I recently moderated a webinar session for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and its Association Management Company Section Council. The session included three panelists, all who are association management company (AMC) owners. The goal of our session was to have an open discussion about the value an AMC brings to the associations it represents. It was an engaging session and one that I think can be continued through ongoing discussions as we consistently evolve as an industry and find new ways to improve our ability to service and impact associations. To kick-off a follow-up conversation on this topic, I had additional thoughts on the value of an AMC based on my personal experience within the industry and with Talley Management Group (TMG).
Moving past the financial value discussion – AMCs bring cost savings to operations and other areas, making an AMC a big value to associations. Looking past that, AMCs can offer value through the shared service model and through economies of scale, in addition to several others that were brought up during the webinar.
Access to collective expertise of the AMC and its team - This is great example of value and one that TMG focuses on developing regularly. Each week our team of executive directors meet for an hour. This diverse group of 15 professionals manage an equally diverse group of associations creating an environment of diversity in experience – from one director who is in the first year in their role to another who has over 25 years of experience as an association CEO. These are in-depth discussions, focusing on real issues that impact our clients. This type of regular interaction and ability to have access to this group is invaluable and directly influences the success and sustainability of our client associations.
Using technology to promote and facilitate knowledge sharing – Connections and collaborations don’t stop at the executive director level, they exist throughout every single team among every member and are just as important. Through the use technologies like Microsoft Teams, TMG has given our teams a new way to share best practices across the entire company. Looking for a sample sponsorship agreement? Post the question or search the Sponsors and Exhibits Teams channel and it is a few clicks away. This tool has given us the ability to build new competencies and highlight existing ones that were unknown.
Making use of what already exists - By way of the same idea of staff connectedness, best practices and experiences are made apparent. Our teams are managing programs and events throughout the entire year, whether onsite or online. An example of this came up recently when a client made the decision to move forward with the implementation of a new online member community portal. It was the same platform that another client implemented six months earlier. Rather than reinventing the wheel, our existing internal team supported the integration of the platform, sharing best practices, guidance and advice in addition to assisting its ongoing usage as well. This creates increased productivity and fosters an environment for growth and collaboration among colleagues.
Same place, different time – As mentioned about, the TMG team share best practices, membership management and other valuable information, including recommendations and insight on event locations. That type of situation happens with events as well. Currently, we have two client events at the same property, one this year and the next in 2020. Both faced similar issues on space requirements that shifted because of growth of the event after securing the venue. The needs were identical and gave us a blueprint to go back to the property to make the adjustments. The value? Including the meeting manager from the client event in 2019 to help share experiences and how they solved the issue with the same exact space.
These are just a few areas that an AMC can bring to their association stakeholders and TMG has additional services that support the associations we partner with. AMCs exist to bring value to associations. One of the panelists from the ASAE webinar, Nick Ruffin of AMR Management said it best when he stated, “We (AMCs) are the Uber of the association industry.” The concept of an association by a management firm may be over a century old but our concept continues to be innovative and effective. Together, we now need to better tell our story, our value and what we bring to organizations that choose to partner with us.