The “Other” Audit

September 1, 2014, Department, by Alli Meyer

A view of the new Bloomingdale Park District Oasis Water Park. With a passion for her work and drive to improve the community around her, Carrie Fullerton, executive director of the Bloomingdale Park District, knew a good opportunity when she saw one. Last year, she partnered with Jill Slupe, CEO of Verde Martin, to perform a sales audit for the Bloomingdale Park District. The result: implementation of new processes for the agency and an increase in sales of 25 percent, leading to the highest revenues the recreation department had seen in years. 

Bloomingdale Park District has a long history of providing community members with fun away from home. The district manages 14 parks, runs more than 1,200 programs a year and has more than 20 full-time employees. Despite the organization’s success, Fullerton knew there was room to improve recreation revenues. When she heard about Slupe and Verde Martin’s sales audit, she thought, “That process is what I need at the park district.” In order to sustain the industry, one of the agency’s main goals was to sell more recreation programs. The district was also striving to add more value to existing programs and increase revenues by approximately $400,000. Fullerton approached Slupe and the two embarked on what would prove to be a great partnership. “Jill outlined the entire audit process and told me all about how I could be a part of it,” Fullerton says. Convinced that the sales audit would help Bloomingdale Park District, Fullerton gave the green light for Verde Martin to move forward with the process. 

Slupe first visited the facility and began to learn about the district. She met with the staff and did everything from sitting at the front desk to reading over brochures. She studied the roles of each staff member within the agency and looked at how they interacted with clients. After learning about the agency and meeting employees, Slupe walked the management team through modules that examined different aspects of the business. Next, she developed a list of key performance indicators that were important for accelerating sales. Lastly, the Bloomingdale Park District took a strategic approach in order to make its culture more sales oriented. Collaboration was an important aspect of the sales audit, with everyone working to reach the common goal of improving the agency as a whole. “The park district staff came together as a team to change their culture, become a sales organization and offer a better customer experience,” Slupe says.  Because of this, they increased attendance and revenues.

The results of the sales audit were monumental. Says Fullerton, “Jill really helped us reach a great outcome because she helped us change the culture of our organization.” The team developed a plan to drive users to register online, generated targeted strategies based on demographic information for their top 20 programs and created a “We’ve Missed You” campaign, which contacted users who hadn’t registered for classes in more than six months. They began to focus on people who had not been to the facility before or who were not signing up for classes. Additionally, the role of recreational programmers was changed. Before the sales audit, those individuals were in charge only of creating classes for the park district. However, as Fullerton says, “We wanted our recreational staff to see themselves as part of the marketing engine. They needed to work more closely with the marketing department and have a hand in making the program succeed.” After the sales audit, recreation programmers not only created the classes but also played an integral role in promoting them. The Bloomingdale Park District reduced the number of canceled classes by 5 percent, increased new resident usage by 11 percent and household investment by $8 per household. Simple changes like this led to an increase in the agency’s sales of 25 percent and garnered the highest revenues the park district had seen in eight years.

Often, the solution to a problem requires creative thinking, collaboration, and plain and simple hard work. The staff at the Bloomingdale Park District, along with Slupe, worked together to make the sales audit a clear success. Through the process, the company increased sales and revenues and positively altered the culture of the agency. Fullerton praised the process, saying, “Jill is a huge asset to our company. I enjoyed getting to know her and now consider her a friend. I think so highly of her ability to examine an agency, identify its problems and find positive solutions and outcomes!”

Click here to learn more about the Verde Martin’s sales audit.

Alli Meyer is the Marketing Coordinator for Verde Martin.