March 25, 2019 Last updated March 19th, 2019 1,428 Reads share

Improve Your Large-Scale Center Operations With Data: An FAQ

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Your constant goal is to improve the outcome of your efforts. No matter what type of service you provide—software, consulting, or products and services like a rec center—you know that your goal is to improve your return on investment and profit margins while providing value to your customers.

However, determining the best path to success can be a task more easily said than done, especially for large-scale centers. Smaller centers can use holistic methods of determining areas of improvement, but that can be an impossible task for larger organizations. It can be hard to figure out what strategies present opportunities for growth.

Instead of trying to figure out holistically where your center can strengthen its strategy, use the data that you collect to make data-driven decisions to improve.

Our area of expertise is rec center management, but the strategies that we use to increase membership sign-ups, improve marketing ROI and sales, and maintain high levels of member satisfaction can be applied to all types of businesses.

At the root of every decision we make is data. To help any large-scale center implement these best practices into its own plan of attack, we’ve broken down our decision-making process into 5 questions that you can answer about your own business. As you answer these questions, you’ll realize where your areas of improvement are.

These questions are:

  1. What metrics do I need to measure?
  2. How am I measuring marketing success?
  3. How can we improve marketing success?
  4. How am I measuring customer satisfaction?
  5. How can we improve customer satisfaction?

No matter what type of business you run, your sales and sustainability rely on marketing success and customer acquisition/retention. Let’s go ahead and discuss measuring and improving each of these areas in order to grow your center in the future.


1. What metrics do I need to measure?

In order to make data-driven decisions, you need data! There are two important aspects of ensuring that you have a comprehensive overview of the metrics of your business: quantifiable benchmarks and consistent reporting.

Quantifiable benchmarks.

To collect data, you have to know what the numbers you’re looking at are and what they mean for your business. In order to have valuable metrics that indicate certain things about your business, you should ask yourself some overarching questions about your business:

  • How am I measuring my marketing efforts?
  • How am I measuring customer satisfaction?
  • How am I measuring my business growth?
  • How am I measuring my employees’ satisfaction?

When you’re running a large-scale center, you should analyze the numbers that represent member engagement. You should be measuring membership sign-ups and renewals, program registration and attendance rates, and non-member activities at your center.

These questions are certainly not an extensive list, but they’ll put you on the right track. Anything that can indicate the health of your business is fair game for metric measurement.

Some of these questions we’ll cover in more depth, so read on for examples of how to quantify them…  

Consistent reporting.

In order to use the data that you collect from your customers and employees in a way that shows you the status of your business, you have to collect data regularly. Many software solutions offer reporting options where you can schedule reports to run on a certain timeline (such as every two weeks) or on certain days (such as the last day of the month or fiscal quarter).

Once you decide how to measure each of these benchmarks, decide on an appropriate schedule to check in.

For example, if you decide to measure your business growth by a number of clients, check in on this number once a month or once a quarter. If you measure business growth by units sold, consider checking in more frequently, like once every ten business days.

Now let’s jump into measuring and analyzing the three most common areas for improvement for businesses.


2. How am I measuring marketing success?

Marketing is a key aspect of every organization’s customer acquisition plan, but it can look different for every industry. For example, fashion has found a massive marketing opportunity on Instagram. Large-scale centers flourish when they can advertise directly to community members through avenues like email, social media, and their websites.

No matter how you’re marketing to your buyer personas, you have to determine some key performance indicators (KPIs) for your marketing strategy in order to see where your business is excelling and where you need to step up your game.

Ask yourself (or your marketing team) some of the following questions:

  • What do our sales funnel look like?
  • Who is our target audience?
  • What is our primary lead generator?

Depending on the answers that you find, you can determine some quantifiable metrics to watch over the coming months in order to gauge the marketing success of your business.

For example, dive into your website’s analytics and measure how many of your leads are coming from the Big 3 of social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. What are you doing on each of those platforms to find more leads?


3. How can we improve marketing success?

Once you’ve established your KPIs for your marketing strategy, it’s time to determine how you can grow from your baseline. One of our favorite tips for improving marketing success is to cement and quantify each step of your sales funnel.

