members and you get to craft that message; You get to educate your members on priorities, you get to influence and shape the message, it’s a huge thing. You influence and shape your athletes on the pool deck, I love that too and that’s 90% of my work but that 10%, the club administration part when I’m communicating with our parents, that’s a whole another message shape. Answering their questions, making them happy, happy customers focusing on customer service will make that part of your life a lot less miserable. Well, at the last we’ll have fewer questions and you won’t have those snugly little ankle binding problems always dragging at your heels and instead you can focus on the coaching which is what we all really love.
I like to use the phrase find solutions and not answers. There’s a lot of answers to our problems out there; now we’re going to talk about a lot of different things that we do with our club administration, but if you find the solution, that will give you future answers. You know you refer to the axiom, “Don’t give someone something to eat, teach them how to hunt, teach them how to fish, teach them how to grow food.” If you just make the fix each time you’re going to have to keep fixing it. So if you can find some solutions and some processes and priorities that work for you and work for your members, then you won’t have to keep coming back and doing it.
Our three topics today will be communication and I think we all know how important that is. If you’ve made team administration a priority even for an hour today you’re going to hear the word communication throughout. I think that whether today’s talk affirms your current practices or helps you discover new ones, try to use today’s talk to embrace more fully your team’s administrative functions. I already mentioned, I encourage you to get involved if you’re not the team’s administrator. If you can’t involve at least know what’s going on. Help shape that message.
How many of you have a non-coach, a volunteer, a parent, a secretary, something with your team that it is a separate paid position, how many of you, I would say show hands. It’s about half and about half of you you’re probably doing it yourselves. In most clubs that can afford multiple staff members a lot of times the coach is chief cook and bottle washer. So if you’re here today you’ve made this topic at least a priority for an hour and I think that’s great because it’ll make your coaching much more fulfilling.
All right, your administration as I mentioned before is an extension of your coaching. It does, when you communicate, it does help you establish your culture and set expectations, everything from your website to how you do meet entries, to where the calendars are, what’s the practice schedule, all those things that happened away from the pool that interact with your parents. I think that’s sort of a culture, a feel for your team and more of that happens through your administration than it does with what you talk about on the pool deck with your athletes.
Our final topic will be your website. It does need to fill multiple roles. Right now, I think everyone would agree that you are selling your program not just by your performance and not of your team but by how you look on the internet. I don’t think I need to stress to this group how important the internet is today. It is today’s market place, it’s today’s communication mode, and if you don’t have a pretty good website you might be behind the curtain for membership, especially new members. Existing swimmers, kids have been on your team for a while or someone who is looking to join the team that’s an experienced swimmer moving into the area, they’re not going to be as concerned about the website but that’s only a small percentage of your team. If you’re going to keep growing your website is going to have to be pretty good.
One thing I’m going to tell you today is that we’ve chosen TeamUnify in our team, and I’m not just getting a plug in there because we’re a team, unified team. Find some sort of web software that works for you, whether it’s one of the others I mentioned like High Tech or Club Assistant, you’re on the Active Network, whatever. Make sure that you’re competitive for that. You’ve got to be competitive with your website. Today, I’m going to ask for questions throughout the talk. I’m not going to present the whole topic and then come back to questions at the end. I want to stop and take little breaks for you to ask questions of me and really today I just described my position and what we’re going to talk about so I don’t know if you have a lot of questions about it but would anybody have any questions so far about what I’ve talked about, about the position that I hold and how am I coach and administrator? Okay.
Communication, so our first topic is for a reason and customer service requires your responsiveness. Let me say that again, responsiveness. If you’re not responsive to your members’ questions or you don’t have information available to them, they’re going to get frustrated. My first five or ten years of coaching that was a grave disappointment to me. I wanted it to be all about the cool sets, I was doing a practice, and the fun pools, we were swimming and being outside in the sun, because I was coaching in California and in South Carolina where it’s nice and warm. But I found that responsiveness wasn’t just about the pool. And then there wasn’t nearly the use of the internet as there is today. So your responsiveness will definitely demonstrate your interest with your membership.
A phrase that I like to talk about on responsiveness really encapsulates my feelings about it and I borrowed it from someone else, I didn’t make it up myself. Disagreements with your members can be weathered, but the silence will kill you. You give them an answer that they don’t like but it’s prompt, it’s clear, it’s concise, it makes sense, you can defend your position on something, they can live with that. You stalled them for three days on an email, you’re going to hear about it. And we’ll talk about how much responsiveness and setting boundaries a little bit later on.
In the first two talks I attended, I counted up how many times I heard Coach Busch or Coach McKeever, or Coach Troy, or Coach Todd Schmitz talk about communication. I stop counting at about 50. Communication is our first topic today for a reason and I also believe that using all the technologies available today is very important. We’ll talk about that later with the website and what your availability will mean to your membership. I’ve been at the clinic now for three days like most of you probably have. In those three days because I was giving this talk, I counted up how many emails inquiring about our team and membership joining up these, what’s the practice schedule, where can I find the information in your website, I counted that up in three days. Now granted we live in a western metropolitan area where we’re going to have a pretty good population base of folks who can swim on the swimming team but I counted it up just to see how many. Because I was going to respond while I was here at the clinic, I’m going to sit down at my PC and return mails and I’m going to return phone calls and messages and I had in three days 73 inquiries, 53 by email and 20 by phone.
