Prior to my arrival at CommPartners, I had the honor of serving as the Director of Professional Development at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Like many of you, my department was charged with offering a diverse portfolio of continuing education programs and generating a significant amount of non-dues revenue each year. And, as I’m sure many of you can also relate, we had constant pressure to produce more programs and increase non-dues revenue, without additional resources.
Luckily for me, I led a team of extremely savvy, hard-working professionals who were passionate about their work, committed to excellence and always willing to do more. However, I knew they were already operating at full capacity, so increasing their workloads was not a sustainable solution, nor was it appropriate. Instead, I had to take a step back and audit the business model and see what superfluous and antiquated processes were in-place. During that evaluation, something struck me…we weren’t aligned with the best vendor-partners (for our needs), and/or we weren’t leveraging them to their fullest extent.
To help shed light on what I’m talking about, I’ll use ASHA’s webinar product-line as an example. When I arrived at ASHA, the department was using a self-service tool from a supplier that was nonresponsive (in a timeframe conducive to our needs), expensive, and unable/unwilling to handle support-related issues from our participants during live programs. Additionally, it wasn’t in their scope to train our subject matter experts on the platform or share the latest adult-based learning practices. In short, we had to do everything and anything related to our webinars (i.e. speaker training, platform setup, teleconference reservations, program script, reminder messages to registrants, customer support during live-programs, post-event archive conversion/posting, the list goes on and on). Even though our webinars were profitable, it took a lot of work to produce a two-hour program and I couldn’t help but question the opportunity cost of our process.
After assessing the aforementioned situation with my team, we agreed it was time for a change and that meant parting ways with our self-service vendor—an easy decision once CommPartners shared their fully managed webinar approach with us. With CommPartners onboard, we immediately realized a 50% reduction in work associated with webinars…an incredible savings on all counts. We invested that “extra time” towards thinking more intentionally about future webinar programming and concentrating on hot-button topics that would likely garner large audiences (and revenue). Additionally, we were now positioned to host more webinars than ever before. Although it would take us a little over a year to measure the impact of these calibrations, it was worth the wait! In 2014, we offered 16 new webinars and made $385k; in 2015, we offered 19 new webinars and made $567k. That’s a revenue increase of 47% in just ONE year!
We applied the same analysis on all of our product lines and vendor-partners, made similar adjustments, and observed positive results akin to our webinars. Leaning on our vendor-partners to collaborate with us on a much deeper level and act as true extensions of our staff was the best decision we made. It enabled us to focus on our core competencies and objectives, while offloading auxiliary responsibilities to our vendor-partners, who were better equipped at handling those tasks. The collective amount of saved time allowed us to plan more strategically for the future, invest in new formats and initiatives, and expand our continuing education portfolio and revenue streams.
Want to explore how CommPartners can help you focus on your core competencies and objectives? Shoot me an email at email@example.com or give me a call at 443.539.4858 and let’s chat!
Written by Christopher Urena
Former Director, ASHA Professional Development