Things have been pretty quiet on the blog front lately, so this mammoth post is going to be a bit different to what I’ve posted before.
I’ve always been a fairly independent, “I can do it myself” person, as my parents can no doubt attest to, with plenty of photos of the ridiculous outfits and situations I found myself in as a result. That’s an attitude I’ve brought with me to Circus Akimbo, and it’s been a great learning opportunity as I trial and error-ed my way through the beginning years of starting a business. If you’ve seen anything by Circus Akimbo, chances are I did it, from designing flyers, writing newsletters, teaching classes, booking workshops, coding websites, organising showcases, running birthday parties…
This year marks the 5th birthday of Circus Akimbo, and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey so far (stay tuned for birthday celebrations later this year). This year has also marked a number of significant changes in how Akimbo operates.
- A year ago now, Sarah became the first trainer I hired to teach a class that I wasn’t also teaching
- Last month, Eloise came on board as a party coordinator, taking over management of party bookings and processes
- This year I’ve developed an online trainer training course to help new trainers get foundational information
- We completed redid the website, based on a user experience research project
- We bought an aerial rig, which will give our students public performance opportunities
- I built an online shop into the new website, adding the option of purchasing tshirts, bags and hoodies whenever suits instead of just when we put in a group order
In the first year, all our classes were held at Asquith Community Centre
A lot of those changes, while major from an operational side, would have passed almost unnoticed, unless they have improved your experience, which is always the goal. However, there’s a big one coming up which is going to be very noticeable.
In 2016 we started using Mindbody to organise our bookings. It’s a very fancy system, with a whole bunch of business features and an associated app. The problem is, while I got a few hours of training on how to use the system, no one else did (particularly not the people trying to use the system to book classes) and it was all a bit confusing. Not impossible to use, but it meant I spent a fair bit of time updating things from our end to make sure it all worked. It wasn’t the perfect fit, but it mostly let people book classes, parties and workshops, so it didn’t seem worth the headache of making everyone switch to a new system.
However, Mindbody has recently decided to put up their prices, almost doubling the already exorbitant monthly fees, which means a not perfect fit is no longer worth the price tag.
If you’re still with me at this point, thank you so much for your interest in Circus Akimbo. This is the important bit that I want to share:
What comes next…
When replacing the previous website, I moved us to WordPress, which means there’s a bunch of plug and play options that we can add to the website. For instance, blog posts! Also the online shop I mentioned above, which is a very important feature. Over the next month, all bookings will be transitioning to the online shop, using a system I’ve dubbed Akimbo CRM to manage enrolments.
It’s a custom built booking system designed to work exactly the way you need it, with simple and intuitive options for enrolling online. It will allow us to accept Active Kids vouchers, and give you more control over your bookings.
Best of all, because it’s our own system, we can customise it to our hearts content. The current version is a working prototype, to which we’ll add extra features and functionality as needed. You can view the current features at www.circusakimbo.com.au/account
To make sure we’re heading down the right path, I thought this might be a good time to check in and see how we’re doing, in terms of these changes and the business as a whole. How do you feel about Circus Akimbo? What are we doing well and what would you like us to change? Circus is a community activity, so if you have a few minutes, please donate them to helping build a community you want to belong to.
And if making your life easier isn’t incentive enough, there are also a few prizes up for grabs! One lucky winner will receive a free term of circus classes for themselves AND for a friend, and there are another five mini prize packs for survey respondents. Responses close 1st August.
Want to know more? Stay tuned for the next giant blog post, How Does It Work, in which I’ll go through the features I’ve put in the new system, how they work and what else I’ve got planned.
Thanks for reading,
Founder & Head Trainer, Circus Akimbo