Now, some of them were from within our coaching staff about “Oh, I got a question from somebody out in the public,” others were emails from our website, some were some that I had gotten on the plane before I came here. There was a variety of sources but there were 73 inquiries. If I wait three or four days what do you think those folks are going to do while I’m waiting? So I spent some time doing classes and I return emails or I refer them maybe to one of our staff members who can answer their questions better if it’s about a specific group or so forth. So your availability does mean your membership.
I mentioned technologies before. I believe that every person has a preference whether it’d be email, using the website, text for cell phone, whatever that communication preference is. If you use all of them you’ll hit everybody. And you should use an automated system so you can send them all. And like we showed hands before about preferences, let’s do that here. How many of you prefer to communicate via email out of those three. Okay, email is convenient, they get to decide when to read it and they get to craft a response. It’s a little bit linear, it’s not interactive but it’s convenient.
How many of you prefer to get your information or ask for it from a website or purchase products from a website? Okay. And then finally, how many of you like to text, like the texters or what have you? Okay, maybe another third. So right there in this group there’s a bunch of different preferences for how you like to communicate. Now, your members and your parents, they’re only going to have a couple of hours each day most of them when they get done with work that they’re going to be able to do cell phone. Or for that matter website if their place of work has restrictions about accessing sites other than work.
Email is super convenient but maybe they don’t like that or they have a work one, and they have a personal one. So I think that if you use them all together, your time together, you’re using an automated system, you’ll hit everybody, you’ll send out a broad spectrum of communication and it will be at their convenience.
Announcements on deck are the weakest way to communicate obviously with your parents because as we all know, we’ve all coached kids both young and old and when you tell Johnny and Susie swim or something, by the time that message gets home to Mr. and Mrs. Jones it’s not the message you intended. When you’re talking about your team’s administration it’s very difficult for announcements on deck to work even with an older teenager, you got to get to the parents to give them that information about that meet entry deadline, about when the practice is going to be cancelled next week, about when section changes at a — you can tell that to the kids until you’re blue in the face, some of it is going to go in here and some of it is going to go out there.
I’ve got schedules under communication because I think that we communicate our schedule for practical reasons. We can’t sit down with all of our members. Even if you’re a team of 40 or 60 or a 100, maybe a club this moderately sized, because it’s not practical. In a lot of cases your parents aren’t there. Your parents aren’t in the room, you can’t sit down with them and show them and tell them, you have to make those schedules readily available to them. The Portable Data file, virus free, easy to link and post, easy to send and receive, easy to print, 8.5 x 11.
Get yourselves some PDF writing software, there’re inexpensive ones out there. You don’t have to buy the artist or web designer’s Pro PDF Maker, get yourself Win2PDF, or one of those inexpensive ones for 30 bucks, and now you can make a PDF file in all of your formats and post them. Your schedules do need to be timely and accurate and easily found, and they do need to be in advance. Most of us in this room know that we’ve got our meet schedule for the Fall-Winter Season, really hashed out in our minds in July. Some permanent decisions made in July. You should post those schedules. Your members are going to ask for them. You can’t complain about your members setting up a vacation during a big travel meet that you want the kids to go to if you haven’t put that schedule up.
Our first travel meet is coming up in November. I think I put that information on our website maybe two weeks ago, in August. So now, they know when it is. The monthly calendar is a big deal on our team. It really encompasses everything that the family needs to know about where to be, when to be there. Some websites have all that information in different places. We prefer to make one cogent document that tells all. Our team’s too big and in too many locations to put all the practice schedules in that little box for each day.
So the practice schedule is elsewhere. But aside from that everything is on our calendars. And there’s a sample right there, I know you can’t see the words but you can see the colors and you can see that it was updated and that’s because you can always change that PDF. I use Excel, I use the text selection for the data and the cells or whatever I put in there; it doesn’t get changed or make those hieroglyphic number sometimes when you type it in there and you haven’t put the right selection there. I use Excel and make a calendar. If I have to have an update, I had one in June, I updated it, I reposted it, I sent out that three-level announcement I mentioned before, “Hey, we had a change. I had to make a change in the June calendar.” Then they can go yank it off the site themselves, put it on their fridge.
I don’t think we need to talk about how important it is to have an easily accessible practice meet schedule. I think everybody in this room knows how to do that. If you don’t put out that information early and often your folks are going to show up at the wrong pool, the door is going to be closed and they’re going to get mad.
I do want to mention website linking before we moved on. You know on everybody’s website you’ve got your meet schedule, your practice schedule, maybe that calendar is like what I got in Foxjets, but a lot of pages don’t link. You should link each page to all the others. If you go to our website you’ll see that on the meet schedule page is a link to the practice schedule page and a link to the calendars. If you go to the calendar’s page, there’s a link to the practice schedule and the meet schedule. It’s a redundancy that creates landing places for your members so they can find something else because each of those spots may trip a question about another spot.
