I coach a small youth Rugby team, which along with my full time job as a VP of Swiftpage, takes a decent amount of planning to run well – certainly more than I could have imagined! In fact, a children’s rugby team can have (nearly!) as much of a need for tools like Swiftpage as a company does.
You probably wouldn’t think that there would be many parallels between running a rugby team and running a business, but they are a lot more similar, and tend to need similar tools and thinking, than expected.
How not using the right tools made managing the team inefficient
For example, when I first got involved with the rugby team, I inherited a spreadsheet — a very well organized spreadsheet — that held all the contact records of the parents whose boys and girls were coming to the rugby sessions. When I started to use my personal email account to communicate with the parents I found I was mixing up the important personal emails about the kids attending rugby sessions with all of the spam that was also coming through my inbox. All of that meant my personal email account was becoming a mess!
So, using my personal email account to manage this stream of messages started to become a confusing process. In the end I decided to use something that, interestingly, is a tool I use in my day job to great effect. I started to use the contact management system Act! Essentials, which includes a very helpful email marketing tool.
The main reason I decided to use it was because it gave me a structure to work in. For example, there are email templates in Act! Essentials that allow me to more easily structure and present my messages, and I was able to use these to give my messages to parents a better and more interesting ‘newsletter-like’ feel.
What I wanted to do was to send regular emails, informing the parents about any changes to the sessions and schedules. With the structure I could get by using Act! Essentials, I was able to do it in a way that was much more effective and organized than my own ad hoc email setup.
Side-note: The above problem happens a lot with businesses. You often find yourself inheriting data and ways of doing things that, without tools to help you manage your marketing tactics, can leave you with a lot of inefficiencies - especially in terms of how you communicate with people at your customers, clients, vendors and other partners.
How using the Act! Essentials email marketing tool helped ensure that the kids in the team I was coaching were looked after and parents were well informed
As we go through the rugby season there are various different things I need to inform parents of, to make sure that the kids are well looked after and overall have a good experience of rugby in their first months as players. I was also conscious of the fact that I needed to be able to communicate things in an organized fashion to the parents, not least because they become paying members of the rugby club. For example, it gets very cold and wet playing rugby in England in February, so I used the email marketing tool to remind the parents as we played through winter to dress their children in appropriate clothing. Chilblained hands could put a child off rugby for life!
How using the tool gave the parents a better experience
The other benefit I found using Act! Essentials is that I am able to schedule when parents get my emails, to ensure they receive them when they are most likely to open and read them.
As I work quite long hours, I sometimes end up writing the emails to the parents at night. To send emails out at this time is not ideal as it might interrupt someone’s night and could mean that my message would not be read. Using Act! Essentials means that I can do my copy writing at a time that is best for me, and schedule the information emails to go out on a day and at a time which is optimized for when a parent is most likely to read. This leads to a better experience for the parents as they are then more likely to pick up the message when it is sent. Because Act! Essentials keeps a record of all emails sent, it also means I have a history of what I sent throughout the year, and to whom, which helps keep me organized.
I got a lot of feedback that the parents found this a very organized way of doing things — they like being kept up to date about changes on a consistent and scheduled basis.
The parents also fed back that the messages give a professional impression of the rugby club. This is important not just because they pay club membership fees, but also it helps them be confident that the club takes very seriously its responsibility for delivering a high quality service in everything we do.
Side-note: Businesses encounter the same issues; these can be solved in the same way, using the same tools. It’s all about the way in which you communicate with a large number of people, and how effective that communication is. Using tools that make communication more effective will benefit all parties involved.
It’s all about using tools to help make communication easier
As you’ve hopefully learned from this article, the same issues that you would find in a professional setting, you are also very likely to find managing a children’s rugby team. Communication after all is the same on a fundamental level, and the same issues usually arise - the tools that help in coping with those issues in one area ultimately help in streamlining those same issues in another. And learning how to apply them to your needs is extremely helpful.
Being able to use a tool like Act! Essentials to manage processes outside of work as well as at work, is something that I have found to be very valuable. It saves me time, makes communication easier and gives the best impression while I do something I really enjoy. And if it keeps some new young rugby players warm too, that’s great!