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The Skating School of Springfield:

Communication Audit

Prepared by MSU COM 336: Communication in Organizations


Prepared for Figure Skating Director Jolyn Hecht
December 10, 2015

INDEX
Overview

Communication with the Director

Communication between Families and Coaches

Social Media

11

Scheduling and Logistics

15

Parental Education

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OVERVIEW
Students from an organizational communication course offered at Missouri State University
partnered with The Skating School of Springfield to identify strengths and weaknesses of
communication within in the program. Currently, the skating school offers Snowplow Sam 1-3,
Basic 1-8 and Freestyle 1-6 courses in eight week sessions that meet Tuesdays, Thursdays and
Saturdays. The program also offers two power and edge courses and an off-ice training course
that were not included in this analysis. The courses are taught by a coaching staff of six. The
program is managed by the figure skating director at Mediacom Ice Park which is part of the
Springfield Greene County Park Board.
Three types of data were collected. Initially, observations were conducted over a two week
period that incorporated each day that skating classes were offered. This data collection took
place at the beginning of an eight week session of the program. These observations notes were
written up and disseminated to all researchers before moving onto the second phase of the
project. In the second phase of this project, interviews were conducted with coaches and
families during the fourth week of classes. A total of thirty interviews were conducted. Each
interview lasted approximately ten minutes. Once interviews were completed, the interviews
were transcribed and then disseminated to all researchers. The final phase of research consisted
of gathering survey data during the fifth week of classes. Forty-one surveys were collected
containing information on forty nine skaters. Ms. Hecht reported that eighty-five students were
enrolled in this session of the program. The survey had a 58% completion rate.
After reviewing the observation notes, interview transcripts and survey data the research team
identified five major areas within the program that had both strengths and weaknesses. These
areas were communication between families and coaches, communication between the director
and families, logistics/scheduling, social media and parental education on skating.

COMMUNICATION WITH THE DIRECTOR OF THE


SPRINGFIELD SKATING SCHOOL
Strengths in Communication with Director
The Skating School of Springfield families indicate positive communication overall with the
skating school director. Common themes that emerged from the data include increased
communication from the director and the approachability of the director. The following data
supports these positive interactions.

Increased Communication
The current figure skating director has been in that position less than a year. One aspect of this
research was to look at whether or not the change in management has changed communication
with participants in the skate school program. As a result of the research, it is indicated that the
change of the The Skating School of Springfield director has resulted in a positive increase in
communication from the director to the parents of skaters.
Since the change in directors, one parent explained that There is a lot more communication. The
new person is a lot more engaged. She's a lot more excited about it and brings energy to it. And
getting a lot more people to sign up.
Another also discussed the communication between the director and parents, stating that the
communication since Jolyns took over, its a lot better. She sends out emails to let you know
whats going on ahead of time. It doesnt just show up one day and youre like Oh should I do
that? Should I sign up for that? She explains things really well.
One parent believes that information is now relayed more frequently, more timely, and probably
more detailed while another stated Joylns really good about emailing, texting
When asked if they could tell a difference in communication from the Skating School of
Springfield since Jolyn became director, one parent responded, Yes, and I can tell a difference.
Now there are a lot more channels of communication and its much easier to ask someone if I
have questions since I dont have a figure skating background its very comfortable to go to
Jolyn or some of the other skating parents here in the program.

Approachability of the Director


Parents of skaters in the Springfield Skating School cite the approachability of the director as a
strength of skating school. In an open-ended question regarding the strengths of the Springfield
Skating School, five responses directly indicated that the director was a strength of the skating
school. These responses included key words and phrases regarding the director as nice, good
communication, great, and very responsive. Additionally, one response stated, The
director is working hard to grow the program and offer more opportunities to the skaters.
One parent discussed changes in communication at the Skate School since Jolyn became the
Skating School of Springfield director, stating, Its gotten better. Jolyns awesome, shes great to
work with, and shes really really communicative and she gets back to me and I feel like she
waves at me at a personal level when I come in the door and it definitely feels more like a family
atmosphere around here and it feels like I can ask her anything about skating and Im not putting
anyone out or anything like that, so yeah.
Another parent mentioned that When we started we were under the previous director and never
received any communication between parents and staff. But the new director does communicate
via email and you can stop and ask her questions anytime and she will answer just about
anything.
Another parent cited the director as their primary resource when wanting to contact someone at
the skating rink. I have Jolyns cell phone number and shes very accessible and I have her
email as well and shes always been very responsive. Yet another parent stated, Its very
comfortable to go to Jolyn.
The surveys contained twelve questions that are designed to test source credibility. From the
surveys collected, there were significant results indicating the overall positive feelings about the
director. This survey allowed for participants to circle the number that best represented their
feelings about the director. Numbers 1 and 7 indicated a very strong feeling and the numbers
between indicated weaker or undecided feelings. The following graph displays the very strong
feelings indicated on the survey responses.

