3 Tips for Running a More Profitable Association Management Company (Tip 3: Use a Board Portal)
By Dustin McKissen, March 02, 2017
Working for an association management company
(AMC) is an odd way to make a living. I know—I spent a good part of my adult
life working for AMCs.
When you get asked what you do for a living,
you have to choose a simple answer (I’m a consultant) or a host of words that
usually have no meaning to anyone other than an association professional (I
work for a for-profit company that manages nonprofit trade associations).
Despite its almost indescribable nature,
working for an AMC is great. You meet interesting people and learn a lot about
industries you didn’t even know existed. I used to tell my wife that working for AMCs is the perfect training for an appearance on Jeopardy!
In my various stints as staff and a consultant
with different AMCs, I’ve seen companies that are really profitable—and AMCs
that are just barely hanging on.
Here’s what I’ve learned when it comes to
profitably managing an AMC.
1. If possible, specialize.
There are two types of AMCs.
Some manage any association that will pay them
a fee, and others specialize in one industry or sector. Assuming you don’t own
one of the really large AMCs, the best way that I’ve seen for small or
mid-sized AMCs to be profitable is to specialize.
The most profitable AMC I’ve ever worked with
as a consultant or employee was a small company that focused exclusively on
manufacturing-related associations. That familiarity with a specific sector meant
that the AMC developed industry expertise, which made it easier to create
profitable programs, develop compelling marketing campaigns, and deploy staff
across multiple associations.
Specialization might make for a smaller AMC,
but it will also increase your profitability.
2. Focus on client retention.
A lot of small AMCs try and gobble up as many
clients as possible, throwing out a response to every RFP they see. I’ve seen
more than one instance where the AMC owner even had family members pose as staff during a potential client site
Of course, while some AMCs are family businesses (I worked for one great AMC that was run by a father and son), the spouses in question in the companies referenced above were not a part of the staff.
In both instances the AMC got the client, and
struggled to keep up with the new workload. Service to all the company’s
Focus on building the best possible
relationship with current clients, and pursue strategic growth rather than growth
for its own sake.
3. Leverage technology to decrease expenses
and redirect staff toward value-added duties.
When you own an AMC, you aren’t producing
widgets in a factory.
Your main expenses are people and time. It’s
important to have your people and their time directed toward the best possible
use, like developing programs and coming up with ideas that keep your client
associations profitable, growing, and getting their management services from
That’s why a tool like BoardPaq is a great solution for an AMC. The board portal of choice for more
than 70 associations, BoardPaq reduces the amount of time you and your staff spend preparing for
board and committee meetings.
Already the most cost-effective board portal
serving associations, BoardPaq will work with your AMC to create a multi-client pricing structure
that’s right for your company.
Specialize, focus on client retention, and
Follow those steps, and your AMC will be more
profitable than ever.