The Path Forward…
By: Greg Hill, JD, CAE
In 2016, the Colorado Dental Association (CDA) began a five-year strategic plan focused on growing membership and restructuring its governance to increase internal capacity to better serve its members. As that five-year plan is nearing a conclusion, I want to reflect on a few of its key successes and discuss the work that is going into our next strategic plan.
While membership continued to grow during the first half of the 2010’s, the CDA’s market share began a decline that ultimately resulted in nearly ten-percent loss in its market share. As has been reported to the House of Delegates in previous years, this loss of market share resulted in substantial unrealized income loss to the association. The 2016 Strategic Plan focused directly on membership growth and increasing the market share of the CDA. The result of this plan has been a stabilization of the market share resulting in a significant increase in revenue, with no increase in dues for two consecutive years.
Financially, we repositioned our reserves, which underperformed the market for much of the decade, into a strong, revenue-generating asset that is offsetting nearly $100,000 in program and administrative costs in the operational budget. This has allowed us to grow the organization and provide more funding into the programs and services without increasing dues. The board has also funded a secondary reserve to support added legal and governmental relations needs, continued upgrades to the IT (Information Technology) infrastructure, and to support the strategic plan.
A goal many forward-thinking associations have been trying to achieve is the creation of a customized member experience to meet the specific individualized needs of each CDA member. Information, products, and services that you engage with as a member are unique to you. The CDA has engaged the services of our managed IT firm to aide our selection of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software solution. This solution will stack on the Aptify membership system to allow us to become smarter in how we communicate and market products and services to our membership. In time, this will create an experience unique to you, just as you have come to expect with services you use every day like Amazon and Netflix.
Our for-profit subsidiary, CDA Enterprises, continues to grow. We are working to change the perception of our strategic business partner solutions (endorsed companies) by moving away from a discount club model, focused on cost savings, to an engaged business partner solution for you and your practice. We have made significant changes to our partner portfolio, bringing stronger business partners to help your dental practice succeed. As a mark of that growth, CDAE has launched an innovation incubator we call the Dental Enterprise Institute. This arm is focused on developing non-dues revenue and leveraging innovation and entrepreneurship within the profession. The first venture is a podcast focusing on the business of dentistry, connecting dental industry leaders with dentists and dental partners across the country.
During our last strategic plan, the board was asked what the success of the plan looked like. One comment that has always stuck out to me is a comment from a board member who said the “CDA is running like a very efficient business.” This leads to the next iteration of the strategic plan. Through the lens of business resilience, the board recognizes that COVID has dramatically accelerated business change and the technology pushing that change. If the CDA is to remain the innovative leader in the dental profession, it must move the needle significantly forward. By putting modern business tools in its toolbox, such as CRM solution, business analytics software, artificial intelligence, and software collaboration, the CDA is in a much stronger position to empower members’ success in the future.
The next strategic plan is designed to invest deeper into that business model, create better engagement opportunities, and enhanced customer service to better serve you and your practice. The CDA has hired a facilitator who brings extensive healthcare innovation and industry connections. Through this work, we have begun to identify comprehensive solutions to member’s challenges. As this work continues, we are looking to reshape our value proposition as a key day-to-day part of your practice success.
As you can no doubt see, the work the CDA does across the enterprise is complex, but you are fortunate to have an outstanding team of staff, leadership, board, and council members who are passionate about the profession and are working to ready this association for its future.
Greg Hill, JD, CAE has served as the Executive Director of the Colorado Dental Association since June of 2014. Prior to joining the CDA, Greg was employed by the Kansas Dental Association for 15 years and served as the Assistant Executive Director of the CDA and Executive Director of its Foundation. Mr. Hill is a 1999 graduate of the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, KS and a 1994 graduate of Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics. He became a Certified Association Executive (CAE) in 2016. In addition, he serves as Co-Chair and Treasurer of Oral Health Colorado; on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Dental Lifeline Network and the Colorado Mission of Mercy; and is a member of the Denver Tech Center Rotary Club. He and his wife, Gwen, are the parents of daughter, Haven, and son, Camden.