Tag Archives: website

Performance Management and your YMCA Program Directors

Attention:  Our Blog has been transferred to our new website.  Our new website will go live late next week.  We are excited to present it to you and all our clients. Back to the YMCA…

Does your Fitness, Aquatics, Youth, Camps, Special Programs, etc have a tendency to end up in their own silo’s? In many Y’s these program directors tend to get bogged down in their own world and do not see the other departments around them.  Break free and Climb Higher!

Side Note:  In a larger YMCA (even with a single location) the importance of a Chief Operating Officer is critical for managing performance and communications across the program boundaries.

Performance Management aligns the actions and plans of program departments to that of the CEO and Board’s Strategic Plan.  And provides performance measures, systems of accountability, communications, and how to manage the process to achieve the strategic objectives of the Y.

Many organizations do not review the foundation and structure of their Y before creating a strategic plan.  Once they try to execute a strategic plan they discover that the organization structure does not support the plan needs and demands.  The plan must be built on the strengths of the organization structure.  Many times we adjust the organization structure for maximum performance, THEN design the plan, THEN guide our clients through successfully executing the plan, and THEN complete the objectives successfully.

Performance Management will help to better communication in your organization, increase production, boost member satisfaction and solidify teamwork.

If you are interested in speaking with us about our Performance Management system and how it provides your YMCA with a break-through method for managing and executing, please email us at:  info@theoctopussolution.com

YMCA Happy Members come from Your Welcome Center

ATTENTION:  OUR BLOG MAY BE DOWN TOMORROW (FRIDAY) MORNING FOR SEVERAL HOURS.  Our Amazing Website Developers are Embedding our Blog into our NEW WEBSITE which may cause our Business at your Best Blog to be down.  Our New Website will be going live in the next several days and will have all the content you need!  We are Excited to introduce our new Website to YOU! Back to YMCA’s….

“The single most important thing to remember about any enterprise is that there are no results inside its walls. The result of a business is a satisfied customer.” -Peter Drucker

The employees that deal with your YMCA members the most frequent are the ones that get paid minimum wage, have high turnover, are younger in age, or are not always fully trained.  YOUR WELCOME CENTER.  They “have to” know everything going on in the organization because that is where all members are going to go for information.  That is where all questions are going from inbound phone calls.

Think about the complexity of your program structure and the constantly changing dynamics: Schedules, cancelled classes, pool closings, emergency announcements, and the list goes on.  All of this, the welcome center staff needs to be able to handle.  If the staff can not handle it, it will lead to member confusion, frustration, anger and eventually dissatisfaction with the organizations service.  Then your members leave the YMCA and join another provider.

If the welcome center staff does not know the details of the daily happenings at the YMCA then chaos and mutiny will pursue.  A communication system needs to be built and it must be able to communicate with your members and amongst your employees.

Too many times we have seen frustration and arguments with members and a staff person that “should have known about…”  Fill in the blank.  It is very difficult for staff to be the all-knowing wizards of the YMCA.  However, we can arm the staff with as much information, organized in a method that levels the playing field of communication.

Contact us for our communication and operating method for your YMCA Welcome Center:  info@theoctopussolution.com

Direct Mail Still Works, Some Issue To Consider…

It’s getting more expensive and has a low rate of return but if done correctly it can be a very useful tool.

It has been said that a 2% return on direct mail is considered a success. I do not hold this as being a benchmark for today’s business environment. Too many aspects of business have changed  dramatically for old standby standards to be applicable to today’s marketing strategies.

The first huge adjustment to be made is the influence of the internet which is rapidly replacing direct mail for many marketing programs.

Secondarily the cost is no longer low as it costs us approximately $1.50 to print and mail a typical direct mail piece in an envelope first class mail.

A one sheet mailer without an envelope sent first class will cost approximately $1.00. Thus a basic cost per 1000 is $1000-$1500.

However please keep in mind that the only way to capture the full potential of the mailing list is with multiple mailings. Thus a successful targeted mailing strategy must include a series of mailings to extract the full benefit from the list.

We start with a two page first class mailing in an envelope, followed by calls and faxes or emails if appropriate, then a one sheet mailer, then a postcard reminder. This seems to get the most return for us.

Others use additional mailings, some use all postcards or all on sheets without envelopes, we use all three. The post card ends up costing us about .50 per.

The strategy is heavily influenced by the size of your normal average invoice, and the profitability of the sale. In addition the rest of the marketing plan must also be considered as it’s the whole plan that must work together and be considered together when discussing a single aspect of the plan.

For example, are you trying to educate?  If so, are you driving them to your web site where more information can be disseminated cheaply? Are you setting the stage for a visit or a phone call or an appointment, all to be considered when determining how many mailings, and what they consist of and what your budget may be?

