An Executive Director's point of view


October 28, 2015: Early payment (too early)

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
If a member pays dues too early in the year, don't just deposit the payment in the association's bank account.

Ask the member if the early payment had been intended. It often wasn't. The member may have forgotten the payment had already been made, and paid a second time.

Offer to refund the payment or add it for another year of dues - even if your group does not offer multi-year memberships. The member may actually opt for the extra year, rather than admit having made a mistake.

But always ask. It is fairer than simply pocketing the cash, and the member will appreciate having been asked.

October 08, 2015: Nobody asked

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
Businesses often make changes THEY want and tell you it is to improve YOUR experience. But you didn't ask for those changes and they didn't ask if you wanted them.

LinkedIn is changing how groups operate, claiming it will "make your groups simpler and more relevant." But it didn't ask the groups how to do that or if they even wanted to do that.

Google organizes and highlights email that IT claims is most important to you. But it doesn't ask YOU what you think is important.

Don't do these things in associations. If you want to improve members' experiences, ask them how they think that ought to be done.

And don't lie. Don't claim to know what members and customers think is best. Ask them.

September 04, 2015: The price is right?

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
But what's the price?

I received an invite to an event that did not state the price. So, I assumed it was expensive.

I clicked "register now" and it took me to a page that provided more details about the event. But still, no price.

Normally, I would have deleted the invite at that point, but I was curious, so I continued, even though I no longer had any intention of registering.

After clicking "register now" (again), I found myself on a page that promised to tell me the price for the entire event and for individual portions of the event, in case I didn't want to attend the whole thing.

Only when I clicked one of those choices, was I given the price.

If you don't state the price up front, it gives the impression you are hiding it because you know it's too high.

If your event has value, you won't have to hide the price.
Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
Read 'em here.

August 25, 2015: Fax it

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
Many industries and professions utilize faxes for transmission of important information.

Banks, hospitals, insurance companies, and mortgage lenders are among those that often require faxes and do not want documents emailed to them, even though they may maintain robust online services for other activities. Many attorneys, too, prefer paper to electronic communication.

So, before you dump your fax machine, determine how frequently you expect to send and receive faxes, explore alternative fax venues, and calculate the cost of each.

Then decide how best to connect by fax to people with whom you need to be connected by fax.

August 10, 2015: Think for yourself

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
There's a lot of talk, now, about eliminating annual performance appraisals, offering unlimited vacation days, embracing workforce diversity, developing more interactive educational sessions, creating wall-less offices, and changing the way associations and business have engaged in a variety of activities.

But ideas like these are not new. Many people, organizations, and business have been designing innovative workplaces for a long time.

What's new is that some large, successful entities have now adopted these practices, so others think it's safe for them to do the same.

But you should conduct activities in certain ways because you think those ways are best, not because they are fashionable, popular, or have become the norm in your industry or profession.

Think for yourself, and do what you think is best. Don't just follow everybody else.

July 27, 2015: Wrong question

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
I just canceled a publication subscription (actually, I let it lapse but was still sent each issue - so I canceled) and I was sent a survey asking about the quality of the person who handled the matter.

I was not asked why I canceled or what I thought of the publication. The company merely wanted feedback about its employee's performance.

(I usually give great ratings, but I did not communicate with anybody to cancel. I did it online. So, I did not respond to the survey).

Shouldn't the company have been more concerned about why it lost a subscriber than about how its employee performed?

July 21, 2015: Employee morale builder

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
Open Books, a Chicago-area literacy program, issues business cards to all of its employees - even to those who don't need them.

It makes employees feel more important and gives them one more reason to like the organization.

But don't issue business cards to your employees in lieu of paying higher salaries. Pay people what they deserve - and give them the cards, too.
Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
Sometimes, people think more of you and your association just because you listened to them.

Here are some situations in which listening was beneficial - and some tips for dealing with complaints.

February 17, 2015: Avoiding contact

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
An association does not seem to want to receive telephone calls.

A recorded welcome invites people to leave a message or be directed to a specific staff person. But it does not allow anybody to contact a department or to identify a person responsible for a particular organizational activity.

So, the choice is - know the name of the person you are calling, or just leave your message in a general bin and hope for the best.

But your answering system should not be built around evading people whom you don't know and may not wish to speak with.

Perhaps a media representative or government official is trying to call and doesn't want to be dumped into an anonymous inbox. Or a colleague from another association wants to chat with you about collaboration on a future project.

Always make it easy to be contacted.
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