Trade Association Consulting
Our trade association consulting clients range from those focused on a state level or regional level to those having an international impact.
We work with our clients to understand the market forces that are transforming the needs of their members and the industries they serve.
Our work has enabled our clients to reassess how the changing needs of their members impacts the services offered and what needs to change to better meet member needs. Our work has helped our trade association clients to plan better to achieve greater member impact and transition through complex and changing times.
Trade Association Consulting Success Stories:
Challenge: An international trade association representing businesses with revenues of more than $1 billion needed strategic planning assistance to update the organization’s strategic plan at its board retreat in Philadelphia.
JCS Solution: Our preparation included reviewing historical information and deeply analyzing key metrics. We interviewed the board’s executive committee leadership and key staff to understand the critical issues that needed to be discussed at the planning session. We designed a planning retreat that would promote in-depth discussion by the board of directors on key strategies, sensitive issues and the difficult questions they faced regarding resource allocations.
Results: The organization’s director said we “delivered a highly impactful and invigorating strategic planning session.” We helped the board make decisions on several key issues that had festered for several years. We prioritized their strategic options and helped them clarify and determine their next steps on how to most effectively implement them. Our work was so effective and efficient that the board concluded the retreat nearly four hours early.
Challenge: A trade association needed to better understand the complex and dramatic changes occurring within its membership and to develop a strategy for restructuring the organization to better meet member needs in this rapidly changing industry.
JCS Solution: Our work included in-depth interviews of a variety of members of the organization and conducting a survey of all members. Our survey of the CEO’s of member organizations achieved a phenomenal 86% response rate. We worked directly with the association’s strategic planning group to evaluate the information and to facilitate a discussion of the critical issues.
Results: The resulting restructuring of the organization gained the widespread support of its diverse membership and exceeded the expected results. A subsequent independent evaluation of this strategic plan, and the members’ satisfaction regarding the strategic direction was performed by another consulting organization. Their findings reflected; “These results are in a word, astounding. We have not before seen the range of pervasive support for an association and its ability to identify essential issues and services to its members.”
Challenge: The Executive Committee of the board of directors of a widely-regarded Chamber of Commerce hired Johnson Consulting Services to research the market opportunity for the development of a new for-profit division.
JCS Solution: We conducted an internal review of the existing business line to assess existing capability parameters, assess the ability of the staff to implement various strategies and identify potential customers. An external review was conducted to evaluate the ideas being considered, evaluate additional market opportunities, assess competitor status and identify critical success factors. Finally, we used our research to develop a comprehensive business plan to establish this new division and assisted the Chamber staff in preparing cash flow projections for a three-year period and an estimate of the up-front capital requirements to implement this business unit.
Results: The Chamber board of directors unanimously approved the implementation of this business plan. First year profits of this division were more than double what had been projected in the business plan.
Challenge: The new 30-year old president of the State Chapter of an international professional association needed assistance in bringing his working board through its first ever strategic planning process. Neither he nor many of the organization’s board members had ever been involved in developing a strategic plan before.
JCS Solution: We worked closely with the president and their association management company to identify the critical issues the board needed to discuss. We assessed the financial status of the association, as well as its leadership skill set and membership commitment in an era of extraordinary economic stress. We conducted research to identify how this professional role linked to the critical strategic value it provided to its member companies. We designed the strategic planning retreat to focus on developing key strategies that would leverage the association’s resources, training and support to members that would enhance the value of their membership in this association.
Results: Our presentation to board at the start of the planning session provided all participants with strategic insight on the critical issues impacting the industry and created a common framework for their discussion. After the planning session, we helped the President flesh out the formal strategic plan for his use in managing his leadership efforts. The client retained us to update their plan two years later. This subsequent effort documented that the organization had fully implemented all of major initiatives of the strategic plan within this short time horizon. They also achieved the significant accomplishment of the bold strategic initiative to establish a degree program for the profession at a major university within their community. These consulting engagements have left a lasting impact on the profession itself that transcend the planning retreats.
Challenge: A 35-year old state-wide trade association was on the verge of imploding. Within a week the association’s executive director had resigned along with its president and half of its board of directors. The remaining leaders were struggling with how to salvage the situation and were considering shutting the organization down for good.
JCS Solution: We worked closely with the president-elect and the remaining members of the board’s executive committee to clarify the most significant short-term priorities to immediately stabilize the organization and provide a basis for the enterprise survival. We assisted these leaders in understanding the underlying dynamics that led to the leadership collapse and identified the most crucial leadership skills needed to rebuild the association. We engaged the leaders in a candid dialog to identify what they immediately needed from each of their stakeholders and to identify options to work-around the gaps. We also helped these leaders realistically assess their willingness to step-up to fill the leadership void and make a real commitment to turning the situation around.
Results: Our strategic triage for this association ensured its survival and stabilized its financial infrastructure. Nearly five years later, the organization had a well-established leadership succession plan. It also successfully implemented a new awards recognition program that garnered significant positive media attention from television, radio and major newspapers.