How to Couchsit Your Kids’ Activity Program

When I first opened my business, I was advised to implement club management systems or class management software into my program. That way tasks would be easy to replicate. Then, I can share the burden of responsibility, instead of running around like a headless chicken doing all the work myself.

The idea sounded ludicrous to me at first. How was it possible to just step away? The folks I hired were perpetually irresponsible. And the few good ones either didn’t have the skills or knowledge. I was the one with access to the bigger picture so wouldn’t staff require my advice in order to accomplish tasks efficiently?

However, nine years passed since I first opened my school. And here I am sitting on my ‘theoretical couch’. My management team and the systems we implemented run the program better than I ever did myself. And I am grateful to step back and learn from others instead of constantly micromanaging.

Do you feel stuck in the grind? And are you ready to stop being the one doing it all? Here are the three steps I used to win my life back. It required time to implement but was well worth the effort.

1. Start with Systems

Figuring out how your business runs and finding ways to automate is annoying and tedious labor. It also involves a lot of trial and error. Unfortunately, though, the advice I kept on getting regarding automation was completely accurate. Finding studio apps or class management software and systems that can help you efficiently run the operation and registration of your business is crucial.

Like it or not, the task of automating is interminable. The way you run things will change and systems deteriorate. Therefore your approach will need constant reviewing and updating. It’s one of those jobs that require both a lot of upfront work and continuous upkeep. However, the reward makes it so worthwhile.

I found that starting with a process map of my program helped me figure out what systems to choose. If you aren’t sure what process mapping is, here’s an article to get you started.

Implementing systems will help you manage your dance studio, sports team, martial art club, gymnastics center, swimming school, or any other class-based program. For example, having a registration system helps you manage kids and classes efficiently. Similarly, good payroll, hiring, and other operational systems free up your time and keep the workflow consistent when there is staff turnover.

2. Hire Slow, Fire Fast

If I could get a dollar for every time I got this advice I wouldn’t need to be in business! But somehow I had to learn it the hard way myself. I kept struggling with wanting to be nice and feeling bad and believing that people can change. People don’t change. And nice got me nowhere.

All my staff appreciated me more when I invited employees that didn’t belong to find better employment elsewhere. I didn’t necessarily fire outright. However, I got better at setting standards and only putting staff on shifts when they demonstrated competency. I found that the right people stepped up and employees that weren’t a good fit moved on of their own accord.

It demanded time and effort to find good staff replacements. I finally got to the place where I realized I was better off having fewer classes running than the wrong people running them. I searched for almost two years to find my current program manager and am so glad I waited for the right person.

3. The Art of Letting Go

It took me a long time to let go of the minutiae. I had so many ideas of how my program should run. I got wrapped up in the specific aspects that I lost sight of the big picture.

At some point, I finally lifted my head out of the sand and realized it was time to let go of the specifics. I had to return to the vision. My ultimate goal was a community-oriented program with happy kids and satisfied parents. The systems and staff were set up to accomplish those goals. I had to trust my staff to take care of the details.

Letting go was the most challenging step for me. But when I finally allowed the systems to run themselves and the staff to do their jobs as they saw fit, my business improved tremendously.

For example, my current administrator is a local mom who has an irregular schedule. She is not always available at the time I thought we needed an admin around. However, she is creative and resourceful. She came up with ways to work around her schedule to keep parents happy and business running smoothly. She’s the best admin I’ve ever had and she manages her task completely differently than I envisioned.

The Couch-sitting

Finally, I’m left with couch-sitting my program. I trust my staff and try my best to be there for them when they ask for my help, instead of stepping on their toes. I do struggle sometimes with staying on top of updating our systems. But I try my best to keep at it and accept that sometimes it won’t be perfect.

It takes time, but eventually, you will have effective software in place to streamline tasks and automate processes. Your top-notch team will provide quality service to kids and parents. And you will let go of needing to control every detail. At that point, you will be able to sit back and manage the big picture without stressing the details.

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