Whether you like using numbers or you don’t, numbers paint a picture, they tell a story and because they are fact, they do not lie!
At the end of the Toastmaster year (June 30) many District and Club Leaders turn their attention towards the numbers. Are we going to make it? Will we be Distinguished, Select Distinguished or President’s Distinguished? If you’re close then you may be able to pinpoint that one small activity or achievement that must be completed in order to get yourself over the top!
Unfortunately for many, turning attention to the numbers at the eleventh hour is too little, too late! Just like a plane that crashes because it reaches the end of the runway before landing or taking off safely you have left yourself no room for error, no opportunity to make a midcourse correction in your action plan.
You should be paying attention to the numbers from July 1 onward. I’m not suggesting that you need to be an obsessive freak about it, what I am suggesting is that the numbers serve as an indicators just as the instruments and controls on the dashboard of your vehicle do. They speak to you if you know what to listen for and how to interpret the information.
For example, let’s say that you belong to a community club. There are no current economic or political events occurring that are preventing growth. However, for some reason your club membership numbers are either stagnant or growing very poorly. You know that growth is important because all clubs experience attrition therefore, an influx of fresh faces is critical in order to sustain a healthy and energetic membership base. The first thing you have to do is get brutally honest with yourself, take a step back and look at the situation in an unbiased manner. (If you are unable to do this then this is where your Area Director becomes a valuable asset)
What numbers do you need to consider?
Is your club attracting visitors, guests and members prospects?
If the answer is no, how does this compare with similar clubs in your geographic area or region? If this is a common problem amongst clubs in your region then the solution may be more unique. If on the other hand, you are in a target rich environment, although the answer in most cases is obvious, (you cannot add members to the club if you aren’t getting any guests) the solution may not be so straightforward.
If your club meets at a time or in a location that isn’t convenient or attractive to the masses then this may be your problem and the question then becomes are you prepared to change this? If not, then you are permanently stuck with this challenge. If changing is acceptable then obviously selecting a time and/or location that is more appealing to people is going to have an impact on attendance. The other obvious answer is increased exposure! The VPPR and the Club Executive need to create a plan of action that attracts attention and stimulates interest in the community that you serve! There are many ways of doing this at no cost or low cost including local newspapers (in print and online) as well as social media. If your club doesn’t have a vibrant online presence then you are not properly targeting and marketing to the 35 years of age and under crowd. The internet is how this age group does their research and shop for products and services. A content rich web site is your electronic store front!
What if on the other hand you are getting a steady stream of guests however, your conversion rate is either poor or zero? You may have an issue with what I’m going to refer to as customer service and/or sales skills. Are you welcoming your guests and making them feel comfortable and accepted? Do they feel acknowledged and appreciated for visiting? Does someone invest the time to speak with them, show interest, ask questions, answer questions and host them properly? Are they invited to speak and even participate? Does someone walk through a guest package with them and ask them if they are ready to become a member? Do you invite them back for a second visit? Here is a tough question, have cliques formed within your club that make it difficult and uncomfortable for guests to break into? Have you created an environment that is warm and welcoming or does the environment make people feel like intimidated outsiders? Are your meetings fun, do they showcase what you have to offer them? Are you maintaining an acceptable standard in product quality? (Click Here for a Meeting Assessment Tool)
Some clubs accumulate enough Distinguished Club Points during the Toastmaster year however they do not achieve Distinguished or better status because they fail to meet the minimum membership requirement which is a shame! The DCP program has several components to it and one component is focused on the ability of the Club Leadership to put in a collective team effort and maintain and grow a membership base that ensures long term sustainability. It is a shame when I club fails to meet the membership requirement however, this is usually something that is predictable and preventable as long as they leverage the numbers (the data) to strengthen the club!
Keep an eye on the numbers, determine which numbers matter most, leverage the information provided by the numbers to assess your strengths and weaknesses as a club and act on the information in order to maintain a healthy balance and achieve individual member and club goals.