My kids are in soccer, basketball, the scouts. My girls are in a lot of different activities. The common theme for all the activities when I’m looking at it for my personal children is how easy is it to get from one landing place to the next. Our web designer that we hired two years ago when we got this website told us that if they can’t find what they want within a certain number of seconds, they will get bored or they will leave your website and go do something else. I don’t remember the exact number of seconds but it was under five. It’s that quick. So if you’ve got linking on your website that will put all the schedules to each other so that you can control where the landing places are, these schedules are great and you could repost a new one whenever you need to.
Any questions about schedules, or communications or its importance? Yeah, Dave?
Dave: You’ve mentioned you just — do you utilize the Facebook feature on there and most of the stuff and why?
Lloyd Larsen: I’ll answer you in two ways. First one is, we don’t use Facebook for schedules because I have a 13-year-old who’s created a — not my 13-year-old, one of our kids who want to create us a page and so right now we’re not publishing it there. But we do intend to do that but I’m going to talk about social media here in a little bit at the end when I get to the website section of my talk but I can tell you that’s a great question, because some teams are now integrating the social media into what’s available on their sites as well. I just haven’t spent enough time with this seventh grader yet so he could show me how to do it on Facebook. But definitely social media is a part of today’s reality and we will talk about that.
Any other questions about communication or schedules or PDFs? Okay.
One of the other topics of course today is the actual nuts and bolts, the administering of your program. It’s got to support your programs mission. You got to have that administration in my judgment be coach directed. I mentioned before if that’s not your situation, if you’re not the coach and administrator, strive to get involved, influence it in whatever way you can. I won’t ask for a show of hands on this one, but how many of you think you yourself have ever been in the situation where your team’s administration’s sort of bit you in the butt. Something was going on and I had a message I wanted to get to the team and I thought I’ve gotten that message out there correctly. This is probably 2005 when I was actually the person doing it, and the team got a different message. It’s very hard to overcome that. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Do you coach? The team administrator said this “Oh, that’s not what I heard. If you control that message or in the absence of control, you influence it, you supervise it, then it can support your program’s mission.”
The branding that I mentioned about the message that you get to give your members, the branding isn’t your team colors and your shirts and your caps. Talking about your culture, setting expectations, how that program is administered infiltrates out to everything you do, talking about stuff like meet entries, not accepting late meet entries, being able to do your relays knowing you’re not going to get an email the next day at 2 o’clock in the afternoon saying — “…but John wants to go to the meet”, okay.
So I think that setting up that branding and shaping that message will reflect the program and priorities because the coach is influencing them. A team administrator can’t feel that. A team administrator doesn’t have a hand and glove knowledge on what your athletic part is because they’re not the coach. So if you can’t be that person of your team, you need to influence it.
All four of the national team coaches that I listened to in the first two talks, every single one of them mentioned business directly or alluded to your team being a business, everyone of them. Now, some of you are university coaches or YMCAs or you have an entire support staff who handles that but most of us aren’t. Most of us are the chief cook and bottle washer that I mentioned before and you are running a business. This job is fun, we’re not working in banks, we’re not selling real estate and we’re no working for 3M or IBM but it is a business at the end of the day.
Team registrations, where do you get your money? It needs to be online, it needs to be fast, it needs to be easy, you’re competing with soccer, basketball, the scouts, gymnastics, they all do online registration, you have to do that. It doesn’t have to be TeamUnify like us, if you’re using Dreamweaver and laying out HTML pages to create a website you can have a password protected page that’s registration. They’ve got to be doing it online. Again, no show of hands necessary, but if you’re not doing online registration I bet it has taken you a lot longer. Not just for you to process but for your members to get in those forms. So I think you should accept new members with online registration and you certainly have it started.
I think you should make all your fields required and I think all the documents should have all the information that you want your members to have. For us, it’s the code of conduct. It is pricing information. It is their responsibility to have their credit card in their account. We’ll talk about payments here in a minute. Everything that you want to be able to hold onto later put it in there and make it required. Your chairperson from your team will really appreciate it if they have to say what size Johnny’s shirt is and warm-up jacket and all of that, because they’re going in to have ask them for stuff. Make those fields required. That way their five minutes they spent doing their online registration will give you five months of happiness, so you don’t have to go back and ask them again. Finding a solution I guess, not an answer.
Those PDFs that I alluded to earlier before, you can save them. You don’t have to save the PDF itself because you’re going to update that all the time but you save the template that you made it from and you don’t have to keep redoing it. Then you just put in new dates, new numbers or prices you’ve changed or what have you, or if your indemnification, permission to participate, your legal documentation needs to change, great, you make the change and then repost a new PDF. Save your page so that you can reuse it next year. For a while I was redoing my registration portals but I decided this year I want to know how long it took to get everybody signed up, so now I’m keeping them. Regardless of what sort of website software you use, you can keep those other pages and hide them later when you’re done.
With TeamUnify, you can’t keep the historical roster from season to season, I don’t think you can, and HyTek either, we were a HyTek team for a while. I can’t answer for Club Assistant but do print a hard copy somewhere of your season roster before you leave each season, that way you know for sure who is on the team.
