- Martyn Preston, Community Building Team Leader
Stockport Homes was formed in 2005 to manage housing stock on behalf of Stockport Council; we operate as an arm’s length management organisation (ALMO), managing 12,500 properties in addition to 10 community buildings on behalf of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council.
Stockport Homes is part of Stockport Homes Group , which includes a construction and property management services company, as well as a development company and a charitable arm called ‘Foundations Stockport’ which works to alleviate poverty and improve the lives of people in Stockport. We are dedicated to fulfilling the needs of local communities; including the day-to-day management of community centres, who have a diverse range of users, from local community groups, multiple fitness and exercise classes, access to training providers, library and ICT facilities, local pantries, police and advice services including the credit union, and other health professionals
Over the past four years, we have been managing the lettings of the community buildings on a day-to-day basis with Microsoft Office. All bookings including financial processes were dealt with via a third party system. The process and systems were inefficient, time intensive and susceptible to errors, prompting complaints regarding bookings and invoicing.
It was critical, therefore, to find a newer platform to properly facilitate the management of the community buildings. We identified a number of different systems, and chose Kajima Community’s BookingsPlus as this was the only online platform that ticked all the boxes we required, in addition to boxes we didn’t even know we were looking for. The system went live in April 2018 after a thorough implementation handover by the BookingsPlus team, which ensured a seamless transition from the previous system. The team at Kajima Community were incredibly helpful and knowledgeable at every stage, particularly at the beginning where there was a huge amount of administration associated with customer details. I found Kajima were always there to assist and answer any questions, taking a considerable weight off our shoulders.
The significant advantage of the BookingsPlus system is the ease at which online payments can be made, as we previously had to chase payments and use cheques. The platform is also a secure way of holding client information such as DBS checks and public liability insurance under GDPR. This security is crucial to Stockport Homes as we are a part of a local authority and deal with public estate data.
With BookingsPlus, accessing relevant documents, files and bookings is effortless as information can be easily shared across services. This now enables the accounts team to access all invoice information swiftly without having to trawl through a mismatch of documents. This is helped by the fact that the whole system is now in-house within Stockport Homes, so documents do not need to be sent off to a third party – saving time and administrative hours.
The platform is also popular with our customers – all groups and individuals can now book themselves in through the system instantly and quickly access records of bookings through their mobile or computer. Customers no longer have to wait for a letter of confirmation, and the invoices are clear so the customer knows exactly what they are paying for. The efficiency of BookingsPlus has helped secure regular customers and strengthen relationships with existing hirers, such as the local schools and sports clubs, who fully trust the system in place. The integrated website provided by the platform has also been a valuable marketing tool for advertising and sourcing new customers.
Recently, we have aligned our website with the data from Google Analytics, which has allowed our team to see where there is most interest for hiring out the facilities. In addition the system is being used to manage Cornerstone, Stockport Homes Group headquarters with rooms available to book for local and corporate events and activities
The team at Kajima have contributed greatly in helping us achieve these goals – the platform has been a great success for Stockport Homes and the ongoing management of our community centres.