Two Michigan entrepreneurs recently developed an app that helps consumers find member benefits they’re entitled to but aren’t getting. And it’s starting to catch on. Cofounder Andrew Bank explains the benefits for associations.
Larky cofounders Andrew Bank and Gregg Hammerman, who between them have more than 18 years of experience in the association world, aren’t just trying to improve the discount shopping model for consumers.
The pair are working to bring more business to associations and organizations with an app that helps consumers take better advantage of discounts and benefits from various clubs or members-only organizations.
Bank answered some questions about the app for Associations Now.
Explain how the idea for your app came about and how it works.
First, we think that discounts are broken. Lots of people hunt for discount codes and special deals and this often pays off with enough time and smarts. But millions of people are actually entitled to discounts that they are not getting. We think that people should get discounts automatically when they’re entitled and they shouldn’t have to go searching for anything.
My cofounder, Gregg Hammerman, went into a Florida children’s museum with his family on vacation. He was about to pay $60 when he thought to ask if his membership in his local Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum got him any special discounts at the Florida place. It did. Because of a reciprocal agreement between hundreds of museums and science centers, his admission was free!
If members are getting more of their member discounts, these are going to be happier members.
It occurred to him that he has loads of memberships under his belt—AAA, Costco, alumni association, professionals association, credit cards, etc.—and he wondered what else he was entitled to but wasn’t getting.
It turns out that 120 million Americans have three or more memberships, and a huge portion of those memberships provide worthwhile perks and discounts. We estimate that the average user can save $1,000 per year if they get just a fraction of what they’re entitled to.
But most people can’t keep track of all their member discounts, and more important, they can’t remember to use them at the right time and place. So consumers are leaving all this money on the table. It’s really a broken system and we knew that we could fix it.
We developed Larky to help users save that $1,000 per year or more by getting all the membership discounts they deserve.
What are the major benefits that businesses, associations, and organizations would get from consumers using your app?
Overall, Larky increases awareness and usage of member discounts.
If members are getting more of their member discounts, these are going to be happier members. Happier members translates to stronger loyalty, higher renewal rates, and most important, greater income from royalty-generating discount partners. So in the end, Larky actually generates new incremental income for associations.
We are also collecting valuable data on perks performance and member behavior and we deliver that insight back to association partners. For example, we can tell an association how much their members are saving using their member discounts, and we can tell them what other memberships are prominent among their audience.
The merchants offering these discounts are going to see increased usage of those discounts and stronger affinity/loyalty to the merchants.
What has the reaction from the business community been like? Have organizations offered up any concerns or suggestions?
Reaction has been super positive. Frankly, nobody is screaming out for “a solution to increase awareness and usage of member discounts,” but nearly everybody we have talked to recognizes this as a latent need and a huge opportunity to add value to membership, influence renewal rates, and generate new income.
What’s the long-term goal of Larky? How will associations benefit from the app in the future?
We plan to integrate with electronic payment systems including mobile payments like Google Wallet, PayPal, Square, and more. Imagine paying with PayPal and getting your AAA discount automatically. We think we can make that happen if you’re using Larky.
Associations will gain a valuable new element of membership. Today, they offer these perks and discounts but nobody is really getting them. With Larky, their members will actually save all they’re supposed to and that means significant added value of membership. When it comes time to renew, members will see that they’ve saved X amount of dollars from their membership, and then renewal decisions should become rubber-stamp renewals.
If I knew that my member discounts would pay for my membership, I’d say “sign me up for a 10-year!”