You’re a small business and you want to get more out of your data.The first thing I would recommend, which is maybe not what professionals would like me to say is, don’t go and talk to a professional. So put your business brain on. You know your business. You understand it and I would say step one is, formulate your own theories about your business, that you just instinctively feel are true and then try and look at your data, to see if you have the data to back up that theory. If you don’t have the data, how could you collect it, in a low touch way? If you do have the data, can you then interrogate that data, to try and find patterns?
Why it is the way that it is and play with it. You may get stuck and bogged down and confused, but you’ll still be in a better position to then go and talk to someone, because you can tell them what you’re confused about, what you’re bogged down about. Where as if you go, without any sense of what you have and don’t have, I think it’s very hard for somebody else to help you, because they don’t really know what they’re being asked to do. Small to medium sized businesses don’t always have the in-house resource, to manage the data. Or maybe the budget, to invest in the systems to gather the data, in the first place.
I think long term it absolutely does pay for itself. But I think that, that can be a concern for businesses. Because you can’t, for a while, you can’t stop the traditional forms of marketing and advertising, while you invest in in the kind of software and technology to increase your data, your bank of data. So I think probably the resources, is a concern initially. I think having somebody, or an expert’s opinion is really valuable, as you’re learning it for yourself and sort of going out there to try and bounce your ideas off somebody is quite difficult if you don’t work in a big team.
So that’s where maybe sort of, selecting one or two, sort of really knowledgeable consultants, can be really financially rewarding. But it can seem like an expense initially, when you’re sort of sort of starting the journey. But this system, this our system cost a fraction, of some of the possibly much better systems out there. But it’s ours and we we understand it and it absolutely meets our needs, rather than paying for lots and lots of reports and facilities, that we that we weren’t going to use. There is so much data and that just grows and grows.
So this is where the data management and treating your data as a database that you can interrogate, I suppose, makes the biggest difference to us. Many people I know, running similar attractions, who have more sophisticated systems, which don’t give them the same information we get, because we extract all the data and then we work with it. With our data, we recognised that simply the information we have from our admission system, was very powerful. But our admission system, wouldn’t give us the detail required, to be able to make decisions, business decisions based on that.
So we had one of our staff who did an advanced Excel day course and came back and said the answer is, to stop having all these spreadsheets and simply have a database. So we put all the information into the database, to do with our financials, the transactions at our till points for admissions and the shop. The value of those transactions and then we marry it to, where we put that in something we can interrogate. So we can compare different periods and we can look at our transactions by the hour. We did our whole website and for us our website works almost in a way to manage lots of different functions within the company.
So we’ve built a HR function into that, into the website so we can quite easily, schedule all our guides. So as you imagine this time of year we can have up to 60 different guides, with different availability. So and we use, they feed data into our website and from that we can quite easily create a rota, schedule for the month and for the months ahead.