Horsham District Council: Community Link income generation potential

Having secured the LGA Productivity Experts programme funding the council commissioned a review of the Community Link Service. This case study forms part of our productivity experts resource.

Efficiency and income generation

The Community Link Service (CL) had the following original key deliverables:

  • new strategic plan for the analogue to digital switch over
  • full scope including business case for expanding the service to increase client size, technology and services offered and increase generated income.
  • analyse viability and opportunities for working with other surrounding district and boroughs.

Following the initial inception meeting it was agreed that the Peopletoo support could be used most effectively to:

  • develop a high-level growth plan for the community link service
  • develop an outline case for investment in technology to support the effective management and operation of the service
  • support the development of an outline business case for establishing a ‘falls response service’ within the district.

The challenge

The council was looking to identify opportunities available to grow the service, both in number of clients and also in technology offered. The desired result was to maximize income generation by helping to access new technologies as they are bought to market. 

The challenge for the council is how to maximise the income generation from this service whilst delivering a vital service to the most vulnerable members of the community. Aiming to increase the councils 1 per cent of residents in the district to 2 per cent, doubling the impact for partner agencies and income.

The council identified that to do this they would need to expand the service, offering more options for residents and generating more income, explore working with surrounding district and borough councils. Smooth analogue to digital switch over with minimum resident disruption.

The solution

Peopletoo have made several recommendations to enable the service to grow:

  • Improve productivity of Community Link, and release ‘sales capacity, by investing in new IT/CRM system that supports agile [On-site} working and record management
  • Improve scheduling of home visits to cluster/route in order to minimise travel time and optimise productive time. N.B. This may be assisted by new IT system
  • Review alternative digital technologies and consider small-scale pilots to test client opinion, ease of use and commercial potential e.g. digital lifeline pendant; Amazon Echo Dot
  • Invest in hand-held technology to enable Adviser paperwork to be completed on site and link to relevant software systems to reduce double-entry and administration
  • Undertake detailed cost modelling and sensitivity analysis for roll-out of new technologies with additional client numbers
  • Develop referral system/portal for Police, Social Prescribing service and other professionals (as new software system implemented). Consider reporting ‘performance’ of referral sources in Annual Report/feedback to individual sources.
  • Advisers to be given goal of increasing existing sales by one to two new clients/installations per month
  • Increase cross-selling of Community Link Service within the council by:
  1. Promoting CL service alongside Clinical/Assisted Waste Collections, Single Person Council Tax Discount Scheme, GP Leisure Referrals. Include information about CL with relevant paperwork, tick box to ask if client would like more information about CL. In addition, include visual ‘pop-out’ boxes on relevant webpages to link through to CL web pages. Revise scripts for Client Contact Centre staff to prompt question about whether client would like more information about CL when requesting other services
  2. Raise profile of CL offer by attending team meetings within other services, particularly Housing and Communities
  3. Review Planning Weekly List to identify potential new developments aimed at older people/people with disabilities/care homes – target clients for VR service and other technologies
  4. Invest in additional marketing capacity to proactive promote the CL Service, particularly amongst target client base (N.B. there are 2 key audiences to reach target clients – individuals themselves and their families which may require different marketing tactics):
    • Initial ‘one-off’ external support to reposition service
    • Part-time marketing officer (2020) to support proactive promotion of the CL service
  1. Invest in professional branding expertise to reposition CL Service as ‘life enhancer/enabler’ rather than a service for people who are older and less well than me. Include family members as target audience.
  1. Maintain existing marketing activity – presence in council newsletter, videos online, attending professional networks and talking at events. Prioritise Parish Council, Carer and Community Mental Health Services (CAMHS and Adults).
  1. Review potential to diversify offer and pilot new products/services:
  • As HDC CL service
  • In collaboration
  • In partnership with other public sector organisations e.g. falls response service

The impact

We have reviewed our growth aspirations, and are pursuing a target of 3 per cent growth for the installations element of our business, which we consider will be more achievable than original projections. If targets are achieved this will result in the following surplus over the next four years:

2019/20

 

2020/21

2021/22

2022/23

£57,031

 

 £64,935

 £72,839

 £80,742

How is the new approach being sustained?

  • A new CRM system has been specified and we are now in the procurement process. This address many of the recommendations listed as it will also include tablet mobile working.
  • A case is being assessed for an additional marketing role
  • Work with stakeholders in reference to a lifting service have started however it is expected to be a long term project.
  • No Income has been saved or generated at this point however it is anticipated that this will change once recommendations have been implemented.

Lessons learned

Our initial goal of aiming to double the customers we currently reach is too ambitious and not in line with competitors’ growth. The advice of 3 per cent growth aim has been taken.

Contact:

Horsham District Council
Emma Quest, Community Link Service Manager: emma.quest@horsham.gov.uk  

Local Government Association
Helen Hull, Advisor: helen.hull@local.gov.uk