The most important part of the sales funnel is the purchase, so your goal for your marketing strategy should be to usher the lead quickly and effectively through the funnel to the purchase.

Consider, for a moment, that you are a recreation center manager trying to sell memberships. How do you introduce someone to the services your center provides and convince them that they should purchase a membership for themselves or their family?

Name each step of your sales to funnel, and build clear distinctions between each step. Then, take a sample of your leads and determine where in the sales cycle they dropped off.

The step where the lead vanishes is where you need to strengthen your marketing strategy. Take a closer look and find out why that step isn’t helping you convert leads, and then change it.

For more information about acquiring customers online, check out this Q&A guide from Swoop!


4. How am I measuring customer satisfaction?

Everyone who has ever been even slightly involved with a business knows the phrase, “The customer is always right.” Whether or not that’s true is not for us to say. What is true, though, is that it’s important that the customer always feels like they’re right.

Customer satisfaction is crucial for the ongoing success of your business. If your customers are unhappy with your product or service, you’ve lost them as a member of your community and they might damage your reputation among other potential buyers.

It’s crucial that your customers remain happy with your offerings, so you have to be able to measure their happiness. There are two facets to customer satisfaction, so make sure you can measure both: quantitative aspects and qualitative aspects.

Quantitative measurements of customer satisfaction.

Quantitative measurements are far easier than qualitative measurements because much of the data that you can use to determine customer approval is your sales data!

Use some of these measurements to determine satisfaction:

  • Whether any of your customers have purchased from you before.
  • Percentages of returns or refunds processed.
  • Renewals on services (like memberships and class passes).

Repeat customers indicate that you’ve established some brand loyalty in a percentage of your customer base, which is an amazing thing. Returns and refunds, however, indicate the opposite. They mean that the customer did not like the product, or it wasn’t what they were looking for. Renewals are a business’s bread and butter because it’s far easier to retain an existing customer than find a new one.

Use these metrics to determine how your business is doing in the eyes of your customers.

Qualitative measurements of customer satisfaction.

These metrics are a little harder to obtain and more difficult to analyze over time, but they’re still important for your business to understand. Qualitative means non-numeric, or related to the quality of something.

In order to measure customer satisfaction in a qualitative manner, you have to hear from them in their own words. But how?

  • Include a link to a poll or survey in your email newsletter.
  • When a customer purchases something, include a field about their experience.
  • Include a step in your customer service protocol that asks about their thoughts.
  • Ask your customers to write a review.

When you ask community members for their feedback, you strengthen the relationship between your organization and the community, as well as show them that you care about their business.


5. How can we improve customer satisfaction?

Once you’ve collected data that indicates your customers’ satisfaction with your business, you can use it to improve your business in their eyes.

Improving customer satisfaction is all about balancing customer needs with the services of the business—unfortunately, some customers will find that your service is not what they were looking for, and there’s nothing that you can do short of changing your entire product.

To improve customer satisfaction, use what you learn from your customers’ opinions to head off issues in the future and demonstrate to them that you are listening.

Some examples of this would be:

  • Reaching out to a customer that requested a refund and asking why they’ve come to that decision.
  • Reading the feedback that you receive in surveys and working to solve any problems that customers have brought to your attention.
  • Using the polls that you send out to fix any widespread issues like a faulty link or glitch in the website.
  • Reaching out to folks whose memberships have lapsed and found out why they didn’t want to renew.

For us, customer satisfaction looks like community residents becoming members and renewing their center memberships year after year while participating in programs, classes, and activities. Community center software keeps track of all of these metrics in one place, as well as others like merchandise sales and facility usage.

The benchmarks and goals of every business will look different, but the strategy behind it remains the same.

Using software that allows you to collect data and generate reports is the basis of the entire data-analysis game: when you can visualize the numbers behind your organization’s wellbeing, you’ll be more likely to improve your business strategy and create a happier member base.

Leave us a comment about your favorite way to use data to improve your techniques!


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Joseph Oriente

Joseph Oriente

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