Money & Business

Group Crafts Strategic Plan to Help Members Navigate Pandemic-Related Impacts

By / Oct 22, 2020 (Olivier Le Moal/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Knowing its members were significantly affected by the pandemic, TRSA, the association for linen, uniform, and facility services, realized it needed to shift priorities. With expert and member input, the group launched a new strategic plan to keep focused on goals that would help its members survive.

TRSA, the association for linen, uniform, and facility services, knew that pandemic-related closures meant its members wouldn’t be able to do business in the same way. So, in early April, the organization decided to create a new strategic plan.

“The pandemic happened, and we immediately went into response mode and what we best could do for our members,” said Joseph Ricci, CAE, TRSA president and CEO.

The association has always tried to be responsive to member needs, surveying them quarterly on business development issues. When the pandemic hit, the board opted to embark on a strategic change initiative to make sure TRSA was heading in the right direction and would meet members’ changing needs.

“At the beginning of the year, 100 percent of our members thought they would meet or exceed their budget goals,” Ricci said. “By the end of March, people thought they’d be down 90 percent. We knew they were suffering, and we made it clear we had to reconsider strategic plan and that we really valued their input.”

Part of the initiative included gathering input from outside experts and members. “We said, let’s get some experts in here who can tell us the megatrends that would be accelerated by the pandemic,” Ricci said. “We hired an outside group to help us facilitate a virtual strategic town hall. They did interviews and surveyed members, and then we appointed market sector recovery task forces. We let [members] lead and facilitate the discussion so they were sharing the information.”

With that input and data in hand, TRSA decided to focus its strategic priorities on four areas. The first is advocacy, which includes proactive discussions with legislators and keeping an eye on what’s happening.

“Part of it is recovery and the PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] and things our industry needs to survive,” Ricci said. “What are [legislators] going to implement, and how can we further protect our industry and help them prosper?”

The three other strategic priorities are promoting the industry and its hygiene initiatives, developing more customer safety and supervisor training, and increasing the communication and the exchange of information.

On that last point of information exchange, Ricci noted that TRSA was able to help guide members to suppliers, as supply chains were greatly affected in the early days of the pandemic.

With the new priorities, the organization hopes to move forward in the trenches with members, while still providing value. “We knew this year, because dues are based on a [company’s U.S. revenue], we were going to see less dues,” Ricci said. “We’ve had to tighten our belt to provide the most for the industry with the least cost.”

Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is an associate editor at Associations Now. She covers money and business. Email her with story ideas or news tips. More »

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