I don’t think I have to tell you the importance of USA Swimming Registration. Now, team registration is produced and for your money. USA Swimming Registration is not optional or membership in Master Swimming, the YMCA, what have you. Don’t play fast and loose with that. When a kid gets hurt and they’re not insured then you’re in trouble. Strictly follow your LSCs rules. In the Minnesota LSC, you have two weeks, while the swimmers swim, where they’re insured, temporarily by our USA Swimming insurance carrier. At two weeks you have to send in your first batch of registrants, so in our team, two weeks is your free trial with it.
The overall coverage in case you didn’t know is 30 days, and this is the last time I read it a couple of months ago. Our insurance carrier will cover an athlete for 30 days of participation if something happens, but most LSCs aren’t going to say 29 days and then LSC registration shared its one day to turn it around. They’re going to want some business days to do that. So find out what those are and keep up with it. I numbered my batches for registration, 2012-001, 2012-002, created a desktop folder, keep them in there because you’d done it by year, you’re not going to have the duplicate files so that when you send it to your LSC registration chair they say “Well, it’s the same as last year.” So number them by year. As I mentioned before today, I’m not going to get in to the nits and grits about how to do a registration from your website or form your high tech or whatever, that’s a software how to do and that’s a detailed thing that we’re not covering today but I’d be happy to sit down with anyone of you after the class and will go through that.
The key here being you need to follow those rules and batch your number so you know when you sign them. I do compare monthly my roster with the LSCs roster, maybe that’s because of our team size, I don’t know. But I know that when I put those two rosters down, that ten minutes that it takes for me to take my pen and check them off on each side and look with my bifocals and check it out, that keeps me sleeping at night. That’s my reassurance that every kid’s is insured and I do it at the beginning of the season even more than once a month so that I know they’re all registered.
Now, your online registration fee in Minnesota, it’s an $8.00 upcharge, USA swimming fee this year is $48.00 for an annual member. Minnesota charges an extra 8 bucks, $56.00 in Minnesota to be an annual member. That’s our online registration fee. No walk offs. Some of you may want to wrap dues into that fee. We don’t wrap dues in, we just put in the LSC’s athlete membership fee and that’s it. That way no money outs will happen before they may be dissatisfied. So that four or five weeks it’s not for them, you start to hear that, we’re not going to charge any dues or we’ll give you a little bit of a break, but we’ve already got your USA swimming money because those are non-refundable. Does anybody here coach in an LSC where once you turn in your registration batch that’s refundable money. I don’t think any LSC does that. Okay, they take the money and run, okay.
I want to touch on billing a little bit and the top word there “efficiency” just like your online registration. Make it fast, make it online, establish and enforce your deadlines. If you set that precedent in that culture, you communicate what they owe in a timely fashion and they pay it. Those who are late, you’re going to have to make a program decision about membership revocation or a late fee. On our team we don’t do a late fee. We have a little three-tiered — three strikes kind of situation when someone doesn’t pay or hasn’t put a credit card on their account and we go through those series first and that will include an emailed invoice. But not at first, we use the automated system, not only is it going to save you 45 cents or whatever we’re up to right now with the post office or has the post office filed Chapter 11, are they still operating or whatever the case, don’t send envelopes, those days are gone. Send them via email or notify them that their invoice is on your website or where to go get it and then have them go do it, past that [indiscernible] [00:31:54]. If you get into the late revocation situation then you ask, we’re going to send out certified mail, you owe us $500.00; you got to get that done but don’t start that way.
For processing payments, we accept credit cards because quite honestly if we try to process checks with the team of our size it would be unbelievable. When we went to credit cards, we were actually before TeamUnify. There are lots of merchant vendors out there and those banks that you can set up software with and you can purchase to go online and charge credit cards either with a swiper or manually. And if you’re like TeamUnify is, you can actually have the accounts have it either way; go with credit cards. At first we were hesitant because there is an upcharge ranges anywhere between 2.7% to 3% for a transaction. The first year we did it our team and board of directors just made a conscous choice we’re going to raise everybody’s fees 2.8% or whatever and then henceforth we will have that cost built in. I know it’s an increased cost and if you charge $500.00 or $600.00 and you’re talking about $20.00, $25.00, $30.00, whatever it is, a lot of money. But once that’s built in and it becomes a culture or norm, you will like how your accounts receivable goes down to 1% or less. We used to have an accounts receivable typical of yours and after a year probably your membership owed between 5% and 10% of the dues that you need to collect; people owed money at the end. Now, we’re less than 1%, and that’s with 400 people. That’s not because I’m a genius, it’s because the website takes care of it.
Use a PO Box in stating your home addresses, I don’t think I need to talk about privacy or boundaries with this group. You’re all coaches who coach someone else’s kids. You know that you don’t want them to have your street address. You’ve got to have a little bit of privacy. I think if your payment policy is a part of your registration documentation as I alluded to before and they check off those documents and print them, they just know that hey, we’ve got to pay.
Any questions about registration or billing and payment? Yes ma’am.
