Centrally located in the heart of Kirkland, Washington lies Kirkland Performance Center (KPC). Established in 1997, the 394-seat theatre was the fruit of a campaign to bring high-quality professional music, theater, and dance to Kirkland’s picturesque downtown, in the hopes of supercharging the local economy. What resulted not only became the onset of the city’s booming economic prosperity, but also a local cultural institution. After ten years, $5.8 million contributed from nearly one thousand donors, and help from hundreds of volunteers and visionary leaders, Kirkland Performance Center was born. It became a central gathering place for people in the community to come together to express themselves creatively, exchange ideas, share culture, and connect with one another.
Today, KPC hosts more than 280 events per year, 40 of which are presented by KPC themselves as part of their season. Ranging from music concerts to theatrical events to film screenings, KPC’s presented offerings reflect the diversity of their community. They even host a “community musical” once a year, seeking non-professional actors and musicians from the surrounding area to put on a show. As a performing arts center, the remainder of their schedule is filled out from renting their space to other parties, both for private and public ticketed events.
Unique Operational Needs
In 2017, Kirkland Performance Center found themselves at a crossroads with their technology. Currently mixing and matching three different ticketing and fundraising systems to try and meet their unique needs as a performing arts center, the KPC team found that these systems were actually creating more business problems than they were solving. The performance center didn’t fit the mold of any one system they were using, and at the same time, none of the systems could meet the level of customization they needed to operate efficiently. This manifested itself in stalled growth and a precarious challenge for the organization.
When hosting the volume and variety of events that Kirkland Performance Center does each year, being able to effectively track box office sales, donations, and rental fees is crucial to the financial health of their organization. Striving to make more data-driven decisions about their business, the KPC team continually found themselves let down by their trifecta of technology partners. Having their data dispersed across three different systems that didn’t communicate with one another made pulling even the most simple reports challenging. “It got to a point where it was so difficult trying to reconcile three sets of data that I just wouldn’t even pull reports unless I desperately needed something,” said David Bander, Kirkland Performance Center’s Managing Director.
This lack of reporting functionality also made the sending of targeted marketing and fundraising campaigns a challenge. With so many different event offerings, KPC found themselves in the unique position of having a wide patron base spanning low-income families to high-income single adults. Wanting to segment their patrons accordingly, the KPC team again found themselves unable to pull reliable data in an efficient way. “Trying to look up a patron who was both a first-time attendee, and not subscribed to our mailing list would take an entire day,” said Bander. “With every patron lookup, it became more and more obvious we needed one unified system to host all our data so we could pull meaningful and accurate reports in a timely manner.”
Kirkland’s small, but mighty eight-person staff is housed across their building in two different areas, forcing them to rely on technology for all interdepartmental communications. With no easy staff collaboration or tracking tools on any of their systems, the Kirkland Performance Center team found themselves buried in staff emails, constantly digging through various chains to find important information. “Whenever I had to look up something we needed to do for a specific patron, I would log in to Outlook, type in the patron’s name, and subsequently scroll through hundreds of internal emails,” Bander shared. “It was less than efficient, but we didn’t have another option.”
This, coupled with a lack of an up-to-date knowledge base, made the continued education of established team members and onboarding of new staff a difficult task. “Training was made up of reviewing portions of our systems as they came up,” said Anna Espe, Kirkland Performance Center’s Box Office Manager, “and with the box office, some things only come up maybe once or twice a season, so it was hard to prepare new employees for that.” This left new team members struggling long after their training was complete, and took even more time away from veteran employees who had to assist them. KPC was ready for a system that acted as more of a bridge, rather than a barrier, when it came to staff communication and collaboration.
With such a large portion of their revenue coming in from the rental of their space, Kirkland Performance Center desperately needed a system with the capability to keep track of event scheduling and all associated financials. Prior ticketing partners had no functionality to manage this information, so the Kirkland team found themselves resorting to manual data entry that was prone to human error. “Our rental scheduling and financial tracking used to be done with Excel and literal physical paper,” Bander said, then laughed. “I can’t even really remember exactly how we did it, because it was so ridiculous.” While funny in hindsight, their manual system of rental tracking was unsustainable, and the team knew they needed to improve efficiency all around.
