I talk every day about the power and capabilities of the iPad, but this is a use case story that even I didn’t imagine: the iPad in use at poolside, in the pool, and running a small business that provides swimming lessons.
At the Woggle Goggle Swimming School in Penrith, Cumbria they’ve built a system that lets them run every aspect of their business on the iPad – from literally in the pool to the back office. The school is run by Ben Levene and his wife Jacqueline. Jacqueline teaches all the swim lessons and Ben handles the commercial and admin side of the business.
Here’s how Ben introduces their usage of the iPad:
With the help of a couple of neat apps, an excellent software builder and a third party iPad product, we have built an all in one system on our iPad, which runs every single function of our swim school.
We take the iPad into the pool and are able to take registers and perform other admin duties. We can film the pupils in and under the water to help us show a pupil where they need to improve there technique. We can even test pupils, pass them for exams and even create high quality printable swimming certificates, all whilst in the pool. The same software also produces all our invoices and communicates with all our customers.
Ben tells me that the management of a swimming school is very admin heavy and of course the nature of the Woggle Google business posed one very specific challenge:
Each one of these admin tasks were paper based, they were not connected to each other and they were complicated, time consuming and expensive. On top of all this the biggest problem we had with a paper system is that we work in and around water. Obviously paper does not mix to well with water, half way through a swimming term we would find that lesson registers were illegible and falling to bits. As the business grew it became obvious that we had to make some changes to the way we operated.
I have a background in IT and I knew that to move forward as a business we needed to implement more technology into our working practices, but once again our biggest dilemma would be using technology near water. I had owned an iPad for a year or so previous, after reading various articles on your site about how different organisations were using iPads, I thought that it would be an ideal business tool, if only we could create an interface on a very limited budget and some how figure out how to deal with the water issue.
The first thing to find was a truly waterproof case for the iPad. After a lot of research, the eventual choice here was the Lifeproof Nuud case – which has proved well up to the task.
On the software side of things numerous apps were looked at in the search for a flexible, user friendly, and not terribly expensive database app capable of handling all of Woggle Google’s business functions. Filemaker (desktop) and Filemaker GO, for the iPad ended up being the solution, along with the help of a veteran Filemaker developer who built a custom system for the school.
The custom Filemaker-based system lets the school manage lesson attendance, lesson plans, pupil assessment, pupil reports and certificates, and staff hours and wages. It is also used to create invoices, reconcile customer payments, create and view reports, and store essential documents.
And of course the iPad is also at work right at the heart of the business:
At all times during the Lesson the iPad is either in the water with an assistant or right on the poolside within arms reach.
It’s great to see the iPad providing such a complete solution for a small business. My thanks to Ben for sharing his iPad at Work story with us.