6 Tips for Better Event Management
Scheduling and managing special events at school district facilities can be complicated. Maintaining a schedule, understanding staffing and other needs, setting up and tearing down rooms, identifying insurance risks and other tasks can be confusing for administrators, and ultimately, costly to the school system in time, resources and money.
This web seminar outlined six practical tips for better event management. The transportation and facilities coordinator at Bellingham Public Schools in Massachusetts discussed how administrators did an in-depth analysis of their facility usage and found that the district was losing a significant amount of money due to inefficiency. By enacting new policies and using an event management system, Bellingham has reduced expenses and recovered costs.
Bellingham Public Schools (Mass.)
Mike Bremer: We have six tips for event management:
1. Gain support from leadership. Support for the new plan must come from all key decision-makers—all stakeholders involved from the top down. You need support for a policy that establishes fee structures and cost recovery, and that requires a very substantial, detailed conversation. I suggest using the term “cost awareness.” People don’t understand the wear and tear on your facilities.
2. Determine your cost. What types of costs are we talking about? Administration of events? Custodial services? Being there to help clean up and set up? There is utility usage from lights, HVAC, water, facility wear and tear, the gym floor, football fields or the auditorium. It doesn’t matter what facility we’re talking about—more foot traffic leads to more wear and tear. There are also supply costs, everything from the paper towels to the toilet paper to the soap being used. The supply costs go hand-in-hand with the custodial services, and those cleaning supplies that are used after the events. I’m sure those joining us today can think of other costs that are involved for managing events and supporting events as well.
3. Establish the fee structure. Most successful districts establish simple fee structures for different types of community groups using facilities. It could be different categories. Is it a school group? Nonprofit? Do they have a lot of students involved? Is it nonprofit but maybe with not a lot of students involved? Is it a community group outside of district boundaries? And then there’s the market rate for commercial groups, for completely for-profit organizations, not tied into the school district at all.
4. Develop a plan for change management. This could be a difficult task, but you want to organize a team to facilitate change, so have your leadership involved. Do they need to be involved day-to-day on this organized team? Perhaps, and I would recommend so. Maybe not everybody needs to be involved, but get key stakeholders involved. Begin with only certain types of rooms, or certain schools. I love the analogy of crawl, walk, run. Maybe start off with the high school that’s being most widely utilized. Now we’re starting to gain support and buy-in, and we can start rolling this out. Allow positive word of mouth to sell the idea. There’s no better marketing effort out there than word of mouth.
5. Collaborate with peers in other departments. I’d even take that outside and collaborate with peers in other districts. Work with peers in departments, network with peers cross-departmentally. Get stakeholders involved from all your support staff: facility, maintenance, energy, IT. Establish that process so that everybody has a voice.
6. Automate the process. This is going to help improve communication. Increase visibility so everybody knows what’s going on, everybody’s being automatically communicated with, and you’re making sure nothing is forgotten, nothing is falling through the cracks. Prevent duplicate entries. I’m sure a lot of us can share stories about double bookings and the nightmares those have created. Notify the right people at the right time. We want to notify that requester for the use of the facilities when everything is completed through the process. Once these events are fully approved and activated, now we are going to notify all the associated parties.
Michael Roche: Our journey with SchoolDude began about four or five years ago. We moved from a paper process to an automated process using Facility Scheduling Direct. We’re a small town in Massachusetts, and we have just under 2,300 students in the district in pre-k through grade 12. We have six buildings that we manage, five of them being schools, one of them being our administration building.
Our average number of days to activate an event had been a struggle for us in the past. We were previously at 14 days, and over the past 12 to 18 months we brought that down to seven days. I’m thrilled to see that we finally have been able to make some progress and put some more automations and some more resources into our program to be able to get these permits processed as quickly as possible.
Dollars per enrollee is the main stat that I always use to show how much money we are recovering, and how much we are realizing and putting back into our facilities. All of that cost comes into your district from this community use.
How do I use data to drive improvement? I run reports constantly to review. Some of them I do annually, some of them I do quarterly. I look at all sorts of different data, whether it be the number of events that have happened, the number of permit requests that came in, how many organizations are renting from us in our different categories. You want to set up your system to have different categories of renters, so that you have a clear understanding of who rents and what policies they are renting under. What do they get charged? What don’t they get charged? What can they use? What can’t they use? I use that information to show the administrators in our school committee how our facilities are being used. It’s important for them to understand the impact that all of this has on our facility.
Then I also use also that information to extrapolate expected revenues, which can be used when you’re planning for the future. What if I change the fee for my high school auditorium, which is our biggest cost recovery tool? If I change that rental fee, what do I expect—based off of past data—that to do to our revenue? I re-examine our fee structures every single year. That doesn’t mean we make changes every year, but I always take a look at it.
To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit: www.districtadministration.com/ws110717