Ferndale Parks & Recreation: Serving 40,000+ Residents and Visitors
The Parks & Recreation (P&R) Department provides residents and visitors with a range of recreation leagues; a community center; and accessibility to amenities and activities throughout 14 community parks.
Ferndale's P&R SmartRec at a glance
Upgrading agency service offerings
Ferndale P&R employees used to spend a lot of time answering customer queries and manually registering their community members for events and activities. Rentals took hours, because administrators often had to call customers to make sure they paid.
This situation did not align with the vision the organization had for the quality of its online customer service but also in the ways administrative time was being used.
Breaking away from tradition
“That’s why we chose SmartRec, we wanted someone up and coming and forward thinking like we are. […] data is big for us” explains Lisa Bryant, the Deputy Director.
Lisa went to revenue development and management school for recreation, which is a short but intense course, where NRPA covers strategies for developing revenue and managing it in a P&R context. Since she’s had SmartRec, she’s been experimenting with different features to do just that.
Building revenue opportunities
The Ferndale Parks & Rec store is set up to suggest snacks for the drive-in cinema, as an add-on to drive excess revenue and reinvest in services.
“We're starting to sell stuff in the store, which is something that's new for our department. We never sold anything.” Now that she can pull reports on how many items are sold, they can start making decisions like increasing advertising of services and amenities.
Ferndale P&R online store
Lisa’s pride is the soccer program in which 300 kids are enrolled. She applied her expertise in negotiating for quality uniforms, invested more in safety, but overall was able to keep the price point the same as last season to ensure it continues to be affordable.
Ferndale P&R Youth Soccer
Wait lists are an important feature, as the popularity of the soccer program is bigger than availability. If a player can no longer make it, Ferndale are comfortable issuing refunds, because the system contacts waiting customer and enrolls them automatically, based on order of sign-up.
Overall, she’s starting to see her hard work pay off in excess revenue for the department. This revenue can be used to invest in additional services and amenities for residents and visitors.
Chasing payments no longer
Tara Brown, Program Specialist, looks after community engagement and rentals. She likes how the online store makes events accessible: “The community can see all of our remote activities in one hub, and that’s very helpful for them.”
Even when customers reach out for rentals, Tara can just email people their invoices with a quick explanation on how to pay online. Not only do customers pay with ease, unprompted, they find their way to the store to book activities: “After I send over their invoice for rental they start to utilize it on their own […] and book themselves for soccer or other different sports, without me having to help.”
Tara estimates that SmartRec saves her about two hours every day: “that new free time I'm able to put into our community projects instead of rentals for just one specific person. So that definitely helps […] by letting go and letting SmartRec take over for me.”
Customers appreciate their new-found independence as well. “It's like a relief that they don't have to wait for me to answer the phone or wait for an email back from me.”
Tara no longer needs to chase payments, leave answering machine messages or waiting for people to pick up. She can just check if they paid directly in SmartRec!