Female speaker 1: Did you accept checks at all?
Lloyd Larsen: We do accept checks.
Female speaker 1: Okay.
Lloyd Larsen: But what we require is that they do have a credit card on their account if they forget to write a check. Some folks would rather do that. For whatever reason they don’t want to use a credit card, well then we send out a notification about ten days before the end of the month and we say “Please go look at your invoice, this is going to be charged to your credit card.” And then I make sure that I go to that PO Box several days in a row right up until that first of the month and clear those and credit that manually.
Like I said we have a team of 400 annually, 300s “wet” per season, I get maybe three checks each month to deposit. They love their credit cards. Yes?
Female speaker 2: So you then [indiscernible] [00:34:36] for your team through that credit cards on the box, right?
Lloyd Larsen: Yes, on file.
Female speaker 2: And then they can choose like can I help you know those who are online that they are paying in credit card and those are just, one maybe like check or [indiscernible] [00:34:52].
Lloyd Larsen: Well we don’t keep a list of the once, but our website does show a little flag of which credit card is on their account. When you go through our team’s roster it will show a little V as a sign, or a little MasterCard or Discover, so we’ll know that they’ve got a credit card on file. But if they don’t go look at their amount, ten days out or five days out before the first of the month then they know their credit card is going to get it because we’ve already said “Okay, in our registration documentation that we’re going to charge your credit card on file unless you write us a check before the first of the month.”
Female speaker 2: So how do you know who’s been noticed to if they will purchase by check?
Lloyd Larsen: We send notice to the whole team that the invoice is coming up on the first and then those who wish to pay by check it’s on them to look and get their amount and make their decision. That’s a good question though. It really culturally passes the baton, it does but communication is something I mentioned, first topic today. And I don’t communicate that there’s a bill out there then they really can blame me if I charge their credit card and they didn’t know that was coming. Yup, I’m sorry.
Female speaker 3: I know there we’re also in TeamUnify a certain amount, I think it’s from you know putting invoice in the [indiscernible] [00:36:08] of the client and also on the first, and then the credit card box have to be [indiscernible] [00:36:13] with that amount first.
Lloyd Larsen: That’s correct.
Female speaker 3: And so, I don’t think that if they’re not [indiscernible] [00:36:19] to come first, so how can they look at their account [indiscernible] [00:36;26] that bills to the person?
Lloyd Larsen: Because the notification we send them, and on every invoice you have an option of putting in some verbiage that’s a disclaimer or that’s additional instruction, I believe it’s called “notes on invoices.” On those we say, if there are any charges that are incurred before the end of the month, those will show up on your credit card. So they know in that box right at the top of the invoice each month I better check in the days leading up to it. And the other thing I do internally to avoid getting it so close is that I charge a meet entry fee one day before the month and they get a chance to pay by check if they wish. I make sure that I don’t load that file until after the first of the month passes. Usually three or four business days out I stop.
Female speaker 3: So then you all go over that.
Lloyd Larsen: Sure.
Female speaker 3: So we had people that you know the [indiscernible] [00:37:17] whatever online and put those money that show, bill it to their account at first. But first by taking up the credit card spending, so you [indiscernible] [00:37:32] with no name, right, just chose on some of those months that he was on your list, anything else that you put on manually?
Lloyd Larsen: The question is how can they see what they owe in advance of the day and when you sign in as a member you can go to “my account” and go look at that. You can see what’s coming up.
Females speaker 3: Okay.
Lloyd Larsen: But if something occurs in the last few days before the first of the month and you haven’t gone to look, even if you’ve written a check for $500.00 if a little $10.00 charge happens then it is going to come out of your credit card. To avoid complaints about that, I sort of hold off at the end. I make sure the last three or four days if I have some pending charges especially in meet entries, the dues schedule they already know. They know they are going to get billed for their dues. We don’t do that monthly in our team, we do that twice a month or twice the season. So twice the season they know what month that’s going to happen. But for the smaller charges like you’re talking about and how much is it going to be to capture that, I make sure they’re not doing it at the end. But they do need to look and they do need to go online and go to my account.
Dave: How to handle the team or client or meet entries, groups, and then we’re deciding on emails by now and we’re only doing that once a month and I’m looking at our January meet special, we also have the weekend, we’re going to have all that money out, or the money actually gets in [indiscernible] [00:38:57] that I mean, you’re budgeting all that money basically?
Lloyd Larsen: Yup, unless —
Dave: What’s the answer to that?
Lloyd Larsen: Dave’s question is a very good one. Well, what if your finances are such that we’re billing monthly or you know, we don’t have $2000.00 to put on an event, we need to have that cash ready for cash out. You could still go to some sort of an escrow system, some sort of requirement. It requires everybody to put a check in first because that will go to your account and you can manually credit that. We don’t. We have enough of an upcharge which I think on our team is $4.00. I have to go look on our website but you know that ends up giving us a little caution. And so once the credit card charging process begins enough money will continue to roll that unless you bring down your bank account too far, you should have enough. If you feel like escrowing is important, then you can do that. You can take checks, ask everybody to write a $100.00 check at the beginning of the season as an escrow, whatever you think is appropriate. Yup, Tim?
