North Bay Ontario, is a small city with a big heart, sitting squarely on the shores of Lake Nipissing. Its residents are passionate about quality of life, year-round festivals, and hockey. Lots and lots of hockey.
The West Ferris Minor Hockey Association has almost 700 players, with 36 house teams playing in six divisions, and 10 travel teams. The season runs from September to March, with tryouts in May and registration in June. For a small staff without a big budget, West Ferris MHA has to make the most of every dollar.
“We’re passionate about providing the best possible experience,” says Matt Duquette, who works at a bank during the day, but spends most of his free time as the club’s secretary and treasurer. “We want the kids to have fun at all levels.”
One day, before moving to TeamSnap, their previous technology provider took down West Ferris’s website during an office move. It was embarrassing and a bad experience for everyone. “Communication was poor, support was poor, and this was the last straw,” says Duquette. “We started looking for a new system.”
As they evaluated their needs, two key problems surfaced: first, registration was all manual. West Ferris MHA had to staff an office, collect checks, go to the bank, enter every player into their system, and then re-enter everything into Hockey Canada’s system. It was a logistical nightmare. Communication with members was also a struggle.
“Before, we’d put registrations and tryouts on our website and hope people looked,” says Duquette. “We’d email coaches and ask them to email the team. We’d post on Facebook. It was a shot in the dark, hoping we’d reach everyone.”
For the biggest association in North Bay, it wasn’t acceptable to operate this way. “I’m a volunteer trying to juggle a lot of balls at once, says Duquette. “We had multiple systems that didn’t work together, and poor ease-of-use. We had to do better.”
“We already knew about TeamSnap,” says Duquette. “Our coaches had been using it to run their teams for years.” But when the MHA board did a deep dive into everything TeamSnap has to offer, they were thrilled and surprised to learn about TeamSnap’s robust feature set for clubs, leagues and associations.
Says Duquette: “After taking the time to figure out what we wanted to do, TeamSnap did it all.”
Setup was a breeze, thanks to several calls with the TeamSnap onboarding team and live chat. The West Ferris staff quickly set up registration, customizing it to their specific needs. They added divisions and teams and built out their new website using easy editing tools and great documentation.
They also discovered new opportunities. “Once we dove in, we got really excited,” says Duquette. “We had no intention of doing installment payments for registration this year, but after reading a help article we realized that we could do it right away.”
The staff was nervous about learning a new system, but quickly went from apprehensive to excited. “Every time we learned something new we were like, ‘This is so cool. This is even more cool!’”
Implementing communication and registration through TeamSnap saved West Ferris MHA hundreds of hours, and families loved how much easier it was to register right from their computer or phone.
“We saved tens of hours on registration alone,” says Duquette. “Parents said that it was so much easier than last year.”
Thanks to these newfound efficiencies, West Ferris MHA was able reverse rising costs and drop down from two to a single paid employee, reinvesting the savings into programs for the kids. Feedback from coaches has been nothing but positive. Having access to everything from rostering to schedules to knowing player availability has made their jobs easier.
And as for communication, now Matt can just click and choose exactly who he needs to send a message to, in an organization of 700 players and their families. “It’s phenomenal,” he says.
Looking back, making the switch to TeamSnap seemed like a challenge for a small-town operation with big dreams, but Duquette realizes it was the obvious move. “It was a no brainer,” he says. “We would do it again in a heartbeat. TeamSnap has been worth every penny.”