A rock-climbing entrepreneur helps customers reach new heights.Watch video
When Walter Hailes couldn’t find what he wanted, he did what any true entrepreneur would — he went out and created it. Passionate about indoor rock climbing since he was fifteen, Hailes didn’t want to give up on the sport as an adult. But finding a place to support his love of heights in Missoula, Montana, became a challenge.
“I was working as an exercise physiologist in a research lab, and we didn’t have a climbing gym here in town. No one else would open it … I thought I’d give it a try,” he said.
It turns out Hailes wasn’t the only one looking for a place to belay, climb and rappel.
What he started as just a small climbing gym has now grown into Freestone Climbing, a mammoth 12,000-square-foot indoor rock climbing center offering everything from youth programs to yoga, rope climbing and cross-training courses.
Key to his businesses’ growth has been dedication, a great team, a supportive community and choosing the best tools. Those tools have gone beyond climbing gear. The company’s payment technology has also helped them reach peak performance.
“One of the hardest things to figure out when you’re starting a business is how to take money,” Hailes said. “How do you manage all of that? How do you keep track? We’re a membership based businesses; you have to take care of not only the person, but their membership and their payments.”
He started out with an integrated payment processing system that wasn’t cutting it. He said he didn’t understand the statements he received each month, loaded with fees, discounts and surprise charges.
That’s when he switched to Vital®, which not only offers discounts tailored to his specific business but also gets customers checked in quickly.
“It was a great transition,” Hailes said. “It’s way more flexible. We can move people through our front desk system faster.”
Youth Program Coordinator Carleigh LeBlanc said using Vital has been a huge improvement because she isn’t stuck behind the front desk when they get busy. The system is also intuitive.
“Everything is right there. It’s just clicking a button. It’s super simple,” Leblanc said.
With Vital and Discover Global Network, Freestone Climbing is poised to continue its ascent to success. As far as Hailes is concerned, the sky has always been the limit.
“As we continue to see the transition from cash payments to credit card payments — like Discover — I’m really hopeful for all that functionality in the Vital system,” he said.