When I started TroopTrack in 2008, I was determined to build “the best scouting software on the planet”. Over the years, the word “best” for this little company has come to mean a number of different thing that we have strived for, including
- Best feature set
- Best user experience
- Best customer service
- Best infrastructure
We’ve strived to be all of those things over the years, and that effort paid off. From 2008 to 2019, TroopTrack grew every year. We had resources to hire support staff, including me. For a while, TroopTrack was my full-time job.
And then the storm began. Boy Scouts of America took some hard hits - they lost critical affiliations, piled up enormous legal bills, and faced new competition from splinter groups unhappy with BSA’s trajectory. Their membership began to drop.
On top of this, TroopTrack began facing increasing competition from the various national organizations to whose members we provide software. BSA, AHG, and Trail Life USA all adopted national solutions to compete with TroopTrack.
As if that wasn’t enough, 2020 happened. Covid-19 took a heavy toll on scouting. Active membership in scouting declined significantly. Troops, packs, clubs, and crews closed down all over the US and haven’t re-opened.
For the first time in its history, TroopTrack subscriptions have trended down. As a result, revenues have gone down, and we’ve had to scale back. When our long-time support staff member, David Keener, found a position that aligned better with his career interests, we were faced with a tough decision - start the search for a replacement we might not be able to afford if this trend continues, or scale back customer support until the situation improves.
We believe the situation will improve. National organizations tend to see software solutions as one-time investments, whereas we see the need for constant improvement. We don’t make a lot of fanfare about it, but we release improvements to TroopTrack every month. It will take some time, but the cycle we’ve seen in the past will continue - national solutions will age poorly, scouters will become frustrated, and subscriptions will grow again.
We are well-positioned to weather the storm. TroopTrack is a small company, but it’s been reasonably well-managed over the years. It is debt-free and will continue to be so. Tyler and I do not rely on TroopTrack to support our families and as a result are able to take minimal salaries. But we do have to make a choice - we cannot currently afford to both provide full-time customer support as we have in the past and continue making improvements to the TroopTrack product.
We have to choose between the two, and for now we’ve chosen to keep improving the product. We will provide as much customer support as we can, but given we both have full-time obligations that support is going to be in fits and spurts.
Thankfully, we have a robust community that can help with questions and best practices. Aaron Storey, a long-time TroopTrack user, has been especially helpful in the community forums. We love and appreciate him.
We have also been automating routine support tasks. Roster and achievement imports were automated last week, and transfers will be automated soon. As we identify other common questions and requests, we will endeavor to automate and document them.
In the meantime we are also exploring other ways to increase TroopTrack revenue. Options we’ve discussed include:
- Raising our base price or switching to a per-user model
- Charging extra for support by adding a “premium” subscription
- Adding a modest amount of targeted advertising to our platform
We would like to give advertising a trial run, starting sometime between now and the end of January. If the revenue from advertising is sufficient and we start trending toward growth again, we will hire a support staff person to replace the wonderful David Keener.
Tyler and I appreciate your support and patience. Our customers have been our best marketers, and we desperately want to continue delivering a product you love that allows you to spend more time with kids and less time pounding keyboards. Thank you for being a TroopTrack customer.