A Tailored Solution
With their current technology becoming a hindrance to the growth of their organization, KPC set out to find a more malleable solution for their unique needs as a performing arts center. Having been tangentially aware of PatronManger for some time from other successful arts organizations, Kirkland was intrigued by its growing presence in the industry. Far more customizable than any of their current systems, but not so intimidating that it couldn’t be managed by a small staff, PatronManager seemed like it would be a great fit for Kirkland’s needs. Now, a few years later, the system has proven itself time and time again. “Between the customization that’s possible on the Salesforce platform, and the robust feature set that PatronManager offered right ‘out of the box,’ it really was a perfect marriage for Kirkland Performance Center,” Bander said.
By choosing a powerful CRM solution, Kirkland Performance Center bid farewell to the days of multiple systems and dispersed data. This was especially meaningful when it came to the efficiency of their reporting needs. Using PatronManager’s CRM Snapshot and Report Builder tools, the KPC team finally had the ability to pull highly segmented swatches of data in minutes. “We’re spending less time doing office tasks and more time focusing on patrons and donors,” Bander said. “We no longer need to spend hours running reports in three different systems, and then deduping them to figure out if a patron in one system is the same patron in another.”
With their newfound reporting abilities, Kirkland Performance Center has even created custom Dashboards unique to their organization. These visual representations of important data points allow the KPC team to easily keep tabs on key metrics with up-to-the-second updates on their main PatronManager views. “The first thing I do each morning is refresh and check my Dashboards,” said Bander. “If something jumps out, good or bad, I can immediately reach out to the appropriate department to resolve the item quickly.”
But PatronManager’s robust reporting tools haven’t just helped give KPC a 360-degree picture of everything going on in their organization. It has also helped curb ticket reselling, an ongoing problem in the live event industry. Espe shared, “I’ve created a custom report that looks for abnormally large ticket purchases outside of our state. This has helped cut down on scalpers, particularly those targeting our older patrons who might not be able to tell the difference between our site and a dummy resale site.” These reports are especially useful during big on sales, as Kirkland Performance Center is now able to better protect their ticket inventory, ensuring only people who actually want to come to events are the ones securing tickets.
Convenient Communication Tools
Though still disseminated physically within their building, the Kirkland team has never functioned more efficiently! PatronManager’s Chatter feature, with its social media style interface interwoven throughout the system, has played a huge role in making sure every staff member is on the same page. “The Chatter feature — I love it so much,” said Espe. “Instead of sending a bunch of emails and having to keep track of them, I can simply tag whoever needs to be notified of a situation, and they’re instantly made aware!”
Maintaining patron histories, too, has become a breeze. “With PatronManager, everything involving our business is now centrally located. If I need to do something for a specific patron, I can just pull up the patron’s record, and all the information is right there,” said Bander. This has been especially helpful in cutting down on repeat conversations with patrons at the box office. The KPC staff can easily make notes directly on a contact or ticket record, so there are no knowledge disparities if a patron speaks with multiple box office representatives.
Kirkland Performance Center was also thrilled to find that collaboration far extended outside of their own organization with PatronManager, as their client community has proved to be an invaluable resource and support system. “I’m proud to say I’m a PatronManager Certified Admin,” Bander said. “I’ve gone to various PatronManager Community Training events over the last three years, and every time I come back with a notebook full of great ideas for our organization.” Outside of training events, Kirkland utilizes the online client community to help onboard new employees comprehensively, and further their understanding of the system’s robust features.
Able to be tailored to their unique needs as a performing arts center, PatronManager offered KPC the functionality needed to manage their facility rentals and all associated financials with an add-on Facilities Rental Management app. “Now, it’s so easy to see if we’ve received a contract or deposit, because all the information is in one place,” said Bander. “I’ve got lists set up for completed events and events in progress, so I can easily keep track of everything. No more Excel, no more bulk paper, no more hassle.”
This added functionality has streamlined the facility rental experience on the renters’ end as well. With online rental request forms and the ability to make payments online, what was once inconvenient for both parties is now a seamless affair. By allowing for a simplified process of rental scheduling, invoicing, and managing contract details, PatronManager has completely overhauled Kirkland’s rental operation, making things easier for staff and renters alike.
PatronManager Delivers Results
- 174% Increase in overall ticketing income since adopting PatronManager
- 35% Increased contributed income from individual donations since adopting PatronManager
- 255+ Facility rentals processed since adopting PatronManager
The Trusted CRM and Ticketing Solution for Arts, Culture, & Live Event Organizations
As Kirkland Performance Center continues to provide a space for their community to come together and connect through performances and shared experience, they’ll continue to look to PatronManager as their trusted technology partner. With all of their data on one unified CRM system customized to meet their unique needs as a performing arts center, KPC has been able to facilitate growth in all areas of their business, ensuring the organization’s longevity for years to come.
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