Coping with Competition
Using competition butterflies to make your performance better, not worse...
Burble software is a DZ management, manifest and reservation system designed by Franz Gerschwiler, the owner of Skydive Tecumseh in Michigan, one of the oldest running dropzones in the USA. When he bought the DZ he realized the many flaws in the software used to run the business, so he designed his own – 'Burble' – now being used all over the world. We asked Franz to tell us more…
Burble has been live for 4 years now starting at my dropzone for the first year and then growing rapidly from there. It took a couple of years of stalled attempts employing first a skydiver who wrote code for a living and then a software development company who produced nothing useful after a year of back and forth. At that point I knew the programmer in me was going to have to come out of retirement. So I put together a team of first 2 programmers which eventually developed into 4 programmers as Burble expanded into offering the BurbleMe app for sport jumpers. I think that’s what sets us apart from the crowd. It’s a real company with a team of programmers - not just a programmer who wrote software for his dropzone and then decided to sell it. It’s just not that easy. I also had the added advantage of being a DZO and a software programmer/architect in a previous life. It helped me create program that really connects the dots.
Burble has ended up with a rich feature set that continues to grow. The obvious benefits is having bookings connect to reception and on right through to manifest and finally a follow up email to help get customers coming back. Many people don’t realize just how much more Burble does. One of my favorite features is Our BurbleMe app allowing a jumper to send an SOS to manifest letting them know they’ve landed out along with GPS co-ordinates to be displayed on a map back at manifest.
No software product can solve all the conundrums that a dropzone faces, but my aim is to make Burble do as much as it can to help. The great thing is - every time I add a feature to Burble, my own dropzone is one of those that benefit. I’m excited by some of the stuff that comes from being in both worlds.
I attended Pepe’s Island Boogie last year, which was run by Burble. It was mostly great but I got to see first hand what organizers needed at a busy boogies and realized Burble wasn’t getting it all right, so I came back home with a bunch of enhancement ideas to make their lives easier and therefore (hopefully) the whole boogie runs smoother. We’ll be releasing the results of that coming out in the next week or two.
Burble never really stops being in development. There’s a now infamous Burble wishlist that my guys are constantly working on to make DZOs' and manifesters' lives better.
We now have about 110 dropzones live with Burble and another 10 at any given time are trialing it. Initial growth was in the US and then Australia but we are now seeing growth in Europe and the UK. We also have a few dropzones in South America, South Africa and Thailand.
It really is suited to dropzones of all sizes. Although larger DZs see the financial benefits gained with Burbles booking, manifesting abilities and generally enhanced customer experience. It’s almost the small/medium dropzones that need it the most. They are the ones short on staff that don’t have time to send out gift cards or answer the phones.
There are many testimonials on our website but here are a couple of short comments as examples.
“The biggest advantage burble has over other software packages is that the booking system, manifest system and report system all come out of one database. Having one operating system rather than three operating systems has helped us become much more efficient in both booking customers and running our business.“
Ryan Levesque, Ops Manager , Skydive Carolina
“Franz and his team are absolutely fantastic, always available to answer our calls and help us accomplish what we need. The constant support and the easy user interface make our manifest hearts happy. We strongly recommend anybody on the fence to jump in and experience the excellent service and well thought out design.“
The Jumptown Crew