ymca of greater houston PMA case study

About the YMCA of Greater Houston

For over 125 years, the YMCA of Greater Houston has been serving the Houston area through its 36 YMCA facilities, one overnight camp and hundreds of program sites. With the Houston area boasting a population of 6.8 million people, YMCA of Greater Houston serves a geographical area larger than the state of New Jersey and a population greater than that of the state of Tennessee.

 Membership includes 70,000 families, or 200,000 individuals, while programs reach an additional 500,000 individuals through after-school programs, resident camp and day camps, youth and adult sports, and swim lessons.

 Additional programs include group exercise classes, personal training, family fitness, preschool, teen leadership, home school programs, parents’ night out, and community programs, such as diabetes prevention, kids’ health, and much more.

Challenge: Expansion and Asset Optimization

As a large and well-respected YMCA association, Greater Houston YMCA is often approached about building new facilities in neighboring communities. Taking on this expansion requires extensive market research related to population density and community growth, and Greater Houston YMCA must determine if there are enough homes to justify the expense.

 In addition, the association had a number of facilities that were not performing as expected.

 “We have YMCAs where we’ve had the building for 20 to 30 years, and the people have changed but the building has not,” said Cesar Silva, senior vice president and CFO, Greater Houston YMCA.

 For example, at one facility, Greater Houston YMCA began seeing less and less children coming through the nursery and had a hunch that fewer families lived in the community compared to years prior. However, without a tool to confirm this information, their hunch remained unconfirmed.

Solution: Digital PMA from Seer Analytics


Results: Validation and Reduced Risk

Having used Seer Analytics' Primary Market Area (PMA) analysis tool at a previous YMCA, Silva was familiar with the capabilities of the product in terms of gathering key demographic data. Greater Houston YMCA ultimately called on Seer Analytics and the Digital PMA tool as part of the association’s asset optimization process.

 The Digital PMA is a powerful spatial analytics tool that helps YMCAs better understand their diverse market areas and the members they serve. It provides leadership with invaluable data to enhance capital planning, marketing, program planning, fundraising and community partnerships.

 “Ten years ago, even five years ago, we would rely on several data points and information from local leadership [to gather all of this information],” said Silva. “Now, we have this unified tool that is user-friendly, relevant and up-to-date on several areas of interest that paints the community with an accurate lens.”

 Using the Digital PMA, Greater Houston YMCA was able to enter the address of its underperforming facilities and view key demographic data for the radius around the location. Information such as median age and household income could be easily viewed and then used to tailor programs to the facility’s membership.

 “Based on this information, we are able to change the programs and retrofit the buildings to better serve the membership,” said Silva.

Using the Digital PMA, Greater Houston YMCA confirmed that the lack of attendance at one facility’s nursery was, in fact, due to fewer families living in the area. At another community, it confirmed that the gentrification of the community had completely changed the demographics of the area. While it was once a low-income community, the facility now served a younger demographic with young families and an increased household income.

 “Seer Analytics has helped us validate what we before believed to be true,” said Silva. “Before, we’d try to see which way the wind was blowing, and now we have data to confirm our beliefs.”

 In terms of capital development programs, the Digital PMA has also given Greater Houston YMCA a birds-eye view of new developments being built in the community and population density and growth.

 “We can see that in three years this community will be ready for a new facility, and we can put this against our penetration models,” said Silva. “It’s always a risk when you add a new program or build a new building, but now they are more calculated risks.”

 An added bonus for Greater Houston YMCA is that demographic data provided by the Digital PMA can also be used to create more targeted marketing campaigns. The result: an increase in registration for programs such as swim lessons, senior fitness classes and personal training.

 “If our job is to serve the community, I don’t think there is a better tool [than the Digital PMA] to understand that community,” said Silva. “If you don’t use this tool, you’re really missing out.”