As I was preparing to write this column about AAPG's change in primary focus from finances to service, I was amused by all of the proverbs and sayings about money.
One of my favorites is "Two can live as cheaply as one, but for only half as long." Another saying is "the buck stopped before it got to me!"
After 9/11 and the following decline in investment returns, AAPG took a "hit" on finances. This is due to many factors, including the increased cost of developing meetings, increased pension expenses and, of course, revenue from investments, which are part of AAPG's income stream.
Needless to say, our primary area of focus became the budget; however, after numerous cuts and adjustments plus the addition of new revenue streams, we are back on target.
Last year we expected a loss of almost $300,000, and instead we have turned it around with a gain of over $200,000. I say "we" very widely as it was indeed a team effort of the leadership and staff. The budget for this fiscal year, 2005-06, is in the black, and this is supported by our incoming financials.
I once heard someone say that "money doesn't grow on trees, you have to beat the bushes for it." We have been "beating the bushes" and, of course, it is critical that we run AAPG as efficiently as possible. We just prefer the primary focus to be on service rather than finances.
There are numerous quotes about money and service, but perhaps Arthur F. Sheldon, a master salesman and teacher, says it the best as "He profits most who serves the best."
The "All Member Survey" clearly shows that members generally feel that AAPG provides good service -- but we want to be the best.
It is important to note in discussing service that during the past six years we have cut staff while at the same time we have increased the number of products and services. This has placed a strain on our human resources. Now that we are back on even financial keel we are building a comprehensive service plan as part of the overall strategy and as a key component of the new comprehensive business plan.
The following are three new service programs that the AAPG Executive Committee recently approved:
The first is a special service program to the AAPG Sections and Regions.
For the first time this year we will have a staff member totally dedicated to "grassroots" support of AAPG members. The design is for this position to be a two-way communicator between members and staff -- finding the needs of the membership and making the Section and Regions leadership, as well as the affiliated societies, aware of AAPG services.
The second is a marketing plan.
A key part of this plan is investigating the needs of AAPG members through each stage of a career in geosciences. This will help us better understand the products and services that we should produce.
The first phase of the membership marketing plan was presented at the Membership Workshop held last month. The plan includes one dedicated staff person who will focus on marketing and sales.
AAPG has many new benefits that need to be communicated effectively to the membership. The marketing plan is about providing timely information about the benefits of AAPG membership.
A third part of the service plan is the development of an AAPG Service Center.
Although this plan is still under construction, the idea is to provide a central calling center to answer most incoming questions at headquarters. This will require special training of several AAPG staff, and one person dedicated to the management of the Service Center.
Please note that all three of the above plans are made easier by the installation of our new association management software, which the AAPG Executive Committee approved last year.
As Albert Einstein said, "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Financially, AAPG is as good as ever, and now we can focus on the most important things for our members.
We always are looking for ways to improve. Please let us know how we can better serve you.