A CRM for your microschool – Get the free Airtable template & instructions here

Hello school founder! You’re my hero 😊

The problem: Everyone says your sounds awesome! But the ideal family and your school both have very high standards, so only a small percentage of “interested” families become enrolled families. Needle in a haystack.

You can’t afford to lose the conversational thread with anyone who expresses interest. You also can’t afford fancy software or a team of people to solve this problem for you.


You need a

  1. CRM,
  2. that your team can collaborate on,
  3. and that can automate some messages/actions so you aren’t spending hours each day managing your contacts.

Obviously price and features and future-proofing are important factors too.

Meet Airtable

Church CRM
Church CRM

Look familiar? You already know all about spreadsheets. But the “spreadsheet” presented here is simply the user interface for what is actually a database. Historically, these existed in separate pieces of software.

  • Good news: Your experience with a spreadsheet will apply! Even the fancy functions.
  • Bad news: If you don’t have experience working with databases, theres a learning curve.
  • Good news: I’m giving you a free template to use, and will make using it as simple as possible.
You don’t need to read further.

Grab the template and start playing with it, it will start to click soon enough. Use the church template for now, while I finish the School template-> Church Template

There is also some homework for you at the very end of the post.

How’s a database different from a spreadsheet?

I promise you don’t need to know this. I think of a database as a three dimensional spreadsheet.

Imagine you are creating a library of books, and you want to keep a list of them. You jump into Excel and start with:

Book Title AAuthor 1Shelf X
Book Title BAuthor 2Shelf Y
Book Title CAuthor 3Shelf Z

You like being able to sort by any heading, filter results, and even group or categorize.

Ok time to enter the classic: Book D!

Book DAuthor 2Shelf X

Notice Book D shares an Author with Book B, and a Shelf with Book A…

Now imagine you have 1000 books, and some more columns too. Year Published. Date Last Featured. Author Birthplace. Date Shelf was last sorted.

Consider what you would have to do to figure out which shelves contain the books by Authors 247 and 912. What books were published in 1952?

Lots of sorting and scrolling, right? It gets trickier.

Should you enter the Birthplace of Author 2 repeatedly, for each of his books? You sorted shelf X yesterday, are you going to add that date to the 50 books that were on it?

And then late one night, weary from all the copy and pasting, you commit the greatest sin in all of data management: You start using your brain to hold the data.thunder

This is about students, families and making my life easier?

Two books can have the same author. Two authors can have the same book. Two shelves can have the same author, but not the same book…

Two kids can have the same parent. Two parents can have the same kid. Two families can be ready for the next stage in your pipeline. Two stages can require the same person to send an email…

That’s why I call it a three dimensional spreadsheet.

#1 habit to break when moving from spreadsheet to DB: Go easy on the “Tabs” / “Pages”

On Excel, you make a new tab when you feel like it, right? Theres too much info on this page, and it feels better going over there. But Airtable isn’t a flat page, its a relational database. So we have to start thinking a little more like a computer here, and not make decisions based on where we would like to see the data. Creating useful views of the data is a separate issue we will get to.

Founder homework:

Map out your customer’s journey. Maybe in a 2-row spreadsheet like the following. Or on paper where you will have the flexibility to diagram other branches. Mindmeister.com and gitmind.com are also great free software for mindmaps & diagrams.

1. Place ad2. Receive first email3. Receive Info4. Receive tour date5. Remind678
Send this note and money to this personTeamate B: email asking questions, add to CRMTeammate A: confirm eligibility. Email re: booking tourEmailSend this notice 2 days before tourxyz

Be as specific as possible about the actions that need to be taken.

See ya in the next post : )

1 thought on “A CRM for your microschool – Get the free Airtable template & instructions here”

  1. I love this! Super clear, and it makes me want to jump right in. Especially because I have multiple excels, MailChimp, Google Forms, etc. I want to see everything in one place and not have to do so much maintenance – every owner feels this way.

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