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Secrets to Receiving Superior Assn Management Proposals
Date: January 1, 2011
From: Steve Drake

Many associations and not-for-profit organizations find contracting with an association management company an attractive alternative to hiring its own staff. Just as those organizations seek a management firm that fits its needs, AMCs seek association clients that meet their expertise, and most AMCs have a profile of their "ideal” client. Certain key factors make the Request for Proposal (RFP) process more successful for both parties.

RFP Drives Responses

To receive outstanding proposals, the RFP should be specific and in-depth about the needs of either organization. The association must decide what it needs to know about the companies it will evaluate. The management company also needs to know specific information about the association and what services it needs. To assist associations in the search for a management company, the AMC Institute has several documents on its website which outline all the information needed to prepare a proposal.

AMCs invest considerable time and money to respond to proposals. As a result, most AMCs carefully screen RFPs to determine whether this investment is worthwhile. Many do not respond to RFPs mailed to all AMCs.  There are different ways to determine which management company is best for your organization.  Some AMCs work with the general market and others target certain industries. As an alternative, associations should consider creating a profile of desired AMC characteristics, including location, size, staff capabilities and other clients.

Seven Steps to AMC Selection:

  1. Complete the RFP form found on the AMC Institute website. The detailed information an association will need to prepare a proposal can be found there.
  2. AMC Institute members will receive notice of the new RFP. Be sure to allow at least 30 to 45 days for members to evaluate your RFP and prepare proposals. (A comprehensive proposal takes staff time and commitment to prepare.)
  3. To supplement information provided by the AMCs, use the AMC Institute membership directory. The basic search allows you to select an AMC by name and location. Click on individual firms names to see a complete profile of each AMC. The advanced search, located on the same page, allows you to find AMCs and vendors and suppliers based on types of services needed or even size.
  4. Take time to develop your selection criteria. Develop a check-off list and prioritize what’s most important for your organization. Is the size of the company critical? What about location? This will help you as you review the proposals. Consider narrowing the AMCs to four or five semi-finalists.
  5. Once you receive contact or proposals from the interested AMCs, evaluate the management firms under consideration.  Conduct site visits to each of the offices. Use an established list of commonly asked questions so the same information is gathered from each visit.
  6. Invite those AMCs under consideration for face-to-face presentations. Be sure to provide at least 21 workdays notice so the AMCs can work the presentation into it schedules.
  7. Select the AMC and discuss a contract. Due to the costs of preparing a proposal, most AMCs will want a contract for at least three years, but most will provide a clause allowing either party to terminate the agreement with a 60-180 day notice. A sample AGREEMENT/CONTRACT can be found here.

A comprehensive RFP should also include a cover letter summarizing the organization and its size, scope, needs and the proposal timetable. It is important to indicate notification to the current firm and disclose if it will submit a proposal.

An accurate current financial statement and budget helps the management company determine if it  "fits” with the association. Include any financial or legal issues that impact the business. Also request a transition plan and estimated costs from the current management to the new management company. Ask for a description of the management company, which should include its current clients with references.

Selecting the right AMC for the association helps create a partnership that can power the growth and development of an organization. This selection begins with creating a detailed RFP and sending it to AMCs who demonstrate their professionalism through AMC Institute membership.

Steve Drake is president of SCD gROUP, iNC., a nationally-recognized, award-winning Association Management Company located near St. Louis, MO. He can be reached at STEVE@SCDGROUP.NET or at www.scdgroup.net.

Downloadable Resources

application/pdf iconSample Contract (PDF)(filesize 76.52 KB)

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