Cell phones and tablets have become the go-to source for storing and retrieving client information. Small, portable devices make it easy to collect and recall information, but they are also easily lost, stolen, broken and prone to software crashes. In order to make sure you have all your client information backed up, you should keep that database in more than one location, and contained in a software that works for your business.
A well-maintained database also ensures you and your staff are using the latest, most up-to-date client contacts and information when you are communicating with your customers.Your database can contain the normal names, phone numbers and email addresses, but also might keep track of lesson or board payments, notes on horses, and items such as whether that client has signed your waivers and agreements.
“A database [management system] can also provide an easy way to automatically contact clients or employees with either some kind of triggered email, text or phone 'alert' status message, or an emailed promotional piece,” explained Claudette Thornton, a marketing consultant in Upstate New York.
There are a wide variety of ways to manage databases, including specific customer relationship management (CRM) tools created just for small businesses.“But database [management systems] are not one size fits all,” she cautioned. If a business buys a database management software that requires more staff, time and financial investment than can be committed, the business owner will be disappointed with the return on investment (ROI) for that management software.
“In my opinion, the first and most important thing a company needs to look for is a database [software] that is manageable within the resources at hand and that can grow with the company,” Thornton suggested. “This is especially important for small businesses.”
Before selecting a database software, consider hiring a consultant to help determine your stable’s long- and short-term marketing and communication needs and objectives.Then decide who will be responsible for maintaining it and how much time that will take. And most importantly, determine what your budget for purchasing the database management software.
Most databases have optional features that can be added on at a later date to support a company’s growth plan.Choose a software you can manage today, and keep a list of the features you’d like to add on once resources increase.
“With the right database [software] for your business, a company can very successfully increase their client/customer base, revenue, and ultimately their business,” she concluded.
Editor's note: Your first database software might be something as simple as Excel. You can create a document that allows you to upload, organize and export information on your clients. Again, any software is only as good as the information that is put into the system.