The following are a few case studies that provide examples of the guidance and leadership that BTF has provided in the following areas:
Issue #1: For several years one association was consistenly loosing money annualy. At the time they had a part-time staff providing member service support 3 half days per week.
Solution: The board decided to look at a different staffing model and choose to work with BTF. By converting from a dedicated staffed office they reduced their annual operating cost and their liabilities. At the same time they gained increased member services by having an AMC team provide headquarters support, increased their membership and marketing efforts, and have been able to refocus their volunteer efforts on program growth versus staff management.
Issue #2: With the economy shift in 2008 we assisted our clients in lowering their expenses, allowing them to continue to operate with a surplus and build their operational reserves.
Solution: During 2009 – 2010 we were able to save one client $127,000 through renegotiating contracts and rebidding service. This savings equated to more than 5% of their annual budget. Areas we concentrated on were:
Annual Conventions (2 per year)
Facility re-negotiations for 2010 – 2013
- Reduced sleeping room rate from $109 per night to $85 per night. This not only saved our attendees money and made our conference more enticing it, it also saved the association over $5,000 on speaker, staff and VIP room charges.
- 2010 All suites comp’d for association - $21,000
- Reduced food cost by 25% - $32,000
- Reduced suite cost for 2011 & 2013 - $8,700
- Waved the rental cost of the exhibit hall - $3,000
- Through Rebidding and hiring a new audio visual company saved on IT costs - $5,000
- Moving venues to save $31,000
- Reduced food and beverage to save $13,000
- Received credit for food and beverage over guaranteed by regional coordinator - $8,300
- Reduced AV cost $5,300
In addition to saving the client money we were directly able to lower our attendee’s cost through these re-negotiations. For our 2010 convention specifically the hotel rate was supposed to be $109 per night based on the original contract signed in 2006. In fall of 2009 we went back and discussed the nightly rate with the hotel and after several calls we were able to get the rate lowered to $85 per night plus tax. This directly saved our attendees $35 per night, with an average nightly stay of 3 nights equating to $105.
As of 2012 we have continued to draw these savings into our contracts and are now contracted for hotel services for this client through 2016.
Increased Revenue/Offset Expenses
Issue: Prior to our relationship with this client they were relying heavily on grants for the revenue. Many of the grants were set to sunset in the three years following the start of our relationship.
Solution: While key contractors and volunteers worked on new grants, we began to work on their event negotiations. Prior to our relationship the client was receiving minimal in concessions on their annual conference. We focused on several key areas
- Rebates - An organization can receive a rebate from the hotel for each room night booked by an attendee. By securing this concession for our client, they increased their annual revenue by over $50,000
- Commission - As a third party booking agent, BTF is able to receive a commission for each room night booked by an attendee. Most of our clients ask us to do this on their behalf and use this to offset service costs. Depending on the year, this revenue offset was between $90,000 - $100,000. Many AMCs talk to association clients stating that commissions are bad or will burn a client. Our opinion is that the stories they hear are stories where a provider was collecting a commission without the clients knowledge - every commission is disclosed and is stated in the contract from the hotel which the client signs - we believe in transparency and full disclosure. We are not trying to hide anything, we are FINDING CREATIVE SOLUTIONS to help our clients!
- Comp nights & Staff rates - This is another key area that our client was not taking full advantage of. They would work with several hotels to establish room blocks providing comp nights and staff rates but instead of being strategic and assigning staff, board, and VIPs at various hotels (most within 2 blocks of one another) they kept everyone only at one hotel and didn't use the comp night credits and staff rates. Since BTF began managing the rooms blocks we have been able to use these credits and save an additional $14,000 in rooming expenses for the client.
Program Restructure & Growth of Operational Reserves
Issue: The organization was running with minimal growth for numerous years and had no operational reserve to fall back on incase of a bad year.
Solution: We lead the board through a program evaluation to determine which programs were providing the members the most value and to determine where the organizations resources were allocated. During this process we illustrated that by condensing our spring and fall conference into an annual educational event we would be able increase or concentrate our resources on one event and take advantage of lowering our fixed costs to increase our return on investment. The chart below tracks the organizations equity. You can see that beginning in 2009 the organization’s equity began to significantly grow and now the board has been able to build an operational reserve, as well as put money into developing a new program.
Issue: In 1992 we discussed management with an association that was unsure how they could pay for professional management services. They were volunteer run and needed additional resources.