Are you throwing darts at a board randomly or are you pinpointing your market and going right after a specific potential client?

All those factors will help you decide what mailing piece to use and how many to send over what period of time, and when to make the call.

The one thing we have learned, that no matter how good your mailing piece is, it takes many hits to create an impact. The return is always far less than you think it ought to be. Thus you may be wasting good money if you shoot your budget on one mailing and then wait and see what happens. Be prepared to mail again and possibly another time or two sharpening the message and developing the story and of course a call following the mailing is extremely important in most cases.

Humor works, a good story works, testimonials work…, information is usually second in importance.  See what works for you.  Mailings have a definite place in a marketing strategy.  You should evaluate and determine the role a mailing piece has in your overall strategy.  It works, even if its purpose is to simply drive you potential customer to your web site!

However it can be expensive and thus you need to track, monitor and control the effort  and be very careful about how you do it and what return it brings you. If it isn’t working stop it as soon as possible, but remember the need for multiple hits before you see a meaningful response, and the need for a total marketing strategy that is integrated and includes a number of communication tools, so quitting too soon does not work either.

Frequently it is hard to determine what worked other than the customer purchased, so was it the mailing piece, the call, the web site, or the visit. However a close analysis will reveal the roll each component played.

In the right place and with the right strategy a direct mailing strategy can be very successful and an important part of an overall marketing campaign.

I have a client who spends a small fortune on direct mail, with each piece being lavishly made, printed and produced, usually including a gift of some sort and always sent special handling or even overnight delivery. Very very expensive, yet its a very targeted and sent to a pre-qualified list and it yields a tremendous return. His product carries a high invoice and a large profit. It works very well for him.

Your mailing program requires a complete strategy based on all the different parameters discussed.  Figure it out.  It can be a very valuable program or a huge waste.

Competition is a Great Thing

Competition keeps the customer happy because they receive the best price, product and service when businesses fight for them.  It also forces individual companies to not remain complacent.  We have worked with many companies that look and feel the same as their competitors and they have taken no steps to differentiate themselves.  Not only that but they do not even know what the competition is doing!

If you ignore the competitive landscape you do so at your demise.  Look at competition as a  great tool to keep you energize and constantly looking at your business and how to improve it.  We all have a competitive nature and applying a good context will give you the momentum to be a better player in the game.

Here are a few things we have our clients look at when analyzing the competition:

  • Competitors Website
  • Branding – new or old, are they spending money on marketing
  • Pricing – are they trying to capture the low, mid, or high level of the market
  • What type of customers do they serve and how are they going after them
  • Where do they do business and how saturated is the market they are playing in
  • Who is running the company and what is he or she like
  • Does your company go after the same type of customers
  • What is their message to customers and how does your business differentiate
  • What is the size of their business compared to yours
  • Who are their suppliers
  • Are their products or services different then yours

These are a just a few of the things to look at.  Remember keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.  Sometimes competition leads to mergers and acquisitions.  You need information to make decisions and not having it is a breech of your duties to your employees, stake-holders and yourself.  Pay attention to the competition and be creative.  Being creative will allow you to think outside the box to deal with what to do and how to do it.  If you have any good stories of competing for business please share them with us!

Pay Attention to Who May Be Marketing Your Company

Marketing is the communication and representation of your brand, company, image, etc to your customers and general public.  What employees in your business are doing the marketing?  And  what controls do you have in place?

The companies we work with are small to mid-size businesses that may or may not have a marketing director.  Regardless of having a marketing director many of the people in the organization are facilitating the marketing.  For example: one business we work for has 7 different people in the company running the marketing in different departments and there are 7 different messages, different images, no consistency in brand management, and very little communication between these departments.  This is a major issue because it is confusing to the customers.  It is very important to protect the brand of a business and put in place controls to ensure there is oversight as to what can and can not be done.

There are many marketing channels that businesses utilize to get the word out:  Social media, events, direct mail, cross promotions, website, media, partnerships, collateral, etc.  All these initiatives need to have final approval and sign off by the most experiences marketing person to ensure controls and consistency of image and message.  If 7 people are running marketing in their own silos without oversight then your brand is getting beat up!  All 7 of those people should have to seek final approval to print, publish, distribute, etc any and all marketing material and projects.

Consistency in Marketing creates security and trust with customers.  How many people can run marketing initiatives in your business without controls in place?

How to Turn Around Your Business In 90 Days or Less!

