This case study was compiled as part of the BIG Assist programme.
Energize transitioned from being part of the local council to becoming a limited company in the summer of 2012 and within a year had tripled the head count of both its trustees and staff.
- A lot had been done to ensure that we had a clear approach to delivering and growing the business. Inevitably there were new ideas and the local landscape for sport and physical activity was also changing quite dramatically.
- In early 2013 we recruited new trustees with fresh ideas.
- In their annual appraisals some of the staff were beginning to express a desire to develop their roles.
- The chief executive had heard positive things from county sports partnerships that had benefitted from our work and so a plan was formed.
The issues we faced
Traditionally county sports partnerships had worked predominantly with sporting partners, ie the national governing sports bodies, local authority leisure departments, local community sports clubs, and the like.
Energize was no different but it was becoming increasingly clear that if we were going to make more of a difference to local participation rates we were going to have to extend our reach.
As a newly formed charitable company, with a strategic role, we were becoming more engaged with our local community, and the voluntary sector, in addition to being recognised by public health agencies. But it was clear that we needed to deploy a variety of communication styles suited to these different audiences.
Like all voluntary organisations we are also being challenged to look at new sources of income to sustain our business and expand into new markets.
The actions we took
We mapped out the process, knowing it would be important to involve our newly formed board of trustees and engage our enthusiastic team of managers and staff. We drafted a nine month project plan and developed a new business and marketing strategy.
But we didn’t just employ them and leave them to it. Our part time marketing and communications manager worked with them throughout the project to ensure that what came out of the work could be delivered.
We also factored in research and consultation with stakeholders – those we have traditionally worked with and organisations we hoped to work with in the future.
- An annual awards evening with over 200 attendees which we used to consult with our stakeholders and hear really useful information which has informed our rebranding.
- We spent a number of team meetings considering our values, and how we live them, which I think really helped us all to consider our approach to customers. Particularly staff had a considerable input into our brand promise, ‘to help people find something that makes their heart beat faster’. I have already experienced staff using the phrase with potential customers.
- In January we had a board and staff away day and staff team meetings where we conducted a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis and considered new business ideas presented Dragons’ Den style to the board.
We didn’t have a great response to our public engagement – we learnt that if we are to improve engagement we need more focussed approaches, targeted through specific communication channels, with appropriate styles.
Up to speed
Towards the end of the project we also had some staff transition – nothing to do with the project and all very positive in one sense but it did create some challenges for newcomers who had to quickly get up to speed. We have included further team business planning sessions to address this.
We still have a long way to go but already we have been successful with:
- winning funding alongside some non-traditional voluntary sector partners to enable people with a disability in Shropshire to access recreational activities
- interesting public health departments in working with us as they recognise our focus on delivering wider outcomes.
- I have already been asked by people about how they might become an Energize trustee.
I think confidence within the team has also grown. Staff are much clearer about how we as an organisation are planning to grow to make an even bigger difference. Evidence of this was highlighted when a manager nominated Energize for a local business award and we were shortlisted as a finalist.
It’s been a really positive (although challenging at times) experience. It’s really helped us as an organisation to take that next step.