Solution: We reviewed their needs and mission and found that there was a great opportunity to get their affiliates or corporate members more involved in the growth of the association, bring much needed products to their individual members and help the affiliates gain the exposure they wanted. We contacted the main exhibitors and affiliate members to discuss their corporate needs and how we could match that with the association’s vision and mission. With this insight we developed a multi-tier comprehensive sponsorship program offering value 365 days a year not solely at the annual convention. Additionally while the sponsor benefits from 365 day marketing, the association’s cash flow is secure as the sponsors must make a three year commitment. In the first year the association’s income from the sponsorship program was equal to our management fee and today brings to the association $300,000 in non-dues revenue. This program has been so successful we have 24% of our affiliate members participating at some level of sponsorship in addition to their membership dues and exhibit space.
Certification / Membership Retention
Issue: The first years this client was with BTF for management was in mid-certification cycle. During the first complete year (2001) for re-certification the organization had re-certification rate of only 73%, showing a decline in the maintenance of certified members.
Solution: Over the past 12 years we have focused on growth and maintenance of the certification program. We have completed four re-certification cycles, worked with the organizations leadership to revise the certification exam twice, revised the code of ethics once, and planned and executed 23 conferences.
In addition to maintaining the certification through application and CEU tracking/processing, we have developed and continue to support the marketing program to promote the credibility of the credential and the importance of upholding the organization’s standards and code of ethics. We have worked with the leadership to develop and publish a brochure on the importance of the credential that members can order as a supplement to their own marketing materials, as well as having worked with volunteers/leaders on industry white papers. Recent marketing efforts have been concentrated on the recruitment of students and market expansion into Canada.
We have developed a comprehensive communication plan to keep our members informed of organizational activities, opportunities to promote credentialing, upcoming events and news in the industry. This plan includes:
- Annually, with our renewal notices, we send a cover letter highlighting what the organization has accomplished in the last year
- Bi-monthly we provide a short e-News that includes industry information and news
- Bi-monthly we highlight a member, their experience, and why the credential is important to them in a Member Profile
- Three times per year we prepare an electronic newsletter that includes industry articles and news updates
- Conduct exit surveys during the 30 day grace period to encourage certificants to renew and explain the process for re-certifying if they choose to let the certification lapse.
Through our administrative and marketing support, current re-certification and or retention rate has increased and is now being maintained between 88 – 91%.
Issue: With a past client, we identified through exit interviews that the association was losing members because many members were not aware of what the association was doing for them.
Solution: During discussions with the membership committee and board of directors a goal was set to provide members more communication of the happenings of the organization in turn making them more aware of the benefits they were indirectly receiving. As the management company we assisted with the development of a content sub-committee, as well as designing an e-News Template that could be used on a monthly basis to brand the newsletter and assist in disseminating the information.
In addition to industry and association news we have begun highlighting members who are active in the industry as a way for our members to get to know one another and grow their resource network. Working with the committee we developed a set of five standard questions that individuals answer. We always publish that members are welcome to submit and be highlighted in our member profile section and we have our committee actively recruiting members who are considered experts or have high visibility in the industry. We now coordinate monthly set up and dissemination of 1 – 2 e-News.
Through this effort the association has seen an increase in volunteer involvement, an increase in attendance at their annual conference and a decrease in lapsed members.
Development of Additional Programs
Issue: Our oldest client of 23 years provides training to the education industry. While their annual state conventions have continued to grow year after year, school budgets have continued to be tightened. Through discussions with attendees we identified that there was a core group of people who wanted additional training other then at the annual conference, but who did not have additional resources.
Solution: It was proposed through strategic planning that the association bring trainings directly to the school sites, eliminating the cost of travel to conferences. From this idea developed leadership development days which would provide a condensed one day site program. In implementation we requested proposals for a coordinator from within the membership who would develop the curriculum. Once this individual was in place, we assisted in developing marketing material and launching the program. After three years the association has not only been able to bring this program to the school sites, but through efficient management the program is also profitable. This program now reaches approximately 5,000 students per year.
Development of the California Association of Student Leaders (CASL)
Issue: In 1997, through strategic planning with one of our clients, it was identified that there was a need for a like organization at the student level of education to handle student leadership training on a peer to peer level. The program would encourage education of both students and teachers to provide a greater harmony of co-curricular activities on campus, in turn enhancing a positive cultural change throughout California schools.
Solution: Through further planning CASL was developed into an organization that was quasi controlled by the student body with adult leadership. As the management company in addition to assisting with brainstorming we coordinated the legal development of the program, development of the adult steering committee, marketing, and program development for their annual convention which is now attended by 1500 students each year.