Feelings about the Director

Number of Responses

40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0

Positive Feeling
Negative Feeling

Feelings

Overall, the interview and survey data collected indicates a generally positive perspective of and
feelings toward the director. Both the increase in communication from the director and the
accessibility and approachability of the director results in positive communication from the
director and between the director and the skating school parents.

Weaknesses in Communication with Director


Throughout the research, the feedback that was received from parents of skaters was
overwhelmingly positive. In regards to communication with the director of the Springfield
Skating School, there were no notable comments that pointed out any weaknesses in the
directors communication approach. It is important to note, however, that multiple parents did
indicate that they were not acquainted with the director and/or they were not familiar with the
position and the role that it serves for the parents and skaters as a part of the overall organization.
This lack of awareness could potentially lead to miscommunications and uncertainty in the future
if parents do not know how or who to get ahold of when a situation may arise or when they
require information about upcoming events, lessons, or other situations or events.

Recommendation for Improving Communication


After analyzing the survey responses, it was apparent that those at the Springfield Skating School
would prefer to communicate with the figure skating director through email. Of the 41 responses
collected, 30 responses indicated email as the preferred method.
There were many open-ended responses that resulted in indications that parents at the skating
school would like to see continued, and even increased, email communication. One parent stated
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that if a class time were to be dropped or changed, email would be great for receiving that
information. Another parent stated, Jolyn does a monthly email that helps. She tells everyone
whats going on.
It is our recommendation that Jolyn Hecht continue to send out information emails as well as
newsletters. Because parents indicated positive feelings and comments toward the director, it is
also recommended to continue the personable, accessible approach with parents of the skate
school.

COMMUNICATION BETWEEN COACHES AND


FAMILIES AT THE SKATING SCHOOL OF
SPRINGFIELD
Communication between the parents of the skating school and coaches is important to the overall
function of the skating school. Because of the young age of many of the students, interaction
between parents and coaches is important for the continuation of students at the skating school.
In this section of the communication audit we will identify strengths and weaknesses of the
communication between parents and coaches. We will also provide concrete recommendations
for how this communication can improve.

Strengths in communication
Based on the information gathered from interviews with parents and observations at the skating
school, strengths in the communication with coaches and parents were indicated. These strengths
included:

Communication between parents and coaches is overall very good

Coaches respond in a timely manner when contacted by parents

Coaches are always physically at the rink and approachable if you need to ask them
questions

The coaches make an effort to communicate with parents before and after classes
The same source credibility questions that were used to assess the skating director were also used
to assess communication between the skating coaches and families involved in the skating
school. The survey evaluated participants view of the coaches authoritativeness and character.
The coaches were ranked on a scaled from 1-7 (1 being the least and 7 being the best) on how
they ranked in each area.

7.2
7
6.8
6.6
6.4
6.2
6
5.8
5.6
5.4

Authoritativeness
Character

All the coaches ranked between a 6 and 7 in each category, meaning they were rated very well by
the parents in the categories of authoritativeness and character. The two coaches who ranked the
highest in these categories were Paige Waltrip and Jessica Ward.

Weaknesses in communication
From the information gathered there were also weaknesses in communication with coaches and
parents identified. These weaknesses included:

Coaches seemed rushed when talking to parents in between classes

Not all parents know the names of their childs coach

Not all parents understand the skating terms/language


The weaknesses are small in comparison to the strengths identified in the communication
between parents and coaches. The weaknesses we have identified can be addressed by the
recommendations we have provided below.

