Leisure Management -Developing Effective Policy for Better Management
Depending on the type of recreational organisation involved, policies may need to be developed in some or all of the following areas:
- Types of Membership - What will be the different categories of membership offered? Will there be discounts for continuing a membership, family discounts, etc. What input will members have in the operation of the business, or will they be treated solely as customers?
- Refunds - A refund policy is important, and must be clearly stated upon the commencement of a membership agreement. For instance, a specific time frame should be indicated for receipt of any or all money and should be made with the "joining" term in mind. For instance, if the person is taking advantage of a short term special, like 60 days for $60.00, there may be no refund available, while a client taking up a 12 month membership may be given 14 days to request a full refund and have no refund available after the initial 14 days.
- Record Keeping - Record keeping is a very large and important part of operating any business. In fact, it can become very burdensome to staff. However, by having a policy of what records are needed and the time frames in which they must be completed, it gives staff an opportunity to organise work loads and rosters suitable to keeping the business up to date. Not all records need to be completed every day, but some will need continual update, such as new memberships, while banking and bookkeeping records may be done once or twice a week, etc.
- Complaints/Grievances (for customers, staff, suppliers) - Make sure that all policies in relation to customer and staff complaints are fair and equitable. While it is always a good policy to put customers first, it is also important, for both ethical and legal reasons, for staff to have a fair say. Having and following a complaints/grievance policy also provides staff guidance when dealing with difficult situations.
- Confidentiality - Depending on the type of facility, a great deal of very personal information may be kept on clients, ranging from salary details to health concerns, injuries and operations, etc. A policy for where this information is kept, persons who have access to it and disciplinary procedures for those who brief confidentiality codes should all be covered.
- Security (e.g. who has access, who has keys, club hours, etc)
- Staff recruitment & training - Recruitment and training are very important issues, and of concern to most staff. A set recruitment procedures should be in place, to ensure that existing staff are considered for promotion, and to ensure that promotion and new staff placement is done based on a fair and non-discriminatory basis. This will not only create a good avenue for staff morale, but also protect the business from breaching equal employment opportunity laws.
Training should be seen as both an induction issue and an ongoing staff issue. A policy of keeping staff up to date on new techniques, both in the recreation arena and in areas of business, sales and customer service is very important.
- First Aid/Safety - Will there be a first aid officer? What is the procedure in an emergency? These are especially important in a recreation facility and should be made a priority in policy planning.
- Customer Service - Saying "the customer always comes first" is a good theme for a business, but it is not a realistic policy. A customer service policy should not only give guidelines as to what services the business will provide, but also what it will not provide and why. It is of little value (and poor service) for staff to answer queries with "it's the company's policy not to allow this..." . Instead, the policy should also outline the reasoning behind the decision, so that staff can inform customers, which is part of what customer service is about.
- Pricing of goods & services
- Handling finances
- Fundraising - All three of these can quite realistically come down to accounting practices, but again, the goal of the facility and what service is desired should also form part of any money related policy. For instance, by accounting standards, a new piece of gymnasium equipment may seem prohibitively expensive. However, if the policy of the company is to have the most up-to-date, modern facilities available and this is what the customer has paid for, then this policy must be weighed into the equation as to whether or not to make the purchase. The same can be said of fundraising activities. What may make good financial sense may not fit in with the overall policies of the enterprise. Renting a hunt club facility to a animal rights group might bring in needed cash, but the publicity and associated problems could far outweigh the monetary benefit in the longer term.
- Use of facilities (e.g. use by non-members, hiring out facilities)
These are just some considerations as to what will and can affect the development of a policy.
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