The Fort Smith Convention Center plans to step up its game for 2013.
On Friday (June 15), an internal audit was released from Fort Smith city auditor Mitzi Kimbrough that found a number of shortfalls in the operations and management of the convention center.
One standout issue that still exists, which Center Director Tim Seeberg and A&P Executive Director Claude Legris hope to change, is benchmarking.
The center now measures its past revenues and expenses against the previous year, but it does not measure performance against convention centers of comparable size throughout the United States.
For the first time in the facility’s history, that’s about to change. In early 2013, center officials plan participation in a benchmarking survey report from the International Association of Venue Managers, Inc.
The results will show Fort Smith citizens how management for its 40,000 square-foot facility is stacking up against venues of comparable size throughout the country.
“These findings will be used to help us outline operational and financial goals for future years,” reads the audit report.
The report also notes many of the other problems outlined began prior to operational and management transitioning from May 2011 to the present, before the Fort Smith Advertising and Promotion (A&P) Commission assumed responsibility for the center.
Among the deficiencies found, a lack of adequate policies and procedures for the following areas were highlighted: sales and marketing, contract management, invoicing and collecting, inventory, building maintenance, payroll and expenses, and security (both physical and systemic).
The report indicates the Fort Smith Police Department will conduct a security walkthrough on June 30. Center officials will also need to meet with local and regional emergency officials for help in drafting a detailed emergency operation plan by Aug. 31, 2012, as the existing plan “is not detailed enough to handle large scale emergencies.”
The report also found that center officials need “a realistic sales and marketing plan with measurable goals.” Sales directors have no sales incentives in place. The report encourages the use of such, and center officials plan to have modified sales goals ready by July 15, 2012.
As for the 2013 sales and marketing plan, that is due Sept. 15, 2012, and according to the report, terms like “Maximize Revenue” and “seeking out opportunities to present programs about the convention center to…” will need to be scrapped in favor of more specifically stated goals.
On the issue of contract management, the center was also found to be deficient with an estimated 40% of contracts containing no employee signatures. The report also found that in some cases, there was no original documentation of contracts on-file, only facsimiles.
For building maintenance and inventory, the report determined no equipment maintenance or work order plans and procedures were in place, and inventory of items, such as “tables, chairs, etc.,” were informal at best.
Center officials have since responded with a formalized inventory program, while setting a target deadline of Aug. 15, 2012, to work out equipment maintenance and work order policies and procedures.
Payroll and expenses were noted as having “gaps” that center officials have since corrected, with the Director reviewing each department’s budget before approval.
The invoicing and collecting issue regarded the lack of a computerized system of operation despite purchasing EventPro Software in 2007. This issue, the report states, has finally been corrected via full electronic implementation.
Link here a full list of findings and responses on operation and management of the Fort Smith Convention Center.