Assessing your organization’s strengths and weaknesses along with the barriers to achieving your goals is an essential – yet often overlooked – step on the path to growing your membership. Be warned: you won’t like everything you see. That’s a good thing because it will help you identify where you need to improve.
First, start off by asking yourself questions like:
- What are the primary benefits of being a member of your organization?
- What are the most-used programs?
- What sets you apart from your competitors?
- How are you perceived by your members and prospects?
- What are the barriers to joining or renewing?
- How long does it take you to respond to member phone calls and emails, to process requests, and to complete transactions?
- What kinks in your day-to-day processes are holding you back from providing better services?
Resist the urge to jump to conclusions based on what you think you know about your association. Making assumptions can create disconnect between what you believe is valuable to members, and what actually is valuable.
Understanding how well your association is meeting the needs of its members and fulfilling its mission requires time, research, objectivity, and long-term commitment.
Assessing Your Organization: How to Perform a Thorough Evaluation of Your Business
1. Write out your mission statement.
This will remind you of your organization’s core purpose. Later, you will compare how your mission statement aligns with the benefits and programs you offer, and your members’ needs.
2. Make a list of all of your current services, programs, and benefits.
Rank the most valuable benefit as “#1” and continue from there. What is the unique selling point for each of them? What sets your organization apart from your competitors? Note the answers to these questions next to each benefit.
3. Audit your information management processes.
All the things that happen behind the scenes can have a huge impact on your customer service and overall performance.
For a week or two, every time you feel yourself getting frustrated by a time-consuming task or you’re having a hard time accessing needed information, write it down. Get all of your staff members to do the same. When you put all of the information together, you should be able to see some obvious aspects of your processes that need improvement. Issues with finding information about your members quickly, or needing to update the same information in several different places could mean you may need to improve your membership management process.
4. Crunch your numbers.
Good data should be the foundation of your decision-making process. If you have decent member management software, you should be able to get the information you need fairly quickly. If not, you may need to estimate for the time being.
5. Analyze your Membership Stats.
Compare your membership statistics from the past two years. You could go back even further if you have access to significant historical information. Looking at trends over time can be very useful. For starters, record the following data segmented by membership type:
- Percentage change in membership
- Percentage change in new member acquisition
- Percentage change in membership renewal rate
- Percentage change in event participation
- Percentage change in program and benefits usage
- Percentage of your revenue coming from membership
- Percentage of revenue coming from other income streams
6. Research your competitors.
Go through this process as a prospective member would. Search online for other competing organizations as well as employers or companies that offer similar products or services for free or at a lower cost. Compare benefits individually and also consider how your packages stack up to your competitors.
TIP: Track and compare benefits and costs on a spreadsheet. Determine your 3 to 5 most valuable and unique products. If you discover that some of your products don’t seem as valuable as those offered by your competitors, make a note of how you can improve or enhance those products.
7. Define your business objectives.
Once you have a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and how you stack up to your competitors, you can define your goals and objectives. Are you looking to expand your market share? Expand into new markets? Increase your revenue? Increase participation and engagement?
Your objectives will ultimately guide the way you shape your membership structure, pricing, and marketing efforts. For this reason, carefully assessing your organization with your business objectives in mind is undoubtedly worth taking the time to do.