Whether you are making your facilities available to the community for the first time or you are making improvements to your existing provision, some key questions you may want to be able to answer include:
- Are you achieving your overall vision and to what extent?
- Are you reaching your target audiences and how many from each audience?
- How many people overall are using your facilities, when and for what sports?
- Is your business plan delivering as expected?
- Are you generating income as expected if this was part of your vision?
- Do you have further capacity for growth?
If you are considering applying for funding, it is likely you will be asked to provide baseline data to demonstrate current usage. This will enable you to show the opportunity for growing community use of your facilities and to set realistic targets for growth within a reasonable time period.
An example of a data collection sheet for community activity at your school is available in the resources.
If you intend to collect data about who is using your facility, you will want to consider:
1) How often you can collect data – monthly or termly will provide a clearer picture than annually as it will accommodate seasonal changes in usage
2) How you will collect data - you could include a data collection form within your hirers agreement/ booking form and state it is compulsory for clubs/ groups/ classes to complete, or you could use booking software that can collect this data for you
3) What type of data you will collect - think about how you want to use the data, for example you might measure throughput, but this will not tell you how many individual community users you had and how regularly they visited. You might want to consider a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data. Forums, feedback forms (paper or on-line) and surveys are all good ways of gaining feedback from community users.
To develop a strong evidence base to support the value and importance of your facilities, it is worth using the same systems and collecting the same data regularly to build up a picture of trends or patterns.
If you offer a membership scheme (for example to a fitness suite) you could use a software package that takes customer details when they start a membership and counts their visits and activity. There are a variety of electronic systems available that can provide this type of data and many suppliers can tailor the system to your needs and also provide continuous IT support at a cost. The benefit of investing in an electronic monitoring systems is the accessibility and accuracy of the data and the reduction in administrative resources.
It is important to encourage your community users to report issues regarding maintenance, cleaning, staff, etc to improve your community offer and operate safely. It is also good practice to have a clear customer complaints policy.
TOP TIP: "Be responsive and approachable - we know all our customers individually and adapt to their requirements" - Jo Rolls, Kinetin High School.