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By Kane Hooper

GKR Karate - a Case Study

We created an online student management app, digitizing the student check in process - all fully integrating to Salesforce!

Introduction

GKR Karate International is an international network of karate dojos spanning Australia, New Zealand, UK and now the US. Founded in the mid 80’s, GKR has over 30,000 members with more than 2,500 classes running each week between 4 countries. They cater to a large student community which is active on socials.

Reinteractive has built a custom web app on Heroku connected to GKR’s Salesforce org through Heroku Connect to perfectly meet GKR’s needs.

The Challenge

GKR were already using Salesforce CRM and wanted to leverage the power of Salesforce with an integrated app, allowing them to gather their student’s attendance and training data to improve retention dates, improve the ability to nurture students on their journey, and to effectively digitally market to their students based on demographics and level of skill.

GKR Karate’s check-in process was a 3-step manual activity involving the student scanning their digital pass for validation, having their name written on a paper based class sheet and then their physical training card was marked by the instructor to allow for manual attendance tracking. The paper and pen system was fine for a few dojos but as GKR expanded, check in was taking longer, taking up valuable training time and adding to the hall costs.

This paper and pen check-in was unworkable for such a large membership base. GKR Karate needed a digital process to facilitate faster, smoother student check-ins. With the student data digitized, such training habits, including how long and how often they train, would provide the metrics they could use to understand the student journey and engage with them no matter where they are in the world.

With all of their student data coming through the app into Salesforce, it would also allow GKR Karate to generate accurate and detailed reports allowing them to really understand their business and zero down into specifics for a region or area. All which leads to accurate business decisions and the ability to immediately see what is working and what isn’t and to pivot rapidly for continued growth.

Choosing the Right Solution

Stafford Pascoe, GKR Digital Marketing Manager, originally looked at an off-the-shelf platform but because of their very unique setup, and the fact it would mean bending several GKR Karate processes to fit that software, a more custom approach was appealing.

GKR Karate’s Salesforce Partner ‘Big Data Digital’ suggested developing a custom app on the Salesforce Heroku platform because of the easy synchronizing with their Salesforce CRM and the cost savings; large amounts of data needed to be stored and Heroku provides very efficient pricing on data storage compared to developing directly on Salesforce.

Stafford was introduced to reinteractive’s COO Kane Hooper and from the original meeting and the project pitch, it made perfect sense to go with reinteractive.

“From our first meeting with reinteractive, we had tunnel vision - everything that was pitched to us made perfect sense and was exactly what we were looking for. It was a perfect fit for our requirements” —Stafford Pascoe - Digital Marketing Manager

App Design Workshop

First up was the reinteractive App Design Workshop - a step by step deep dive into the application, user engagement, user and architectural flows. From this the sitemap and wireframes were created, culminating in a fully clickable prototype, used for testing to ensure the user experience was user friendly and functional. After extensive testing the high fidelity designs were created and the project was ready for the development phase.

The Project

The overall app-build was very large in scope. As part of successfully managing a large scope project, it was broken down into various stages, allowing each to be completed. Full Agile project management was used with daily standups, weekly targets and testing. Communication levels and transparency of the progress were high, with Stafford involved every step of the way.

“The whole process went smoother than I thought. On the surface it was a massive project and I remember scoping it out thinking I am going to lose so much hair! But the project management by reinteractive and the use of Pivotal Tracker, breaking everything down to daily requirements, targets and tickets, took the pressure off and made everything manageable. Systematically getting things done step by step - it came down to what needed to be done today, not this overwhelming project and I was very impressed with that.” —Stafford Pascoe - Digital Marketing Manager

With Covid hitting in the middle of the project, lockdowns and other circumstances brought the project to a halt. To offset the standstill, Stafford and the team launched an online dojo, with on-demand movement classes and content for all GKR Karate members to access. This is proving very popular and is expanding now.

Application Features

The GKR Karate application is a custom Rails app storing data in a PostgreSQL database hosted on Heroku. Most of the tables in the database are syncing to and from GKR's Salesforce account (e.g. a student is a Salesforce Contact), allowing them to access data within Salesforce about their students in real time, with the ability to generate accurate and up to date reports. This all means that the Rails app is talking to a database, like all good Rails apps do. And then back of that the data is syncing to and from Salesforce. Check in is now super smooth with students logging their class attendance using a digital pass with a QR code on it. The Sensei (teacher) scans their code and the data feeds back into Salesforce. All reliance on paper and manual data entry is eliminated and a full history of each student’s attendance is available within Salesforce. The front-end of the app is primarily designed to be viewed on mobile devices, with the back office admin section designed in a traditional desktop layout. The app is lightning fast with the typical response times of 0.2 to 0.3 seconds for the most-used pages.

Rollout

The initial launch took place across GKR’s South Australian and Victorian locations for the test phase followed by the remaining Australian states, including New Zealand and the United Kingdom throughout 2022.

User feedback from GKR Karate instructors and students at the front end has been overwhelmingly positive with class registration times improved by over 75%, leaving more time to focus on the karate training rather than class administration.

Despite the fact that the software has not been live for a significant time as yet, through the digitization of these attendance records, GKR has been able to identify key points in a students journey where additional engagement through a combination of various automated and manual processes has seen the average student lifespan increase by approximately 20%.

With further development taking place to continue to improve the software as well as the supporting automation and gamification of the data collected, it is anticipated that further increases to student engagement, loyalty and therefore lifespan will be achieved.

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