Concrete recommendations
Getting to know your childs coach
The most significant problem that we identified in studying the communication between the
coaches and the families is that the parents do not know who their children's coaches are. We
have a few recommendations to fix this reoccurring problem. One recommendation that we have
is that the skate school provides a handout after the first lesson that contains a photo and
information about their child's coach. This would be very helpful to learning about the coaches,
but also would take quite a bit of physical labor. A simpler way to spread this information would
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be by updating the coaching board at the entrance to the rink, and including a short biography
and photo for each coach. Since many parents have free time to spend during lessons, many of
them would be inclined to read this if they were curious about their children's coaches.
Creating a relationship between coaches and parents
In general many parents viewed the coaches as being very rushed between classes, and that it is
difficult to create a relationship with them. Because of this, it seems that there needs to be more
of an emphasis on parent to coach relationships. Obviously, the relationship between the coaches
and their students is strong, but there is almost completely a lack of relationship with the parents.
The emphasis on this relationship building needs to come from the leadership at the skate school.
Many parents also identified that they did not know much about the sport of ice-skating, or the
levels or skills involved. It is our recommendation that Mrs. Hecht considers ways to get the
parents more interactive with the lessons, in order to build their relationships with the coaches
and also learn more about the sport. One possibility would be a "bring your parents to your skate
lesson day". This would be a very fun opportunity for the parents to learn about skating skills,
and also to meet the coaches. While parents can skate during the practice time offered in
between sessions, during observation is was noted that few parents took advantage of this
opportunity. An explicit invitation may encourage these parents to participate.
Positive feedback
The majority of the feedback that we received through our quantitative and qualitative research
was extremely positive. Some of the best reassurance we can give is that if the parents were
aware or who their child's instructor was, they had positive feedback. We know this, because
none of the coaches scored below a 5 average on a scale out of 7. In the qualitative portion
through our interviews, there was a substantial amount of response about the quality of the
coaches. Many of the parents expressed how their children loved the coaches, and were really
happy with their experience so far. These positive experiences are attributed to the coaches,
because they are the ones who create the experiences for the students. Overall, parents were
extremely pleased with the communication from the coaches, and from the skate school as a
whole.

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SOCIAL MEDIA
The researchers conducted interviews and surveys with the parents and participants in the
Springfield Skate School concerning many different aspects, including social media. The
research indicates positive and negative feedback concerning the present social media use by the
school. The following data summarizes the feedback and provides recommendations for
improvement.

Positive Feedback
As we conducted interviews, we found that the current members of the skate school do not
typically rely on social media for information. Most have not sought any social media accounts
by the skate school. When asked whether they had sought information on social media, one
parent said, No, I dont think so. I dont think Ive liked Mediacom Ice Park. Im not sure if
they have a page or not, but if they do, I havent liked it, so I wouldnt see their updates.
Another parent said, No. I think they have a Facebook page, dont they? But we just joined the
Jordan Valley Figure Skating Club and I dont think Ive liked their page yet but I get their
emails and stuff. In both the researchers initial observations of social media and in interviews
with participants in the skate school, the distinctions between The Skating School of Springfield
and the Jordan Valley Figure Skating Club were unclear. At this time, the lack of social media
presence does not seem to hinder any contact or communication with the current client base.
Most people indicated that they prefer other forms of communication, such as email and face to
face interactions.
The interviews and surveys also asked about the use of the park board website. The reviews were
mixed, with some people saying that they could easily find information, while others said the
website is difficult to navigate. Again, most use the website very minimally, though, and prefer
other forms of communication.

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According to the surveys, families preferred to obtain information about the Springfield Skating
School from the sources identified in Table 3.

According to the surveys, families preferred to communicate with the figure skating director,
Jolyn Hecht, from the sources identified in Table 4.

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According to the surveys, families preferred to communicate with the figure skating coaches
from the sources identified in Table 5.

