EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S CORNER
IMPORTANT UPDATES FROM THE BOARD’S STRATEGIC PLANNING SESSION
By Jonathan Banks
Sail America Executive Director
Following our Sailing Industry Conference, the Sail America Board of Directors met for two days for a strategic planning session. This wasn’t a regular board meeting, but a highly-focused retreat that allowed us to step away from the day-to-day fire-fighting aspect of our businesses so we could look at the bigger picture. As our association president Sally Helme expressed it, “We gathered to ask the big questions: why are we here, what is our mission, and how do we best go about achieving that mission?”
To aid us in this effort, we engaged an independent facilitator to make the meeting as efficient and productive as possible. Joe Thompson from Thompson Management led our group through an intensive process that allowed us to analyze our present positioning and consider our future.
We began by reviewing the results from a recent membership survey which focused on the challenges facing our member companies and the industry at large as well as measuring member’s satisfaction with Sail America’s services and benefits.
Some of the challenges facing members' companies included financial difficulties (i.e. profitability, margins and cash flow) followed by lack of sales, concerns with inventory levels, and workforce issues. Challenges facing the industry included how to connect with buyers, changing demographics, economic conditions, and financing issues.
The survey also focused on Sail America’s member benefits and membership satisfaction. The good news is that nearly 80 percent of our members are either satisfied or extremely satisfied with Sail America, while 21 percent are not satisfied. While we are happy to see the vast majority are satisfied, we also recognize that we need to improve our communications and provide greater value to our members. We welcomed the feedback and the chance it gave us to really understand what matters and is important to our valued members.
One of the goals of our planning session was to revisit our mission and core values. The outcome from this discussion was very forthright. Our top mission is to promote sailing, followed by supporting the sailing industry/marketplace, providing industry education, serving as the voice of sailing businesses, and being the catalyst for collaboration. In terms of our core values, we want Sail America to offer leadership and be collaborative, action-oriented, volunteer-based, and passionate.
The outcome of the Strategic Planning Meeting is that the board agreed that Sail America needs to focus its efforts on supporting and promoting the business of sailing. To achieve this goal we will:
- Develop a comprehensive sailing website that will become a major portal for consumers to connect with the sailing industry.
- Develop and adopt a clear mission statement and do a better job communicating Sail America’s role and membership benefits.
- Become the single best source of market data and industry information.
- Develop a clear boat show plan.
- Develop a database of individual sailors to share with Sail America members.
- Create a sustainable business model for the Association.
- Continue to provide ongoing education to our members.
Undoubtedly, there is much work ahead of us, but the good news is, we’re united and committed to making this happen. I personally appreciate the time, focus, hard work and dedicated effort of the Sail America board, and look forward to further collaboration as we work together to harness the collective power and strength of our industry to accomplish our mission.