TexasBarCLE reviewed the budgets of each of their 90 CLE live offerings and met with staff to discuss how to improve the revenue and expenses for each course. They continue to have two meetings with their planning teams for each course: 1) prior to planning the course to discuss where to improve and what worked well and 2) to price the course based on such items as staff travel, meeting costs, number of speakers, publicity, printing and amenities. Upon doing this, TexasBarCLE saved $650,000 in expense relating to their course programs last fiscal year.
During the recession, TexasBarCLE became even more ambitious about handling every aspect of the operation like a true business and redefining what success means and how to get there. Our mission is to achieve the greatest possible educational outreach with the highest quality CLE, provide a rich CLE experience in a wide variety of formats, and return optimum financial results to the Bar.
Our methods require the creativity and intense collaboration of the entire TexasBarCLE staff, and include a vigorous examination through a business lens of every part of our operation. Staff specialists participate in business meetings starting 38 weeks in advance of every course. We discuss a top-to-bottom evaluation of the prior year’s course to spot improvements that can be made if we start early enough. These improvements are relayed to the course director and planning committee prior to the planning meeting to ensure every year’s course is planned with “fresh eyes,” to keep the good, lose the bad, and avoid just “turning the crank.”
We research course financials, evaluations and demographics, and focus on (1) things that take a long time to plan, like recruiting additional sponsorship revenue, (2) things that need to be done very early, like getting the course director to agree to fewer speakers, which reduces expenses, (3) acting on registrants’ suggestions from course evaluations that will improve course content, outreach or experience, like adding a hot topic, or (4) surveying the course demographics for improvements in targeting our audience, course location, marketing focus and pricing.
Following procedures like these helped us save 10% on expenses as compared to budget last fiscal year, to deliver gross revenues 2% in excess of budget expectations, and to return to the Bar a net gain 43%better than budget.
We are thrilled that our new more businesslike approach has contributed to TexasBarCLE’s recent success and plan on even more gains. We will continue to ask ourselves “If this were my own company, what actions would I take to keep customers happy, grow the customer base, enhance the customer experience, and improve the bottom line?”