Just outside the capital of Springfield, Missouri, the Nixa Missouri Parks and Recreation serves an active community with a variety of services from camps to classes to parks. Because the general fund is their primary source of funding, they need to have insights and reports into what is happening, especially as it involves money.
And because Missouri is the “Show Me” state, they need to have the information reports at the ready. We caught up with Katie Buford, Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation at Nixa Parks and Recreation to hear how they are addressing the challenges facing their community. With more than a decade of experience with the department and Vermont Systems, she has a wealth of insights for parks and recreation departments of any size.
Q: How long have you been using Vermont Systems and PayTrac?
Buford: We started with Vermont Systems RecTrac in 2010 and added PayTrac in May of 2022. Most recently we have been the beta test for daily settlements.
Q: What made you decide to go with PayTrac?
Buford: We had ◊◊◊ (a competing payment processor) before and something with the communication between RecTrac and ◊◊◊ was causing us to miss transactions — and it was always out at the pool. They would run the card out at the pool, we would get our ◊◊◊ settlement, then the RecTrac daily work, and they wouldn’t match.
The two programs just didn’t communicate. You couldn’t tell whose card it was because there was no name associated — it’s just a point-of-sale transaction. We would have to refund those payments because we didn’t know where they went. We were losing revenue because we couldn’t tell if you went to the pool or if you bought concession items, and we didn’t know how to apply your payment and I don’t know who you are. When they (Vermont Systems) came out with PayTrac we were like, we love all of their other products, we’ll probably love this one too!
Q: What was the PayTrac implementation process like?
Buford: Getting started is super easy. Vermont Systems is great with implementation. They line everything out for you. They tell you exactly what you need to do, what you’re doing, and what you can expect. We switched it over with no problem. When we had the opportunity to go to daily settlements, we did and it’s been great.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you have within your Parks and Rec Department and how does Vermont Systems help you address them?
Buford: We are kind of in the wild, wild west as we like to call it. Our council is really driven by data and wants to know how we’re justifying their money. We don’t have a park sales tax, so we rely on the general fund. Using those reports to say here are all the visits, here are the people we’re serving, this is your demographic area, here’s our service area, here’s why we need out the funding dollars that we’re requesting.
The finance department also loves to question everything. When they say, ‘Hey, where’d this go?’ We can just send a report and say here you go. And they say, ‘oh awesome.’ You can email it to them and you can tell them everything, but until they see it in a nice spreadsheet, they don’t love it. So we use a lot of reporting.
Our community is super involved so we use WebTrac for online registration. Patrons love being able to pull up their own childcare statements, register online, that sort of thing. And reservations — we’re all in on that. We pretty much use all functions.
Q: What’s are some of your favorite advantages of Vermont Systems RecTrac?
Buford: The reporting. I really love when you get to provide information requested in a timely and easy read manner. When someone is looking for a subject matter expert—the reporting capabilities of RecTrac help provide that expertise. And I love that you can customize the report. Maybe there’s something that isn’t pertinent to the recipient of the report—you can keep the report to all relevant fields and information. I can easily remove that field where it doesn’t change the data, but I can take that out because it’s not important to what we need.
I also like that there are so many options that you can use the system because of the way that WebTrac and RecTrac are integrated. I love that.
And then probably, the customer service. I really love when I call or email Vermont Systems how quick they’re to get back to me. They’re super nice and they speak “Park World” for me. Sometimes you’ll talk to a software company and they don’t get it. I’ll say, “I know you do it this way, but I really need it to happen like this.” Vermont Systems is great. They’ll say, “let’s figure out how we can get to what you need.”
Learn more about Nixa Parks and Recreation and how Vermont Systems helps them serve their community by downloading the customer success story.