The UK’s leading baby swim school has discovered a new way to use a best-of-breed scheduling software solution to streamline its underwater photography business.
The swim school is Water Babies, whose core purpose is to teach vital water confidence and safety skills to more than 33,500 babies and children from birth up to four years, at more around than 5600 pools across the UK every week. The software chosen to handle the photography aspects is Rendezvous Workspace from NFS Technology.
Water Babies was established eleven years ago. Because only warm water pools are used, babies can join from birth – the youngest pupil to date was just two days old! While the emphasis is on having fun, the courses are carefully structured, with progressive lesson plans for each week. At the end of each term, parents are offered an underwater photography session with their children.
Rendezvous Workspace was primarily designed as a meeting room management tool, to ensure the right people meet in the right room, with the right resources. But with a few minor tweaks, Water Babies finds it indispensable for getting the right photographer to the right pool at the right time, and with the right equipment for the job.
NFS Managing Director Luis Desouza
is delighted. “We work mostly on a business to business basis. But Water Babies has helped us to identify an emerging market for business to consumer working. Because of Rendezvous’ flexibility and wide-ranging resourcing facility, it is ideal for creating a resource type – in this case photographic sessions in swimming pools – and then to create the workflow necessary to book and manage that resource.
“We call it Concurrent Resource Scheduling.” A New Way to Schedule Resources.
At Water Babies, Business Analyst Liljana Howe is equally enthusiastic, as she describes how Water Babies came to install Rendezvous.
“We are a franchise operation,” she says. “All across the UK, the people who run the franchises book photographers to work at hundreds of pools on specific shoots. We needed the best way to ensure that the right photographer was booked to be at the right pool at the right time to meet each client. At the same time, we needed a way to check and monitor all the bookings at our head office in Devon.
“Previously we did this manually, with little more than diaries, pens and spread sheets. It was becoming clear that the system needed to be streamlined and made more efficient. That was when we started looking for the right software for the job.”
Water Babies’ software search started on the internet, took in trade shows and ended when the company discovered Rendezvous from NFS.
“Although it was clear Rendezvous wasn’t essentially designed for our kind of business, it soon became clear that we could use it to schedule people rather than meeting rooms,” adds Liljana.”Once we realised that, we called in the NFS team and they did the rest.”
“The NFS technicians were great. I was impressed by how keen they were to make their software work for our business. They took the time to talk to us and to get a good grasp of how we operate. After that, only a few minor tweaks were needed for the software and we were in business. Mostly the tweaks were in terminology – changing ‘resource’ to ‘photographer’, for example.” waterbabies schedule.
Technology in Action
Following installation, each Water Babies franchise now has access to Rendezvous. They can see when a particular photographer is free or booked out for another shoot, and when the right photographer closest to their chosen pool is available. Once booked, the appropriate freelance photographer teams up with the franchise for the day to set up a bespoke underwater studio for shooting top quality still photographs, while head office can monitor the bookings in real time.
“The ease of use, audit trail facility, avoidance of repetitive communications and automated emails are going to save us between one and two days work a week,” says Liljana.
“And this is just the start. We can see that Rendezvous has other functions that we don’t even use. We are really open to finding out how else we can utilise the software with in Water Babies.”
“We are very pleased to be working with Water Babies in this way,” adds Luis De Souza. “We know that, rather than merely focusing on resources in terms of the corporate environment, we need also to reflect on the wider context of resources. This is the first time that Rendezvous has been used in this way. I’m confident it won’t be the last.”
NFS Technology are international providers of best of breed solutions and services for hospitality, leisure, conference venue and corporate markets. Established in 1994, with offices in the UK, Ireland, USA and South Africa and Business Partners in the Middle East and Far East, NFS serve an international customer base of more than 1,000 clients.