According to the surveys, families learned of the Springfield Skating School from the sources
identified in Table 6.
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Negative Feedback
Although there was positive feedback about the school, there was also some negative feedback.
Current Springfield Skate School members were surveyed and interviewed, and though many do
not care about social media presence, said presence is still vital to recruiting new clientele. The
results also yielded that a majority of current members enjoy using the website, but it is hard to
navigate.
Currently, the Springfield Skate School has little to no social media presence online. One parent
mentioned that there is a Facebook page, but it is never updated. This is indication that people
have sought social media for the school, but have had no luck. Even though social media might
not be vital to the current members, it would still be effective in getting information out to
current members and recruiting new members. There are many, many people in this community
who do not know there is even a rink in Springfield. One parent in the skate school stated, Had I
not been already involved in coming here, I dont know that the information is easy to find,
because there is a lot of people out in Springfield that say, We have an ice rink? So yeah, I can
see where in the general public they dont know about the rink. Increasing social media usage
could help eliminate this issue because people can access the share feature on Facebook or the
retweet feature on Twitter. This will allow people to receive impressions, the number of people
who see the post, of the Springfield Skate School with minimal effort. This, in turn, could
increase enrollment in the school.
Many interviewees have tried using the park board website and found it hard to navigate. One
parent said, Theres been a time or two where I couldnt find what I wanted right off the bat, but
eventually, after navigating, I found it. If the website were more organized and easier to
navigate, then people could access enrollment information more easily.

Recommendations
In order to mitigate the concerns expressed by members of the Springfield Skate School, the
researchers recommend creating both Facebook and Twitter accounts devoted specifically to the
Springfield Skate School. We would advise that each account have at least one update or photo
posted daily. Posts should contain information regarding upcoming events, future enrollment
opportunities, contact information, coaches, as well as photos to grab attention.
Concerns were also expressed about the navigation of the park board website. The researchers
recommend that the Springfield Skate School coordinate with the Springfield Park Board to try
to address this concern. We understand that this issue is not unique to the skate school, and
cannot be primarily addressed as such.

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SCHEDULING
In the initial meeting with the figure skating director, Ms. Hecht expressed that the skating
school was interested in looking at the participants satisfaction with the scheduling that the skate
school currently offers. In order to accommodate the goals expressed by Ms. Hecht, the class
developed specific questions within the interviews and surveys that aimed to determine
participant satisfaction at the day of week and time of day that the Learn to Skate Program is
offered.

Time
Day of the Week
One of the questions in the survey asked participants what day of the week would work best for
them when taking lessons at the Springfield Skating School. None of the respondents showed
interest in Sunday lessons, two indicated that Mondays would work best for them, eleven noted
that Tuesdays work best for them, five specified that Wednesday lessons would work best and
seven showed interest in Thursday lessons, while no one showed interest in Friday lessons.
Saturday was the most popular day, with fifteen participants showing interest in lessons on this
day. The data from this this demonstrated that Tuesday and Saturday are the most popular day of
the week for skate lessons among those surveyed.

What day of the week would work best for your skate lessons?
Monday; 5%
Saturday; 38%Tuesday; 28%
Wednesday; 13%
Thursday; 18%

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Time of Day
One of the questions in the survey asked which session of the Springfield Skating School the
families currently attend. Eight of the respondents indicated that they currently attend the
Tuesday sessions from 5:15-5:45 p.m., and five respondents attend the Tuesday sessions from
6:00-6:30 p.m. On Thursdays, nine of the respondents have a session from 5:15-5:45 p.m., and
eight of the participants go to their session from 6:00-6:30 p.m. Saturdays appear to have the
highest attendance with nine participants attending the 11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. session, and ten
participants attending the 12:15-12:45 p.m. session.

Which session of the Springfield Skating School do you currently attend?


Tuesdays 5:15-5:45 Tuesdays 6:00-6:30
p.m.
p.m.

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Thursdays 5:15-5:45 Thursdays 6:00-6:30


p.m.
p.m.
Saturdays 11:3012:00 p.m.

Saturdays 12:1512:45 p.m.

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Another question pertaining to the scheduling and logistics of the Springfield Skate School asks
whether or not the current dates and times offered work well for the participants. Thirty-nine of
the respondents responded indicated yes, the dates and times classes are offered do work well
for them. Only one respondent indicated no, the dates and times do not currently work well
with their schedule.

