In business, the term “benchmarking” is largely accepted to mean “a systematic process for comparing business performance or processes in different organizations, or between groups of organizations, to learn whether, and how, things may be done better.” It’s a common practice, and widely-accepted method by which to improve one’s business.

In the sports world, it is relatively easy to benchmark certain figures: attendance, revenue, etc. Attendance, especially, is publicly reported, making in an easy metric for teams to compare against. However, at the end of the day, the means by which an organization achieves, and maintains, high attendance numbers and soaring revenues can be a little more subjective.

Many traditional businesses have KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that measure the components that help teams achieve broader end goals (usually total revenue or number of butts in seats). Business owners track these elements separately, and consequently, are able to determine how each affects the greater outcome.

There are many ways to measure the health of a team. Basing decisions off past performance (i.e., last week’s attendance) may not always be indicative of future success and is, in my opinion, reactive. To be proactive, one must consider metrics that can help give some reliable insight into future performance.

For a sports team, this comes in the form of interaction with their most important stakeholders: fans and ticket buyers. Collecting feedback from those stakeholders allows you to glimpse their intentions moving forward and adjust accordingly. For example, identifying an unhappy season ticket holder before a renewal deadline presents a property the opportunity to amend the relationship prior to the ticket holder’s cancellation (and retain that revenue). Similarly, addressing concerns over parking and traffic flow before they’ve reached a boiling point may reduce the likelihood that fans will choose the couch over the stadium.

Once those issues or concerns are addressed, it is important to take your fans’ temperature again to ensure any changes made were effective. Having a standardized system of collecting feedback is a great way to compare apples to apples, catch problems early on, and address them before they have an impact on attendance/revenue.

Once an organization has its own information on both tangible metrics (i.e., attendance) and more subjective elements (STH satisfaction), the next step is to seeing how that data stacks up to industry standards. For example, let’s say a minor league team increased attendance from 3,000 per game last season to an average of 4,000 per game this season. That’s great! However, if you look at those figures next to a similar team’s average attendance of 5,000 per game, all of a sudden 4,000 may not seem as impressive.

Therein lies the premise of the Surveyor Research Network, which aims to allow properties to have a consistent means of collecting and evaluating feedback from their ticket buyers, providing year-over-year tracking, as well as contextual numbers. Want to learn more? Send me an email and we’ll talk benchmarking!

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