Founded in 1979, Island Sailing School & Club has been training sailors for over 40 years.
But like many businesses over the last 18 months, the COVID pandemic presented it a truly unique challenge. And with the help of Zoho Bigin, Island Sailing was able to meet that challenge.
Located on Tomahawk Island, on the edge of the mighty Columbia River in Portland, Oregon, they are dedicated to creating an environment that strives to empower sailors to achieve their goals.
Once you get your sailing certifications, you can become a member of Island Sailing. Members can then embark on adventures using Island Sailing’s extensive fleet of sailing boats.
What Does Island Sailing Do?
Students who come to Island Sailing are trained and coached by Coast Guard-licensed captains. They learn to practice good seamanship and develop the skills needed to enjoy sailing. Island Sailing is an American Sailing Association certification facility.
What is the Business Niche?
The customer niche for Island Sailing isn’t confined to an age group.
The company’s goal is to empower and inspire the emerging or growing sailor to better achieve sailing goals. The customer can be anyone who agrees “it’s time to turn the motor off.”
Through working and learning new skills together, students often become lifelong friends.
Classes include beginning, intermediate and advanced levels. There are also Cruise and Learn course adventures.
People can eventually become members of Island Sailing, after which they are able to use various boats, ranging from 20-30 feet long, from the available fleet.
How Did the Business Start?
Island Sailing was founded by a group of people who met through their passion for sailing. They wanted to help others either learn to enjoy sailing or expand their skills.
The biggest win in helping others enjoy sailing.
“At our core, we are sailors. We started where you are, following an intuitive desire to sail. Over decades our fun, adventurous, interactive community has built a place to hone their sailing skills, create lifelong friendships and most importantly, share their passion for sailing,” said Stephen Frankland, Owner and Operator of Island Sailing.
The business was sailing along smoothly until – as was true for so many small businesses – the pandemic struck.
Pre-pandemic, Island Sailing classes were made up of single people, couples, and
However, in order to stay in operation during the pandemic, Island Sailing had to adhere to CDC guidelines, making sure that they offered a safe and sanitized environment for clients, but also had to start organizing students by household.
As Cassie Courtney, Marketing Director of Island Sailing put it, “Typically our sailing classes are mixed so we had to do a lot of finessing with our students and instructors to make sure the classes were segmented properly.”
How Did Zoho Help?
Island Sailing needed a flexible system that would help them keep track of new and existing members and offer the functionality needed to adapt to the new way of arranging classes. They found what they needed with Zoho Bigin, a CRM solution for client management.
“One of the biggest benefits of using Bigin for our company has been client management and incoming prospects for our classes and membership for our sailing school. Because of COVID, we had to go from mixed household classes to single household classes and pair them with the available instructors. When some of the COVID restrictions were lifted here in Oregon, we used Bigin to help us keep track of clients and potential students who provided proof of vaccination,” said Courtney.
The adoption of Bigin helped Island Sailing adapt to the “new normal” by developing a new strategy. Courtney said, “We created a policy around clients and prospects providing proof of vaccination so they could come to the facility and enjoy their classes and move about freely without wearing a mask, and Bigin allowed us to keep track of and schedule all of that.”
Courtney went on to say that the new policy improved communication and helped keep the entire Island Sailing crew nimble. “Additionally, when we make a note in Bigin of a member or incoming student who’s been vaccinated, all of our staff receive alerts. It also integrates with our Google Calendar, so we keep track of all our customer related interactions and management and we can schedule larger, mixed household classes based on the info we have about students and members being vaccinated. Bigin is the perfect fit for the club.”
Much like a Swiss Army Knife, a good CRM offers a lot of functionality in one tool, and Island Sailing is eager to get more acquainted with their new multi-tool, Bigin.
“There’s a lot of power in this tool and I like to push the systems so I’m sure there are some better integrations and functionality that we could be taking advantage of that we aren’t yet,” said Courtney.
Thanks to Bigin and the tenacity of the Island Sailing crew, calm seas are on the horizon.
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