Fair Oaks Recreation & Park District (FORPD) serves around 35,000 residents. Their mission is to maximize all available resources to deliver well-maintained parks, high quality recreation facilities, programs, and events so that they can become the primary recreation provider of choice for the Fair Oaks community.
For Chelsey Adams, Recreation Supervisor this meant being cognizant of the agency’s expenses and revenues, knowing what works vs. what doesn’t, and achieving more with the resources at their disposal.
Chelsey shares her experience on leveraging data to make and back decisions with SmartRec in this candid Q&A!
Leveraging technology built for P&R
What were some of the pain points that made you look for a different software?
We needed a new solution when we found out that our previous one was going to be discontinued. We looked at several options and even did a few demos, but when we asked agencies around us to know which ones they were familiar with, SmartRec came up.
What made you choose SmartRec?
Your online experience is very user friendly for our participants. A lot of our constituents would come to our offices to register before – because they struggled with the previous system. But now they can easily register from home! Another big push for us was that SmartRec could help with cost recovery since it is partnered with 110%.
What were your objectives coming into the cost of service analysis process? What were some of your “AHA!” moments?
Mike Aho, our District Administrator, wanted to know how much our direct and indirect costs were affecting our programs – now we’re seeing the reality of the changes we have to make to be successful moving forward or it’s not going to be sustainable.
Here we thought we had this successful program that was making enough revenue to cover the costs, but it’s actually not. That was a tough (but necessary!) reality to face.
Facing social equity challenges head on
What are some community or social equity related challenges that you are hoping to work on with SmartRec?
With our preschool, we’re at a middle price point in our area, but looking at our data we realized we could charge a bit more because it’s justified. Whereas, we have a yoga class that we’ve offered for 30 years but it isn’t making anything, so maybe that’s a class we need to phase out or get creative to find ways to boost participation. Or, for example, we realize, there’s T-ball class that our community loves, maybe we should subsidize it at a higher rate than we have in the past.
“Now that we have SmartRec, we’re trying to figure out how can we make the most of it to help not only our district but also our community.”
How are you using SmartRec’s community segments feature?
Community segments is great, not just for us now, but anyone else who needs it in the future. Before, we would charge non-residents a $5 fee for our services but during COVID, we changed our mindset to offering our residents a discount instead of charging non-residents a fee…
When I tried setting up community segments the first time, the zip code that was in the system needed to be adjusted because it wasn’t our actual district boundary. So I worked with your support team to create a custom segment that was representative of our actual boundaries. This meant we didn’t have to do the extra work of manually inputting addresses or offering people manual discounts because they didn’t fit into our community segment. Now it’s fully automatic and we don’t have to worry about it.
Fair Oaks residents celebrating FORPD's 75th anniversary. Image courtesy of Shaunna Boyd (American River Messenger).
A legacy of mindful initiatives for the community
What are your long-term goals that you are hoping to accomplish with SmartRec?
“Our long term goal is showing our Board and our community that we are going to put their tax dollars towards initiatives that benefit them directly! Using their input and our data to justify why we make the decisions that we make as transparently as possible on where our time and money is being spent.”
We have a section on our website called Transparency and we have a monthly Board meeting. Katy Coss, our Recreation Superintendent, and I will be presenting all the insights we get from our cost of service exercise at an upcoming Board of Directors meeting so we can be aligned on where we go from here. We want to make decisions backed by data as much as possible.
What advice would you offer organizations in your industry that may be experiencing the challenges you faced?
Do your research. Do the demos, ask the hard questions, put out a community survey to find out what’s important to your constituents. Rely on agencies around you who are using software that you are interested in to share their firsthand experience.
For cost recovery – if this is something the software can help with, it’s a no-brainer. For us, it was one of the main reasons we chose SmartRec. Additionally your support team has been extremely helpful for us. I cannot say enough about how amazing they are!
FORPD's SmartRec at a glance