Jeff Benjamin, CEO
Each day across the country parents find themselves transporting kids, sometimes hundreds of miles, to sporting events run by not just local recreation departments, but increasingly by private organizations who organize leagues ranging from soccer to dodgeball and everything in between. The trend has gained momentum in the last decade with statistics showing a 55 percent increase in participation in for-profit sports leagues since 2010. That increased demand has put pressure on the limited availability of community spaces run mostly by cities and school districts and funded by taxpayer dollars.
Facilitron’s CEO Jeff Benjamin, father of three active kids, was all too familiar with these activities regularly volunteering to carpool his kids and others to practices and events. But one too many times his group arrived to find another team already practicing and no other fields available. With no one to call, the situation lead Jeff to wonder how public facilities were managed when community organizations came calling. The surprising answer in almost every case was pen and paper. “Not only is the request process pen and paper, but the whole interaction was by almost any measure a nightmare for both the renters and facility owners,” said Benjamin. And Facilitron was born.
Now just four years later, Facilitron has partnered with thousands of schools across the country to help them manage their facility use—both community requests and internal use schedules. The rapid growth is not simply the embrace of a Silicon Valley-style transformational product, but also the result of a unique business model—software, setup, and support at no cost.
Our emphasis is not on just making the data accessible, but to help districts understand the data
Instead of software licensing fees, Facilitron adds nominal service fees to community requests which allows them to support every partner and request with dedicated account managers and 24-hour customer support. “Our business model creates a relationship that’s more like a partnership; we invest in the school district and we support every transaction the whole way,” Benjamin continued. The process begins with Facilitron’s Implementation Team kicking off the partnership by creating a digital catalog of all district facilities including not just athletic facilities, but also the classrooms, cafeterias and auditoriums used by a variety of community groups ranging from churches to educational organizations. The pictures, descriptions, pricing, insurance and more are used to create an online marketplace where the community comes to search and view availability and to make requests to use community facilities – resulting in a better customer experience and reducing the number of inquiries school administrators receive.
Streamlining the facility use request and approval process saves facility administrators valuable time, but Facilitron’s platform is more than a request and scheduling tool. The data it collects is transforming the way schools and cities approach managing their assets, helping them make decisions on utilization, maintenance and the effectiveness of their current policies. “Our emphasis is not on just making the data accessible, but to help districts understand the data. We provide a variety of KPIs that districts can use to start understanding not only what data they need to track but also to comprehend how the application of that data can help them drive change,” explains Benjamin.
In the future, Facilitron is intent on developing more data tools to allow schools to better manage and leverage their assets from more of a business services approach. Without it, public schools, continually asked to do more with less, will continue to struggle to balance the facility use required for school programs and the expectations of access from the community.