Director’s Statement

Rob Bartlett, BVAA CEO

“Machine Gun?” Never heard of it. I haven’t got time to see some Salesman, I’ve got a war to fight.’

Rob Bartlett giving a speech at the 2019 AGM
I have mentioned here previously that not-for-profit trade association CEOs face some unique challenges, and inevitably our fiscal-status is always in our minds. There’s therefore very little benefit in spending too much time looking back, save to learn valuable lessons, since it is always - inevitably - the future that is the focus of our attention.

Last year was an excellent year. It was very good from a servicedelivery perspective, also financially too, and we look set to be in a similar good position this year as we enter Q4. As I write we have the highest ever membership for the month of January, and we recruited back into membership some of the key players we’d lost or indeed never had before.

Although subscription receipts increased significantly, this was due largely to recruitment. The amount each member pays is, on average, declining in real terms. Members are, on average, typically much smaller entities.

This makes non-subs income a critical focus. This line has increased from virtually zero to C.40% of total income in my time, yet still we drive it very hard. Why?

Because, unfortunately, many of our BVAA events still result in a cost, not a profit. The Spring Conference, the golf days, the Supplier Day, AGM and working group meetings typically so. These are, ironically, our most popular events, and this is with generous event sponsorship taken into account.

Such events are ‘services,’ not profit-centres. They are however the lifeblood of Associations, and to deliver quality and value, a go/no-go decision here is based on the benefit we believe any service delivers to members, not primarily the £s it costs. I should also add the social cohesiveness the events bring – networking/ fraternity/sorority is immeasurable, not to mention vital.

Even so, the Secretariat will not deliver dud events. The postponement of the February 2020 Supplier Day for example was a great disappointment.

We are reviewing scheduling, which may have played a part, but members must develop the habit of booking promptly, and more especially recognising the value, particularly our manufacturers. We have had rave reviews and endorsements from both suppliers and manufacturers who have participated, and substantially benefitted as a result.

That aside, we’ve had a fantastic year, as can be read from my colleagues’ reports! Best ever financial position, best ever services, best ever secretariat team in my view - and I can do nothing without their brilliant support. There’s an awful lot to celebrate!

I will continue to maintain my vigilance here on finances and services, etc., endeavouring to have the best service-leaders, contractors, WG Chairs, etc., working for the membership with the best Secretariat support we can muster.

Our lively Chairman and his evermore engaging Board will play their own tremendous part too, steering the Secretariat’s focus. However for their part, members must in these unsettled, Brexitissue ridden times, embrace the advice and opportunities we put their way. Now is not the time to be passive, as we are, indisputably, ‘Stronger Together.’

Spring 2020 // Issue 52
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