Tim: [indiscernible] [00:39:56] with the last team you do like to approve registration once an event is coming up, let’s say this fall, so I look at the TV what they’re doing and start definitely this year. You know in the business we need to [indiscernible] [00:40:13] and people return into their place, summer league influence.
Lloyd Larsen: Sure, we don’t have a big summer league influence in our area, so we don’t’ have to capture those kinds of numbers so soon. We open up about a month, about a month out. I opened up the registration portal, I change it from our current season to the next one and if somebody wants to join us in the last two or three weeks I handle that individually, so about a month.
Tim: Well, [indiscernible] [00:40:35]
Lloyd Larsen: I’m sorry.
Tim: I’m just curious about the team’s salary [phonetics] [00:40:38] and with those 30%, we don’t know what we can take that we could keep into problems like [indiscernible] [00:40:46]
Lloyd Larsen: Sure, TeamUnify will only allow one membership portal open at a time. you can have other event registrations but not membership portals. So you’ll have to make a philosophical decision about how soon you need to beat the power curve there.
Greg: All right, so that [indiscernible] [00:41:04] to the credit card, I have a couple of [indiscernible] [00:41:08]
Lloyd Larsen: We’ve been using credit card for five years and we’ve been using TeamUnify for two of the five. So three years before we went to TeamUnify we had some software just like a swiper you’d find in a grocery store and we did it that way.
Greg: All right, so the next question is like, I could not really accept payment on the credit card because [indiscernible] [00:41:28] is the case right now with that. So I am a person with a — billing an invoice and then now if they don’t pay I ended up in an offline [phonetics] [00:41:36] via phone call and all that kind of stuff. How did you recommend that I was still a [indiscernible] [00:41:44] I’m a coach and I will have to say that [indiscernible] [00:41:47] paid money type of thing. I guess that’s the question this time that it’s very hard to get to.
Lloyd Larsen: No, click — well it is a curve boy, it’s a tough one because you don’t want to be the one that delivers the hard news. On our team, the way we do it is if the group coaches notified by me that Mr. and Mrs. Smith haven’t paid their dues or haven’t put a credit card on, I ask that coach to refer that parent to me and then I discuss it with them. But I don’t let the athlete get involved regardless of age. So the assistant coach has to be the bearer of bad news when mom or dad come.
Greg: What if this kid is one you’re coaching that day?
Lloyd Larsen: Then I do it.
Lloyd Larsen: Yup.
Greg: There is no such thing that’s [indiscernible] [00:42:32]
Lloyd Larsen: That’s right. That’s exactly right. When we’re talking about billing, when I’m talking to the parent, when I’m emailing with them, I’ve turned my coach out around.
I’m sorry go ahead.
Female speaker 4: Is it on the [indiscernible] [00:42:46] and then you have your report or your own comment. How can you go in [indiscernible] [00:42:51] getting thing, depending on the people there, or you can depend on –?
Lloyd Larsen: I can tell you that the coach being the bearer of the bad news was not as big a transition as we thought it was going to be. We were afraid of that. That Greg very did consign. It ended up being not that big of a deal because they realize you’re wearing a different hat.
Male speaker 1: That hasn’t come to this process of [indiscernible] [00:43:16]
Lloyd Larsen: No, they understand. Yes sir?
Male speaker 2: And we’re going to some — or to use the integrated [indiscernible] [00:43:25], what kinds of stuff are you using in this process?
Lloyd Larsen: Our team uses quick books and that’s because our accountant and our auditing process requires that, there’s a download quick for books from TeamUnify. It is not real detailed as to my understanding. I don’t handle that, our treasurer actually does. We are apparent for the team so I do handle the mechanical billing but I don’t handle that part of it. My piece of it is that I do know its quick book’s file and it can be loaded to quick books.
Any other questions?
The meet entries, honestly for us is all about the meet entry flyer. It’s an 8.5 x 11 PDF. As I’ve mentioned it before. I check the whole information daily in order to make sure that I get that information out to the families, weeks or months in advance. It’s a condensed need to know. It’s not only to the LSCs website or the Wholesale Club website, it’s a one pager. That way the coach can craft the message. If you put everything out there for a meet, all 12 pages of the meet letter or the meet section whatever they call it in your LSC, they’re not going to read all of that. And they don’t need to know that the backstroke flags have to be 7 feet over the water. They need to know what time the meet is, where it is, how much does it cost, and when do I going to get my entry. And that also crafts your message about which days we’re going to swim, which session.
Website is public. They can go and look at it if they want to see what events are on Sunday. But if your team is not going on Sunday only the most experienced athletes who can’t make it Saturday and their parents, they’re going to go around you and they’re going to go and check out the LSC website. But they’re going to know, when they do that, the team is not going on Sunday, that’s an example.
So by creating your own PDF you can tell him what day you’re going, we’re going all three days. There is list of events down there. I don’t know if you can see it but it’s a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, on the left hand column. Just what they need to know, who is hosting it, where is it, what time is the meet, how much money, who do you recommend to go, that’s enough.
