We didn’t have an online booking system when I started as a Fun Science franchisee. We had a booking form which was in Word and worked perfectly well and gave us all the information we needed. However, I quite often felt a slight resistance from customers. They would email to apologise for not completing it. They would send me their deposits but not their form or would say they would have to get their husband to print it off and send it to me by post. Or their computer couldn’t edit it or that they only had a phone and not a computer.
Whilst I didn’t lose any customers or have any complaints I soon realised that parents had very little time and wanted things sorted straight away. And when they did want to sort things out, it would often be late at night or before 9 in the morning, not office hours. Around the same time, I was starting to get more bookings and starting to feel that I was in danger of losing track of who had paid deposits, who hadn’t and what information they had sent me (if they hadn’t sent a form).
Then I discovered PPM. It was recommended on a Facebook forum for children’s entertainers I had joined. It was simple and I liked the feel of it. Adam [PPM Founder] is always willing to sort any glitches straight away and to take any suggestions into account and he is always developing the system to improve it.
Customers can either get in touch via my Partyfolio form online whenever is convenient for them, you get email notification and can then process the enquiry at your convenience. Alternatively, if customers contact you direct, for example by phone, you can quickly and easily input all the info you need into Snozzcumber and then send it to them to verify and/or add further details and pay. It makes things very easy as people can confirm any time of the day or night and transfer the money direct to your account, even when you are asleep or doing another party or whatever.
The diary is the best bit though. I can see at a glance how busy I am any particular month which really helps with programming our own events and fitting in things like meetings and managing my workload.
You can print off a pdf with all the details of the party (including the amount still to pay) and take it with you to the party. However, as the diary has automatically synced to my iphone calendar I don’t usually need to do that, I just click on the address and postcode on my iphone calendar and it goes straight to my iphone maps showing time and best routes and off I go, using it as a SatNav. (Well I usually check it the before so I leave myself plenty of time!)
Once I get back, I can record the payment and mark it as paid, and when I need to do accounts, I can export it all to excel so it helps keep track of income too! Very useful as we often deal in cash. It’s also great as, due to the colour coding, I can know with just a glance if there are any deposits or balances outstanding, particularly useful if you do charity or corporate gigs which aren’t always set up for the ‘cash on the day’ thing.
I can then send a thank you email to the client using the facility. You can create as many standard texts as you like and personalise them as much as you want. You can even add in placeholders which automatically puts in (for example) the birthday child’s name if you want to make it more automated yet seem personal. I use it to ask for reviews and direct them to the websites I’d like them to use. This facility can be used for emails throughout the booking process, for example checking any requirements you have, reassuring them you are coming etc.
Overall the system is excellent. It is a real timesaver. It’s simple for both you and clients to use. It makes you look professional and it you always have the information there at your fingertips on your phone. You can literally be checking if you have availability on your phone as you are talking to a potential booking, and that can be anywhere you are!
Most importantly of all, it makes me feel organised and that gives me confidence. We’re not in this business because we want to be stuck at a desk in an office but we need to instil confidence in our customers and give them excellent customer service. This system helps with both. And depending on your customer service style (or workload!) you can get them to input the data or do it for them and get them to verify it. It’s never happened but the verification system means that if anything were to go wrong, they have verified and agreed the details and agreed to terms and conditions (if you have added them).
I’m very happy to have recommended PPM to our franchisor and for it now to be rolled out to all franchisees. It’s something that will really add value to the franchise offering, as it is almost like a virtual assistant, and with a subscription system, I imagine it is a fraction of the cost of getting a bespoke system created from scratch.
So whether you are a solo entertainer just starting out or a large franchise wanting to offer a great added value service to your franchisees, I’d definitely recommend giving PPM a try. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!
Our Partyfolio has been generating a great deal of party enquiries for us from the moment we started. We have found it to be a really useful resource for getting enquiries in the local area.
We'd like to thank Jacqueline Boylan for providing this detailed insight into the impact PPM has had on the everyday running of her business.
As Jacky has mentioned, she was the first Fun Science branch to try PPM, and kindly recommended the system to her franchisor shortly after. It was proud moment for us to have our first full franchise join us back in 2016, and we are eternally thankful for the key role Jacky played in this milestone.