Doing more, with less

Almost all of us have had to deal with that reality in our careers. At BVAA, this is no different.

Rob Bartlett, BVAA Director

The BVAA Team (Left-Right): Rob Boycott, Karen Webb, Martin Greenhalgh, Barbara Lestak-Maynes, Rob Bartlett
Our outgoing Chairman has reflected upon the challenges that both he and I inherited in the mid-2000s, but the ones we faced last year were still somewhat challenging. The industry continued to corral resources, and members’ trading experience inevitably had some knock-on effect for the BVAA.

Many people wrongly assume the BVAA is a charity. We are a Ltd company (but with no share capital). So, we face the same issues that members do – where will we derive income, when there’s less money around in the marketplace? All this in an atmosphere where spending on association subscriptions comes under ever greater scrutiny in the search for ‘value for money.’

So it was with regard to our subscriptions income. We reached our budgeted target this year, but some contraction and consolidation continued, with outcomes for BVAA that may ripple on for a year or two yet.

Two non-subs lines that we have relied upon in recent years are Training and Exhibitions.

On average we draw our training delegates 50/50 from the user-base and the membership. As a discretionary spend in the current climate, this line was inevitably affected from both customer streams, but did recover to be on a par to last year. This success however was largely derived from choosing to deliver in more geographical locations and broadening the offer, plus some good, old-fashioned campaigning.

As a non-Valve World year, and thus the trough in our cycle, our exhibitions income and costs were expected to be diminished in 2017/18. Pre-bookings for Valve World 2018 (next financial year) remain buoyant however and should be much improved over the 2016 event. This year we did better overall from exhibitions than planned thanks to the superb success in extending the desktop exhibition programme, by number and by previously unvisited hosts, and credit for this must go to the effervescent Rob Boycott, BVAA’s hard working Business Development Consultant. The benefits to be derived from these additional opportunities for members cannot be overstated.

There is a temptation to trim staffing in tougher times, but the BVAA Board showed great resilience in not only maintaining our head count, but also extending it to meet the new demands upon us. I’m delighted that our Marketing Co-ordinator Natalie Miller is making such a superb job of Valveuser magazine, with all pre-press work now being done in-house, and Barbara Lestak-Maynes is bringing her experience to bear on the avalanche of new events that we are now hosting.

This has enabled Karen Webb and I, supported ably by Barbra Homer, to focus our attention on member contact, understand your needs and briefing you more fully on member services and how to achieve better value.

Our Technical Consultant Martin Greenhalgh continues to steer our Technical Groups in his own inimitable style, and I’m very pleased to see new activities such as that with the Energy Institute – importantly involving the customer-base – coming online.

The Future Leaders Programme will feature elsewhere in this review. However I will add here this is the most satisfying activity of my trade association career. As we move into the third year of this initiative, it appears our fears of not having the talent we require in our industry were unfounded. We just have to seek it out, invest in it, develop it, then let it have the latitude it needs to make a difference!

To close, it is going to be a strange experience, attending a BVAA Board meeting that does not include David Millar among its number. David joined the Board just as I was appointed, and he’s been a largely ever-present component since. I’m not sure it will be quite the same without him. That said, BVAA members are extremely fortunate in having such a dynamic and talented executive body as they do, and with their and new Chair Colin Findlay’s support I’m positive we can raise BVAA to even greater heights.

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 44


Spring 2018 // Issue 44
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