Some of you might be saying as “Some of my friends in our LSC do, because they asked me what about this meet flyer, or why do you do those?” I just make a link to the host club info, I’m not going to retype that.
Use templates. Use templates for repeatability. You’ll find most meets are identical from year to year. They rarely move pools and they rarely change sessions. In our LSC, weekends have an order of events that are established by our Age Group chair or the Technical chair and they don’t change. Some do, some invitationals do but the championship meets don’t, or they change so infrequently that all you have to do is change what’s on it.
Female speaker 5: Do you have a multiple [indiscernible] [00:46:05] at LSC, in that regard meets are entered online [indiscernible] [00:46:10] email, the check to those team, there are meets we attend that our team — part of the team checked. And so was it an [indiscernible] [00:46:23] if you do not hit any of those entered paid checks that comes as you all know to the numbers a week, and so I guess some people are like this they’re still good, this is like their meet change, their [indiscernible] [00:46:33] or whatever, if given a chance and all of the [indiscernible] [00:46:37] where it said back to applying, whatever.
Lloyd Larsen: Right.
Female speaker 5: So does that mean that you go and collect?
Lloyd Larsen: Sure. Your instructions would be how to make that connection. I’m sure it’s online, am I right about that?
Female speaker 5: Yeah. What sort of — what would you do to [indiscernible] [00:46:53] to some connections with who you are.
Lloyd Larsen: Sure, and so you just put that information on there. You wouldn’t have an entry deadline to you like I’ve got to me, you just have the link to wherever they’re supposed to go to make that entry and then you can craft your message about what events and which days and send the message that you wish.
Female speaker 5: That would be nice if we know that that was the one that would mean — it would be nice to have — to do like that. That’s good to know.
Lloyd Larsen: I try to keep it one page but usually I can’t because the order of events is too long but certainly being able to have this one stop shop at this meet flyers on every “fridge” you need inquiry, because it tells them just what they need to know and nothing more.
I will touch on a little bit about building the meet file and that is I don’t take the events TM download knowingly. I know we’ve all experienced when you take the download in whether it’s to your TeamUnify or to your team manager you get a note from the meet host two weeks later, “Ops, there was a mistake in the download.” If you take the new download what happens to your entries, they’re gone. So what I do is I look at the meet information when it comes out, and make sure that it’s the hard copy of that section and then I just go to my meet manager and I create the events; you’d be surprised how fast you can do it once you learn how, 10 or 15 minutes even for a meet with a 150 events. Now you know there’s no mistake, you load it in to your team manager or your TeamUnify or your club assistant, whatever you’re using and then you can double check it. Now you know it’s right, so when you keep seeing those notices from the meet host or the LSC that “Oh, it changed the TM events download.” You can almost hear the groans in your LSC when that happens because now you can’t redo it, you got to make that decision if you’re going to “Oh, am I going to accept the download and redo all my entries or am I just going to change that one event number? What am I going to do?” You don’t have to do that if you’ve loaded it correctly the first time.
We host several major meets each year and our entry chair does it, but he makes mistakes. I think if you’re from the Minnesota LSC who can tell me how many TM events downloads came for Summer State this year? Anybody know, was it two? Two or three? And that’s my club. It happens. Confirm the entry with the host after you build it. Now you got to do your meet entries everyday just like doing your homework. Don’t wait to write your term paper until the last night. If you’re from a big team and then you’re like me, you’ve made that mistake somewhere along the line and you’ve got 50, 60 entries pending and you wait until the night before you need to send them, it’s going to be a nightmare; avoid the avalanche. And if you don’t accept late entries because you’re communicating that info enough, you know we send out repeated notices to the members, and it’s coming out, you’d just enter in, then you’re okay. After you send it in I always close the loop, I always ask for a confirmation within 24 hours from the meet host.
I ask for a team entry list from meet manager from the host, if it’s a big meet, not if we’re going to, and everybody you know an ABC Open meet or whatever you call it in your LSC where the whole team can go and I’ve got a 140 kids going, okay, no. I’m not going to look at 712 entries, but for our LSC championships okay, for things like that then, yup, I want an entry list and I’ll go through it, it takes ten minutes to check off those entries and then off you go.
I think we all know you’ve got to do your homework for travel meets, no show of hands necessary but if you’ve been locked out of an away travel meet that some of your members were counting on, you know how big a deal that is. If you can establish a relationship with your travel meet hosts that’s going to go a long way for you to stay out of travel. Get to know them, call them, email them, when you do finally go to a travel meet at a location that you like and you want to keep going back to that one. Get to know the people there, get their cell phone number, get their email address, so you could start inquiring the season before that “Oh, yeah, we want to go to the Island Meet in July, who do I need to know to get that information from them as soon as possible?” How do I make sure, you know John Wessels, that I can get in to that meet? Once you establish that it gets a lot easier. If you’ve ever been locked out of a travel meet, you know what I’m talking about.
