Can People Counters Prevent Library Budget Cuts?

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  2. 2016
  3. December

prevent library budget cutsLibraries everywhere are competing for fewer financial resources these days, even as their importance to their communities grows. So what can institutions do to prevent library budget cuts and continue to expand and serve their patrons?

Libraries have evolved into more than just a destination for academia and research. They are critical community spaces, serving a wide range of patrons from schoolkids to seniors. A mother might bring in her toddler and pass a rainy afternoon reading books in the children’s room or an out-of-work library patron may faithfully take advantage of the library’s job-hunting resources. The modern library is many things to many people.

The range of important activities mentioned above often aren’t taken into account when many libraries tally visitors, logging patron counts solely based on materials such as books or videos being checked out. By overlooking patrons’ library usage that doesn’t involve taking media home, libraries are missing out on understanding exactly how community members are using their resources.

Many libraries still rely on archaic methods of counting visitors, such as asking an employee to tally each patron who comes in. But it’s easy for staff to become distracted or need to turn their attention to a patron inquiry, which can result in some visitors entering uncounted and yield an inaccurate total. Manual traffic counts are stressful (just ask anyone who has ever done one!) and a waste of your personnel’s time.

To prevent library budget cuts, institutions should utilize people counters to gain accurate insights into how the facility is being used. People-counting data shows patterns of usage over time, helping libraries to identify periods of peak demand as well as times when the volume of visitors is low. In addition, data from people counters can show in black and white the success of a library’s previous programs, which can be useful when trying to secure funding for new initiatives and ideas.

Most libraries are asked about program participant numbers, daily traffic stats and how many people attended the most recent library events when they submit grant proposals. Without hard numbers in hand, it’s often more difficult for libraries to get their proposals funded. With so much at stake, especially as municipalities are hard pressed to allocate dollars resourcefully and judiciously, to prevent library budget cuts be sure your institution has the essential people counting data to back up the funding you’re asking for. Paint a very clear picture for budget decision-makers; after all, it’s hard to argue with numbers and facts.

As libraries evolve from repositories of books and physical media into centers for Internet and technology access, these institution must also embrace the role of technology in advancing their operations and furthering their mission and goals. People counters are a valuable resource that can prevent library budget cuts by demonstrating the institution’s indispensable importance to the community. This technology can be the key difference-maker in getting decision-makers on your side when budget

Use Your People Counting Software to Identify Your 2016 Retail Foot Traffic Trends

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  2. 2016
  3. December

foot traffic trendsWith the close of 2016 upon us, it’s a good time to take a critical look back at how your business performed over the past 12 months and uncover traffic trends that can help you identify opportunities in the year ahead. Your people counting software is a treasure trove of valuable data, brimming with actionable insights that you can apply to your store operations.

The Highlights

In reviewing your year-end data, what stands out as your peak traffic volume for all 12 months? Was it on Black Friday or maybe the days leading up to Mother’s Day? Or perhaps it was just a really successful promotional campaign you happened to run one weekend. Whatever the case, knowing your highlights can help you to replicate those great results going forward.

However, traffic numbers alone only tell half the story. Be sure to evaluate your people counts side-by-side with sales figures and other relevant data, as this will reveal your truly actionable traffic trends. What if, for example, your store got loads of traffic but the sales conversion rate doesn’t quite match up? This could point to a problem with staffing. Perhaps the store didn’t have enough associates on hand to assist customers, leading to lengthy checkout lines, abandoned carts and lost sales opportunities.

To properly right-size your store ops, crunch these numbers regularly — weekly or even daily, if it makes sense — to stay on top of your foot traffic trends and correct any stats that are sliding in the right direction.

Look to Negatives as an Opportunity to Improve

Now that you’ve identified your best traffic trends for 2016, take a look at the opposite: the periods when store visits dipped to the lowest numbers. Maybe it’s not pretty, but you can use this data as an opportunity to turn things around in 2017. Of course, some retail businesses are seasonal by nature or see predictable seasonal trends. Perhaps you can’t change that completely but you can take steps to improve traffic trends.

That could mean running a carefully crafted campaign to drive traffic when visits would otherwise be down to attract customers to your store. Or consider rewarding customers for shopping during off-peak times. This is an opportunity to be creative and think outside the box for ways to drum up traffic and turn your trends around.

Set a Strategy for 2017

Your sole goal for the moment may be trying to survive the hectic holiday season, but don’t miss this opportunity to be strategic about 2017. Instead of simply going along with “business as usual,” use the traffic trends you identified from your people counting software to rethink your operations and marketing efforts next year. Maybe you need to expand your workforce to enhance customer service and keep your conversion rates up. Or perhaps you need to run more promotional campaigns or switch up how displays appear in store for maximum impact.

Whatever the case, now’s the time to use your traffic data and analytical insights to run your store better and smarter in