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Do the current dates and times that1 classes are offered work well for you?
Yes
No

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When asked what time of day works best for the participants skate lessons, the respondents were
given the choices of early morning, mid-morning, afternoon, and night. Only one of the
respondents indicated that early morning worked best for them, with seven people following
close behind in their specification of mid-morning. In contrast, thirteen respondents prefer
skate lessons in the afternoon, and twenty-four marked that night works best for their lessons.
Through the data, it is evident that more skaters prefer to have their lessons in the afternoons and
at night versus in the morning

What time of day works best for your skate lessons?


1
7
Early Morning
Mid-morning
Afternoon
Night
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13

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FAMILY GOALS
Through research and discussion with the figure skating director, Ms. Jolyn Hecht, it became
clear that the cost of figure skating rises significantly depending on the goals of the skater.
Skating for recreation, for instance, comes at a lower cost, whereas competitive skating becomes
a much larger financial commitment. Communication with Ms. Hecht revealed a concern for
how the goals of families in the Learn to Skate program align with the costs of the figure skating
program. Ms. Hecht was interested in knowing if parents had realistic goals for the amount of
money they were willing to devote to figure skating. It was her belief that this could help
determine the likelihood of skaters continuing in the sport. In this section, research looks at the
financial commitments families look at with the skate school as well as the goals they have set
for their skater.
Cost
The price of the skate school did not seem to come up often during interviews, which could lead
one to believe that it is currently an affordable program. In one of the interviews, a parent new to
the program stated:
I mean its 90 dollars or whatever, but I spend more than that in basketball running back and
forth and door fees getting myself in and out to watch them play somewhere
This participant also has five girls that are all participating in different sports. Despite this, the
interviewee feels the skating school is more cost effective. This could change, since the family is
fairly new to skating, and there hasnt been purchase of any equipment, but as of now the
program seems to be pleasing cost wise.
While this participant had good things to say about the cost of the program, another participant
had an issue not with cost, but the payment method. While this doesnt directly deal with cost
itself, it was a complaint that the payment system was complicated and unconventional. The
participant suggested an online method of payment versus one having to stop by to make the
payment for every lesson.
Besides this, the interviews were not extremely revealing in regard to the cost of the program.
The surveys had a question in regards to the price participants are paying for the skating school
program, and what the participants would be comfortable paying if prices were to increase.
These questions are relevant, because it allows Ms. Hecht to see if her prices are too high, or if
there is profit to be made. The results indicated that the majority of the participants are currently
investing about 50-99 dollars monthly into skating. In regards to what people would be willing to
pay, there were more people willing to pay around 100-200 dollars monthly. This indicates that
the information found in the interviews correlates to what was found within the surveys. This
information could be used in the future as a reference for changing prices.

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Cost Expectations
30
25
20
15
10
5
0

$50-99

$100- 200

$201- 300

Currently Spending

$301- 400

$500+

Column1

Expectations for Child


Goals for Childs Learning
Goals for the childrens learning came up in the survey. In the interview asking parents what the
most important goal for their childs learning, 13 parents said that they would like for their
children to just skate recreationally. Ten parents responded
saying that the most important thing is for their child to pursue skating competitively. Four
parents said they are not sure what their child would like to do yet, and two parents said they
would like to see improvement in skill.
If a child is seen to be struggling with the basics, perhaps extra practice during the free skate
hours should be factored in by the parents. Each child should express interest in the skating
school and their weekly lessons. Without desire and passion to learn, a child is not going to be
receptive to the lessons.

Plans for Continuing at the Skating School


In regards to continuing education the skating school, the survey showed that twelve parents said
that they would like to continue at the school if their child keeps enjoying it/having fun. Five
parents said that as long as their child is learning new things and continues to show interest that
they will keep their kid in the skating school. Four parents said they would continue if it fits their
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schedules. Three said they would continue if they kept seeing improvements. Three parents said
they would continue if the child likes the coach and staff. And one parent said that the most
important thing was affordability. Creating opportunities for parents and families of skating
school students to engage and form relationships with other parents and families would create a
desire to continue at the skating school because of the sense of community that this would create.
Perhaps an open house event to learn about what their child is doing in the skating school would
be beneficial.