On the website, I don’t like the word built. We built our website to get it started but it’s perpetually unfinished. I think the word built implies finished and your website as I mentioned before needs to serve a lot of functions, that’s your public face. It’s your way to market and it’s also internal team management. If you’ve ever been to the Best Buy website you’ll know that you can buy a TV on the Best Buy website but there’s also an employee log-in. So that site will take you to a different site where the employees communicate or where the employees you know find out about their pay check or what have you. So I think that most of us don’t have websites like that. Most of ours don’t take you to a new site, you just get more access if you are a member.
So, internal team management and public marketing are the two purposes. It is a continuous process. It is perpetually unfinished but once a month I go through the website and I check every page. I make sure that every link is up to date. I don’t think I need to state the value of the website. You all know what it is in today’s market.
All the internal management functions we’ve already talked about today, I want to highlight one, “password protected pages.” Regardless of what type of software you use, you need to have password-protected pages. Prices, proprietary information, best times, meet entries, your relays, you’ve got to have places to post that publicly that are not open to the entire public that’s open to your members.
Password protected pages are a big part of how we operate our team and I’m sure for you as well. Certainly, updates are important in keeping those buttons and gizmos and links working, that’s why I check it once a month, but I do try to keep as many pages public as possible so we can start that learning curve. You know when people are researching clubs they’re going to go through about half your site. They’re not even members yet. So if I have too much of it protected, they can’t see enough. I know a lot of you have scouted your opponents by going to websites and how many of you have found that some really disclose a lot about their teams and others don’t disclose much. You’ve probably seen those differences. We try to disclose as much as we can.
And that’s our registration portal; you’ll see it gives the vitals in there. When does practice start. This is from last season. I prepare this before I set up this current season’s so you don’t have my Fall-Winter, but that’s on our site now. When does practice start, who to contact, and when our open house is if you’re new and when we had to put you in a group. We use a little slip of paper to tell them which group they’re in, so they don’t go and sign up to the wrong group when they come to our open house. Some of you have splash night, tryouts, whatever you call it.
The public marketing part of it is layout and really is your branding in your team colors and your caps that I talked about before that’s not your coach branding; get a web designer for that. If you don’t have the money for a web designer, find an assistant coach who’s a lot younger than I am. I went to college in the 80s or early 80s with a typewriter. Find an assistant coach who’s got web experience that can put a professional polish on it and can set up the neat gizmos and wizmos that will make the website go. I don’t do that even though I am the team’s administrator and I am the super user for our site. We hired somebody to know the layout and the colors and how to set it up.
Just like we talk about, the administration being coach-directed in supporting the mission, make sure the operational swimming calls are handled by you. Don’t allow your volunteers to make a decision about what they’re going to put on the page that says how many practices to go to. That’s your call.
We do have different levels of access. We have to share that because of the size of our team. But even though I am, in some respect, the chief cook and bottle washer, you do want your assistant coaches, your volunteer coordinators, people who send out announcements, your board members who might have that role, you do need to have them have more access than a general member. TeamUnify allows us to do that, I think there are about six, I’m not sure. Whatever style of website you have and whatever your provider is, all of them will have different levels of access that can be created.
We talked about Facebook and Twitter, et cetera, before. We currently will use our OnDeck software that many of you are familiar with if you’re TeamUnify users and we’ll put our results on our little Facebook pages. There’s a way to know that and put that on there. I’m just getting to do that right now and like I mentioned before, my 13-year-old, William, is going to be my administrator for our Team Foxjet’s site on Facebook, but once you’re set into that you’re going to touch more people there as well.
That’s the front page of our site. I picked the three cute little kids right there in our last scene. Do you have any questions? Yes sir.
Male speaker 3: Have you figured out a way for using Twitter as far as mass education and quick information change.
Lloyd Larsen: I have not. I know there’s a way to have Twitter point to your site. Am I right about that?
Female speaker 6: We have leads outlining most of the time for [indiscernible] [00:56:29] to meet your account, you know for some pages. It cuts if it’s cancelled through that. This is going to be in the agreement. Parents who had teenagers will put that up in their email and will also go through it and they have to sign up with events that got sent to us.
Lloyd Larsen: Great.
Female speaker 6: Yeah, Twitter that and just no argument like [indiscernible] [00:56:49]
Lloyd Larsen: Sure, that’s great. We haven’t done that yet, so use your product. [laughter]
Female speaker 6: I haven’t done it, somebody else did.
Lloyd Larsen: Sure. Yes ma’am, do you have anything?
Female speaker 7: I just recently like to continue on my [indiscernible] [00:57:03] like we do at Stars and then we know and that become a very good point [indiscernible] [00:57:13] at the time to take the message out, so it’s just that it’s really [indiscernible] [00:57:21] to be there.
Lloyd Larsen: And we make that part of our online registration documentation. They sign a little thing that gives us permission to ask for that. Now, if they don’t do it then that’s on them, if they don’t verify their account when they sign in but because it’s available, and in today’s culture we’ve all had the internet now long enough in cell phones, they’re going to want that.
Any other questions?
Well, if you have any follow-on questions, if you want to ask me afterwards about some software specific stuff, that’s great. I really had fun today, I like this part of my job and I hope all of you do as well. Enjoy your — [AUDIO ABRUPTLY ENDS.]