First off, thank you for casting your ballot.
Now with regard to your points:
- Monthly happy hours: We have had a lot of fluctuation on the Board of Directors this year. We have had 2 people resign due to life circumstances during the year (between voting cycles) that had to then be replaced midyear and Board members did the best they could shuffle their responsibilities around and do double-duty, but the position that suffered most was the Director of Events (the person in charge of Happy Hours). Director of Gear & Merchandise (the one that oversees your membership kits and group buys) and Director of Membership Development & Volunteer (the one that oversees our “customer service” aspect and getting volunteers to the events) were deemed a higher priority to move people into as a result of the turnover of Board members. The priority events (Member Meetings & Annual Meeting) were divided up between the other Board members to fill. The Anniversary Gala was a separate entity entirely from the Board [a group of Event Coordinators] that helped organize the event. So for about half the year now, the Board has been operating without a full-time Director of Events, which is why the club happy hours have suffered. With a full slate of Board members coming on in December, we will have a person focused on Club Events and the happy hours will be back. It’s not that they intentionally went away; it was just a byproduct of rearranging priorities on the Board because of being short-staffed.
- The website and Facebook groups: We understand that there are issues with the website and it’s functionality. I can tell you that we are working on it and that we are making changes, but it is definitely not as fast of a pace as we would like (especially me; I want these changes all done by “tomorrow” but that isn’t feasible). I know you all hear this from us regularly (that we are working on it), but we are making changes slowly and things are moving forward. If anyone is an expert at WordPress, please contact email@example.com because we can use your help! Regarding Facebook groups, the Board has debated this a lot and you saw the way the Board ended up going. However, in the last half year or so, Facebook changed something that has led us to reconsider our stance. Facebook introduced the ability for Pages to have Groups within them (i.e. Sub-Groups). This was not a feature of Facebook until recently. The major sticking point that the Board mulled over was the ability to maintain a consistency among the Groups so that the mission and vision of DCTriClub could be held throughout. With the addition of the “sub-groups”, the club administrators can now ensure a more consistent message across any group. As you can see here (https://www.facebook.com/pg/dctriclub/groups/), the club has already brought all Community Groups into the fold. Going forward, program Facebook groups (NTP, HIP, etc.) will be allowed as part of the sub-groups of the main DCTriClub Facebook page.
- Meeting Minutes: This is definitely an oversight on our part. We get those every now and then! Meeting Minutes must be reviewed and approved at the subsequent Board meeting, so we are technically only behind by 2 meetings (September and October; November will be reviewed in December). We will get those posted shortly and try to implement a more regimented schedule such that the Minutes are posted almost immediately after they are approved at a Board Meeting.
- Quantity and Relationships: In just one short paragraph, you present a lot of thoughts to digest and debate and it could take hours upon hours and pages upon pages to properly respond. There is a whole lot I can say about the changing demographics of the club and thus the changing priorities of our members and how the Board has done its best (sometimes decently and sometimes poorly as we ourselves are a changing demographic), however; I will just focus on one point:
- You set quantity/club branding at one end of the spectrum (“bad”) and quality/relationships at the other end of the spectrum (“good”). I will counter then with the idea that your equating a discount at a local retail merchant to buying off Amazon is the exact opposite of what you describe. Going to Amazon to buy a product is strictly about quantity (the price), but going to a local retail merchant (running store, bike shop) is about building relationships. It’s about building a rapport with the sales staff, the bike mechanics, the runners and cyclers who work at these stores such that we are one community of swimmers, cyclists, runners, and triathletes in the Washington DC area. It’s about building those relationships so that when we go to one of those stores, they know our names and they welcome us with open arms. It’s about the relationship between the club in general and the local retail stores such that when someone brand new to the club goes into one of these stores and mention they are with DCTriClub, then they’ll be welcomed with open arms because they’re part of the family. Going to Amazon is solely about price and convenience (quantity) unless you have a personal relationship with the person that grabs your items from a warehouse shelf and throws them on a conveyer belt for packaging.
- No local retail merchant nor the club itself could ever compete with Amazon. If we were Walmart, then sure, but we’re not. I have had people call me personally (my cell phone number has gone out on PayPal receipts because I’m Treasurer) and we have had people email us complaining about the speed with which they receive their membership kit or the items from the custom Garneau group buy. They have actually said that they could get things faster and cheaper at Amazon. They are right. There is no way we, the Club, can compete with that. We work part time as volunteers for the Club. We submit membership kit orders twice per month. The LG gear is custom ordered several times per year because we don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to hold a stock of kits for people to buy at their leisure or to return when they don’t fit. The American populace has gotten used to ordering at their whim with overnight free-shipping from Amazon. We cannot do that. I wish we could! I really do, but I’d have to raise dues to something like TeamZ ($100+ per month) to accommodate all the desire of our club members and we had people complain about an annual $10 membership price increase. Local retail merchants face the exact same issues (well, they’re not volunteers, they do get paid), but they must maintain a brick & mortar location and pay rents (just imagine the rent they pay if we pay $1000s for an studio style apartment with a laundry room in the basement) and employees and inventory costs. They cannot operate at the margins that Amazon or Walmart can. So they have to be about the customer service and the relationships. That’s why the Club partners with these merchants. We want to develop relationships and in return they give us a discount (albeit not one that is equivalent to Amazon’s price) because we are building a relationship and want them to treat our members like family. They also give us the use of their locations for member meetings and clinics and other events because of that relationship.
I don’t mean to knock your points at all and I apologize if it comes off that way (I blame the wine). For the longest time the club was focused on grow grow grow. I have done my best to change that focus toward retain retain retain in the last few years. I have touted quality of membership over quantity of memberships. We have tried certain things to develop the member experience (we added a third training camp and a third Brick-Nic to the calendar this year) to focus more about quality and relationship within the club for our members, but they haven’t always been successful (the third training camp had only 4 people attend / even the DCL training camp was the smallest it has been in years and that wasn’t due to weather). We have tried our best, but we have also had to deal with a changing demographics. Priorities of our members have changed over the year. We have members who aren’t all about drinking alcohol, so monthly happy hours are not the way to engage them. The Board is learning as we go how to accommodate the changing demographics and the changing priorities of the membership. We are trying our best. It’s not always going to work.
So when you say “I think there are many things the club can improve on…. [to] focus more on membership ‘quality’ and ‘relationships’,” please elaborate! Maybe we should put a suggestion box up somewhere for people to toss out ideas of what we can do. The Board members are trying, but we are only 14 people who might not have all the best ideas. I like to think I have all the bright ideas, but I know I don’t. 🙂 So if you have ideas (if anyone has ideas) about how we can do better at improving the member experience, then please let us know!
Again, thank you for your thoughts. I truly do appreciate when our members chime in with their thoughts. This is a club for the members, not for the Board, so we want to hear what you all think!