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PARENTAL EDUCATION
Student researchers used observations, interviews and surveys to discover parents opinions
concerning the services and experiences offered by The Skating School of Springfield. With the
data provided we are able to see strengths and weaknesses of the skate school and offer
recommendations that will assist the skating school and its consumers. In addition to the data
collected on The Skating School of Springfield, information was gathered from surrounding
skating programs in terms of programs and what they offered. From the research collected from
the skate school, social media presence can be useful in developing a benchmark for The Skating
School of Springfield.

LACK OF KNOWLEDGE ON ADVANCEMENT


The majority of the parents that were interviewed had no prior knowledge or experience in ice
skating and stated that their childs participation was solely dependent upon their childs desire to
participate. She loves it and keeps improving, all self-driven for her. Shes committed and enjoys
it so much. Once parents received the information to enroll their child in the correct classes,
they have found it difficult to obtain the information that would help their child in advancing
with ice skating. This was repetitive among parents who had a child or children that wished to
pursue ice skating at a competitive level.

Student Skating
30

26

25
20
15

15

11

10
5
0

Participating

Competitive

Recreational

Parents expressed that as long as their child was enjoying their sessions that they had no plan to
discontinue their membership. This raises a concern that some children will want to get involved
competitively and parents have to have the correct information on how do that and meet the
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correct deadlines. Our recommendations are to create a page on the website or a specific website
for the skating school that was specifically targeted for members who desire to compete in ice
skating. It would provide all the how and when and who to contact to help them reach their
goals of pursuing ice skating competitively. Another recommendation would be to set up flyers
where parents could obtain information to help get their child involved more competitively. This
way the information could be reviewed at the ice rink and give the parents the opportunity to
speak with someone face to face who might have experience in competitive ice skating. A good
way for parents to also be aware of competitive ice skating is a get to know you meeting for
parents/director at the beginning of the skate session where an overview of skating is provided.

COMPARISON TO OTHER SKATE SCHOOLS


This section of the audit will serve as a comparison for the Springfield Skating School. Website
services and opinion reviews were looked at to see what other schools offered and how they were
offered. This allowed researchers to see a better form of what parents want and can be a strong
building block for the Springfield Skating School to look at if they choose to upgrade their online
services.

HARDEES ICE COMPLEX


Chesterfield, Missouri offers skating classes as well as hockey classes and free skate
opportunities. Hardees Ice Complex serves the city of Chesterfield and the Saint Louis
metropolitan area. The Hardees Ice Rink skating school does a Learn to Skate program that is
similar to that of the Springfield Skating School. This program includes Snowplow Sam, Basic
Skills 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and Freestyle. One thing that Hardees Ice Complex states on their
website is that there are certain ages for some of the skating classes. The Hardees Ice Complex
website offers a week at a glance section. This portion of their website provides information of
important upcoming events for the upcoming weeks. Information includes what time and what
type of session is being offered and when. This could be a useful tool for Springfield to adopt so
that parents and future members were aware of the events and sessions happening for the current
week as a useful reminder. The website features 18 tabs that relocate the viewer to a different
page concerning what information they desire. This helps limit questions that viewers of the
website will potentially have. It limits the amount of phone calls that the Hardees Ice Complex
receives of simple questions that are easily answered on their website.

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JONES CENTER ICE SKATING RINK


In Springdale, Arkansas the Jones Center Ice Skating Rink has been open for 20 years. The
owner, Bernice Jones, provides a place where people of her community come together for family
fun and recreational purposes. Bernice Jones gave the Jones Center to the Northwest Arkansas
region as a gift in 1995. She created the Jones Center in order to serve families, strengthen the
community, and to make the area a better place to live. The Jones Center offers numerous
programs for people of all ages: Masters Swimming, creative movement, ballet, learn to skate,
Red Cross lifeguard, CPR, first aid training, fitness classes, and open futsal. The Jones Center
website is well organized with every piece of information provided on every time of service
offered, the times they are offered, how much they will cost and how to pay for them. The
website also offers a register now option which allows prospects to have the option to register
for their desired session online. The website is clear and easy to follow. It has a simple guide to
help its viewers determine what they want to find and see and gives them that information and
convenience. When members are ready to skate all they have to do is show up at the rink and
sign in due to majority of the requirements being completed at home and online.

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