The major problem every for-profit and non-profit face is holding onto customers. Most of the companies we work with think that they need “marketing” but the reality is they need to keep the customers they already have. If you do not have customers then you are correct, you do need marketing. For the companies who already have an established customer bases you need RETENTION!Once the real problem is recognized it is time to fix it. Every company that realizes they have a customer issue has to try and fix it and everyone does this differently. One company started a Facebook fan page in hopes of trying to connect better with its customers. Another company fixed some old equipment in their fitness area. Lastly, another company started a monthly e-newsletter. So how did each one of these companies do with attempting to fix retention? The results were clear; retention was not fixed and in some cases it actually got worse.

So you ask, how do we fix retention? How do we keep customers coming back for more products and services? Before we reveal the answer, lets define customer retention: according to Wikipedia (not our favorite source but we like this definition) customer retention is, the activity that a selling organization undertakes in order to reduce customer defections. Successful customer retention starts with the first contact an organization has with a customer and continues throughout the entire lifetime of a relationship. A company’s ability to attract and retain new customers, is not only related to its product or services, but strongly related to the way it services its existing customers and the reputation it creates within and across the marketplace. Customer retention is more than giving the customer what they expect; it’s about exceeding their expectations so that they become loyal advocates for your brand.

All the traditional means you may be thinking about will help retention but this is like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. The only way to improve retention is to open the communication lines, pay attention and want to create an environment that is not only ideal for the customer but for the employees as well. Retention fixed by the following ways:

1. Communication– Every organization has communication issues whether its internal, external or both. This issue can cause serious retention issues especially when internal communication between staff and its customers is poor. All management, directors, & staff (part and full time) need a solid communication system where information can travel up the chain of command and down effortlessly so that everyone can function from the same page. Once this happens, you then need to implement external communication strategies to your customers externally. This can be done with an e-newsletter, social media or a website. You need to create “touch points” with a customer so that you are consistently in their presence. In order for an external communication system to be truly effective you must have an internal system in place.

2. Customer Centric Employees– This fancy term actually has many levels of meaning but it starts at the top. The leadership in the organization needs to have a clear goal in mind with real purposes backing each goal and specific steps on how to achieve each goal. These goals, purposes and steps need to be clearly communicated to the entire organization. The entire organization needs a picture of the ideal scene, this will start to shift the culture of the organization. Creating customer centric employees has partly to do with hiring the right people but more importantly it has to do with weeding out the bad and getting them off the bus and retraining the remaining staff. Training your staff is one of the keys to creating the culture you desire. Did you know that the first week of boot camp for the Marines is all about their history? Talk about creating a desired culture. The key part of this step is to not only train your employees but to clearly define their roles and responsibilities. If we could all visualize the desired outcome it becomes easier to reproduce it. The muddier the waters the harder it is to create and train your staff. Why is this so important? Your staff are the ones who are in the most contact with customers and are a direct reflection of your brand. Can you imagine a Marine with a messy uniform? Create the culture in your company that will focus on the customer and taking care of them the right way. If this step cannot be done retention will never be fixed, this step is the major cause of poor retention numbers.

3. Surveys-Surveys are the one tool in your toolbox that will give you the information that you NEED to hear but may not want to hear. The number one mistake that organizations make with surveys is their failure to execute the changes that the majority of your customers are asking for. If you do surveys and do nothing with them your customers as well as employees lose trust in your organization and end up losing loyalty. Survey everyone from your board of directors to your customers to your employees and take the information and really look at it and make necessary changes.

If the above steps are followed and executed retention will change! Good luck and report back the results. It will take about 90 days to see real changes.

The perfect business card

It may seem simple, vain, or even petty, but your business card is the first visual impression of your company that a person sees and reviews.  If that is the case shouldn’t you be bold or different?  Why settle for a nice ivory, flimsy, times new roman, one sided card?  Why not stand out in a crowd?

Having the right blend of information on the card for your type of business is critical.  But more than the information on it, the card must create an impression and be memorable.  If you are not thinking at this level of detail then you better get there quickly because your competition could be.

Our business card is almost as thick as a credit card, with rounded corners and three colors (black, blue, white).  All our marketing material has the same design and soon our 3rd generation website will too (which is being designed by web developers).  Consistency is a must in marketing and everything from your business card, letterhead, and advertisements needs to have some level of consistency to create security and awareness.

We talk about noise and breaking through to people when you present your marketing things to them.  Graphics is a huge part of creating that awareness and standing on in a crowd.  It would be like going into the financial district of Boston at lunch time and walking around wearing a HOT Pink Suit with a bright yellow tie.  You would stand out in any crowd…especially that one and people would come up to you and ask questions.  Are you prepared to be that bold with your marketing?  Can you wear a hot pink suit?  Try it on and you might find that you gain the exposure you are looking for to stand out from your competition and all other distractions!

Here you go…