To explain the world of association management companies, we’ll ask - and answer - common questions about a special type of company offering a very special service.

Q. What are “association management specialists?”
A. Companies which manage the affairs of two or more associations on a contract, shared-cost basis. The company provides the professional and administrative staff, office space, and equipment; each association buys the services it needs. The typical company works for five to ten client associations.

Q. Why are we considered specialists?
A. Because that’s our only business. This means professionalism, efficiency and economy of service for our client associations. We can easily set up a meeting or process statistics or prepare a newsletter, because we’ve handled that assignment many times before. In addition, we can provide our client associations with sound advice about new projects or ideas, because we’ve had experience with the same project or idea for another client.

Q. Aren’t we sometimes called “multiple managers?”
A. Yes, that’s a shorthand way of referring to us. But we don’t like the term because it deprecates our value and our services. Lawyers who work for many clients aren’t called “multiple lawyers.” We are very careful to give full attention to each client and we always use the association name when we’re working for that client.

Q. What do we provide to client associations?
A. Service is our primary function. We are responsible for furnishing services to and on behalf of our clients. To put it another way, associations represent and serve their members - so we must represent and serve our client association and their members.

Q. What services do specialists provide to association clients?
A. All association management specialists are staffed to furnish full management and basic administrative services. If services are not provided by the specialist staff, the company acquires or retains them outside and supervises them on behalf of the association.

Q. How large are specialist companies?
A. The typical company has fewer than ten employees, and only a handful more than fifty employees. This means, in most companies, that everyone is involved in all aspects of the services rendered by the company.

Q. What particular services are provided to client groups?
A. They usually include management of all administrative affairs as well as conventions and meetings, seminars, membership promotion and retention,government relations and contracts, trade shows, insurance, journals and magazines, statistical collection and dissemination, institutional advertising and public relations, and standards and certification programs. Often, specialist companies tend to concentrate on areas of their expertise - and to attract client groups which want these particular services.

Q. Why do associations retain specialist companies?
A. According to client surveys, the most common reasons are professionalism, economics and efficiency, counsel and leadership, and continuity of management.

Q. Please explain “professionalism.”
A. Specialist companies have a range of skills. We can transfer knowledge from one association or situation to another, to assure that proposed activities are properly planned and mistakes are minimized. We also have a depth of skills.

We are also a team, not just one or two people who were available when a particular association needed a staff. Our staff has diverse skills. We back one another up, and exchange experience and ideas with one another.

We have a range of contacts. We know which artist or printer to call for a particular assignment. We know and work with a variety of professionals and consultants. We know hotel and convention people. Whatever our clients need, we can do it or see that it’s done.

Q. What do you mean by “economics and efficiency?”
A. Especially in these inflationary times, when all associations have difficulty increasing their revenues, specialist companies are coming into their own. We have a record of providing services to our clients on an economical, efficient basis.

We are, of course, the natural choice for small associations which can’t afford a full-time staff. We offer them professional management and administration on a shared-cost basis.

We also offer significant advantages to all associations, regardless of size or budget. They have no investment in equipment; the association pays only for what it needs, as it uses it. We can shift personnel to where they’re needed, for only as long as they’re needed, thus controlling costs. And we can offer better, higher priced experts - such as engineers or communication or membership directors. Clients can get the best, using and paying for services only when they are required.

Q. Why are “counsel and leadership” a consideration?
A. Intelligent, active staff leadership is a necessity for associations today. Few members of associations have the time to do more than give general direction to their association. They depend on staff to generate new ideas...test them on leaders and members...and make certain they are implemented properly.

This is a key role for the specialist company. Today, isn’t enough to offer economical and efficient services to association clients. They demand staff leadership and counsel. And with our breadth of experience and exposure to new ideas, we are in a strong position to help lead our associations.

Q. What do you mean by “continuity of management?”
A. When the manager of an association leaves for another job or is hospitalized for a long period, the elected officers are normally forced to spend weeks and perhaps months finding a replacement.

Specialist companies avoid that crisis. We are responsible for providing and replacing the staff executive, either from within our staff or by undertaking the hiring search ourselves. The company, not the individual, is the association manager - and is responsible for furnishing all staff personnel.

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