How’s business? It’s a circus! Well, for Christopher Oakley and Henry Wheaton, it really is.
After becoming circus professionals at New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA), the duo returned home to Easthampton, Massachusetts—a progressive and artistic community with strong family influence. They quickly identified the town as the perfect candidate for a circus studio. And they weren’t wrong.
The venture began as a place for Henry and Chris to practice, but interest spread quickly. And SHOW Circus Studio was born—offering trapeze, aerial fabric, tight wire, partner acrobatics, tumbling, contortion, juggling, clowning, unicycling, and more.
Chris knew that to properly manage SHOW, they needed to launch with business management software in place. With no other options on the market, they went with Mindbody Online. Henry admits that the complexity of their original system was overwhelming, saying “there were so many options for different things and different ways to do it. It was so difficult to understand that only Chris could use it.”
“As co-owner I could barely manage my own business—not to mention [the software] kept changing which made it utterly impossible to train myself, let alone our staff.”
Despite software difficulties, SHOW grew quickly. To handle the demand, they recruited local instructors and old colleagues to create a staff of 12 with a wide range of circus expertise. Now, every week, the SHOW Circus Studio calendar overflows with 36 classes plus private lessons. SHOW physically grew too. They’ve expanded from a single 800 square foot room to over 3500 square feet. The newer space has an open floor training area, an office, and a waiting room. They expanded beyond classes to camps, birthday parties, corporate events, workshops, and even local circus shows.
A streamlined upgrade
SHOW’s rapid growth made the bottleneck caused by their old business software unbearable. When Chris and Henry saw that Front Desk’s software was “intuitive, looked good, was easy for clients and admin, plus had great customization,” the decision to switch was simple. Chris continued to share that “we’ve saved so much time now that we don’t have to walk clients and staff through how to use the software.” Before Front Desk, Chris spent significant time fixing client errors but now he has time to focus on client relationships and growing their business.
“Front Desk is wonderful. When new clients come in to sign up, we hand them an iPad to take their photo, get their info, and sign the waiver. It’s super clear and easy. We love that!”
With the Front Desk Client Kiosk app, SHOW Circus gave their client check-in process a makeover. Not only is it a timesaver but the clients love it too. “Many customers complimented on how much easier it is,” says Henry. Parents especially enjoy “paying up front and not having to worry about payment when they drop off their kids.” And what’s best for the client is best for the owner, right?
Solving old issues
One of the biggest pain points with their previous software was the handling of dependents and families. Henry says, “customers were confused as to whether they were signing themselves or their child up,” he continues, “It was hard to differentiate when you’re managing or not—the software couldn’t associate relationships.” This is an aspect of Front Desk where the software shines for them—making their lives and their clients’ lives simple when managing dependents.
What else gets the dynamic duo excited about Front Desk?
“One of the things we love is being able to email an entire class roster with the notes feature,” Chris said. Henry adds that “making it easy for an instructor to send public notes to a client gives [them] a good record. It’s an absolute godsend.” Chris says that having a simple way for them and their staff to communicate with clients, things like “‘don’t forget to bring your shoes to class tomorrow’, makes things easier and having the record is mind-boggling good.”
“Purchase requests is a feature that has proven it's value time and again,” say Chris, “For private lessons we require pre-payment. But people wouldn’t pay and we’d be waiting and waiting. Before [Front Desk] we didn’t have a way to get payment so it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing that really helped.”
The team says that before Front Desk, “clients signing up got sent to a page that looked nothing like our site—confusing them enough to contact us and totally defeat the purpose of online scheduling.” But now “being able to customize Front Desk to look like our website has gotten rid of so much confusion.” Front Desk lets SHOW Circus Studio personalize their site so it looks like them—helping them keep a consistent brand and happy customers.