In a down
economy, falling revenues, and a slow market - such as what many surveying and
mapping firms are experiencing today - wise business owners and managers are
implementing numerous cost cutting strategies.
Nonessential expenditures are being eliminated, belts are being
tightened, and even some employees are being laid off.
perilous times, one expense that entrepreneurs should resist eliminating is
membership in key associations. Such
organizations provide a return on investment that can help a firm survive a
recession. Terminating a firm’s
membership in an association can be short sighted – penny wise and pound
foolish, to use an old expression. Here
are a few reasons why.
geospatial community is very different from other professions, as well as industries
in other fields. Today, surveying,
mapping and GIS projects require a multitude of skills, talents, capabilities,
specialties, and capacity. Often, one
firm cannot reasonably or profitably accomplish a full project. Rather, firms engage in teaming, partnering
and prime/sub contracting on many projects.
Many associations are a great way to stay connected with "coop-etition” or "competimates” – firms that are
sometimes competitors but also a partner or source of business.
Bob Hickey, Senior
Vice President of Photo Science, Inc. West Chester, PA, says attending MAPPS
conference is an enormous savings in time and money. "I can see 20 clients - principals of firms
we work - with, at a MAPPS meeting, where it would take me weeks, and thousands
of dollars in airfare, hotels, and other expenses to see these same colleagues
MAPPS membership surveys have indicated that such networking is a top rated
benefit of membership in MAPPS. Many
firms use their membership in the association as a primary business development
joined MAPPS, we immediately recognized it as a venue to develop sources of
business,” said Dave Hart, President of Continental Mapping Consultants, Inc., Sun
in associations also often leads to referrals.
The more the staff of the association knows about your firm, the more
likely they are to provide a referral.
The MAPPS office regularly gets calls from entities seeking a firm for
geospatial services. We always give
multiple recommendations, or refer the inquirer to the MAPPS web site, but when
a specific capability, technology or geographic area is requested, it is
helpful that we know the MAPPS members’ specializations.
staff is also a cost effective resource for its member firms. We save our members time and money responding
to inquiries that would otherwise take a firm hours to investigate. Questions about small business set aside
policies in the Federal government, where to get SF330 software, who offers
professional liability insurance for mapping firms, how is the Service Contract
Act implemented, or who has an aircraft and camera in South America are just a
few of the questions we’ve recently answered for members. The cost of membership in MAPPS, and access
to the staff, is significantly less that the cost of using an outside attorney
or consultant to answer these questions.
While the MAPPS staff does not provide legal advice, we often have
information about laws, regulations, legislation and government policies at our
fingertips. In many cases, our knowledge is first hand, as we’ve been involved
in working with Congress or the government agencies on these issues.
also a great advocate for individual firms.
When a member firm of MAPPS encounters a government agency engaging in
unfair competition, for violating a Brooks Act requirement, that firm can bring
the incident to the attention of MAPPS staff for action. Such breaches of MAPPS-endorsed policy are
brought to the attention of proper authorities for remedy and rectification, in
the name of MAPPS in order to protect the anonymity of any firm. Correcting a wayward government agency’s
action that violates MAPPS principles, and does not result in favoritism of one
member firm over another, is a service MAPPS staff provides to its
members. Again, retaining outside help
on such a matter is not only costly, but exposes a firm in front of the very
client-agency with which the firm is attempting to do business.
How can one
cut costs? Firms are looking at more
cost effective ways to market, sell, promote, partner and collect
information. One business development
executive recently said rather than having a booth at some conferences, he’s
opting for a sponsorship. That provides
exposure without all the expense of the staff, shipping and materials of the
exhibit hall. Another said he is cutting
back on production personnel attendance at technical conferences in favor of
business development employees attending conferences where potential clients,
with "coop-etition” or
"competimates” are in attendance.
are not like a spigot. They cannot be turned on and off and expected to always
be the same. They take care and feeding. A short term absence from membership in MAPPS
can lead to long term damage.
economy where you are counting every dollar, it’s good to know you can count on