Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Summer 2020 - Cycle Magazine announcement about membership changes
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RayP
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Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by RayP »

I read with dismay the PR from CUK urging members to vote for a change in membership structure. In effect this is a change in fee structure for the purpose of increasing revenue. With a long term trend of falling membership numbers this had to come about as it is not possible to continue providing the same service level with declining income.

The downwards trend in membership over the last 5 years and more show that CUK has not been able to identify a strategy and develop a plan at ground level which can generate new members. As as a result it is now proposing a strategy which seeks to generate more cash from existing members. Building the membership base is imperative if there is to be a future for CUK. A strategy of increasing prices is the easy default for organisations who are facing a future of falling market share and revenue - it will not help build membership.

The stated objective is to open up membership to the people on lower incomes. Although a laudable goal this seems impractical and untested. I am not aware of research which indicates those on lower incomes are keen to join a cycling club and in particular want to spend their disposable income on the benefits which CUK can provide. CUK need to show that this market does exist and that it is price sensitive. It has not done this. A more pragmatic approach is needed and one that is led by market conditions and not altruism.

Its not surprising that the changes target those over 65. CUK membership is heavily skewed towards the older generation. This membership niche own a bike and clearly have disposable income to use to join CUK so they are probably categorised as "able to pay" the increase. There is thus likely to be insignificant loss of revenue as a result of over 65s transitioning to the concessionary rate. This suggests that this strategy is the result of a thought process of how to increase revenue rather than of how to increase membership. However, although the strategy is wrong the spin used to present the message must be admired. Using the message of ability to pay rather than age uses the social guilt angle to motivate the voting decision as who can argue against wanting to support the needy!
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Philip Benstead
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Re: Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by Philip Benstead »

It should be noted that the stated aim of the CUK according to the Chair of CUK is too get millions more cycling. There is no suggestion that these millions would become members/financial supports of CUK.

IMHO

Even though a laudable aim it is totally impractical.

It should be noted that as a percentage of the population OR as a percentage of the cycling population the number of members of non-completive cycling organizations is lower in the Netherlands than in the UK.

The main aim of getting more to cycle has caused the CTC/CUK to neglects its members and so failed to increase members. This in turn requires the opportunity to get more cycling.

The CTC as never had any trouble obtaining members it is keeping them.

This policy of increasing membership fees for seniors is based upon non represented sample. I understand from the Trustee minutes that there was a survey of members from North Wales and Chester and from the Bristol area.
I made some enquired from active members in the Bristol area about this survey they had not heard anything about it.
it will result in a further reduction in membership numbers.
Has there been any financial Forecasting as to possible outcomes if the loss of any senior members is not offset by uptake of low-income memebers?

Additionally, has there been any forecasting of the loss members who are volunteers?

The way it has been handle and communicated is cack-handed.
Philip Benstead | Life Member Former CTC Councillor/Trustee
Organizing events and representing cyclist in southeast since 1988
Bikeability Instructor/Mechanic
Georgina Cox
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Re: Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by Georgina Cox »

Hi, in response to the above points. The proposed changes and review of membership has been brought about following the strategy set by the Board back in 2018 to grow the membership and supporter base to 100,000 - so growth has always been the driver for the changes. To be able to encourage more people to join us, we need to create a fairer and more accessible membership, be more relevant to different types of people of different abilities who may be interested in all types of cycling, as well as be able to invest and resource in acquiring new members and offer a better experience (eg with more tailored communications) for existing members.

We are delighted to be at our highest membership ever at over 70,000 so are confident that the work we've been doing in supporting and therefore appealing to a wider demographic (keyworkers, women, new cyclists and commuters specifically since Covid) will set us in good stead for future growth.

We have a fantastic retention rate at above 90% (this is above the benchmark average for similar membership organisations) and this has been steady for some years.

The research undertaken was carried out in late 2019. We invited all members for whom we were able to email to take part in one of two surveys - one was about membership and the other was about our brand.

Many thanks
Georgina Cox, Head of Membership
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Philip Benstead
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Re: Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by Philip Benstead »

Georgina Cox wrote:Hi, in response to the above points. The proposed changes and review of membership has been brought about following the strategy set by the Board back in 2018 to grow the membership and supporter base to 100,000 - so growth has always been the driver for the changes. To be able to encourage more people to join us, we need to create a fairer and more accessible membership, be more relevant to different types of people of different abilities who may be interested in all types of cycling, as well as be able to invest and resource in acquiring new members and offer a better experience (eg with more tailored communications) for existing members.

We are delighted to be at our highest membership ever at over 70,000 so are confident that the work we've been doing in supporting and therefore appealing to a wider demographic (keyworkers, women, new cyclists and commuters specifically since Covid) will set us in good stead for future growth.

We have a fantastic retention rate at above 90% (this is above the benchmark average for similar membership organisations) and this has been steady for some years.

The research undertaken was carried out in late 2019. We invited all members for whom we were able to email to take part in one of two surveys - one was about membership and the other was about our brand.

Many thanks
Georgina Cox, Head of Membership



The 70,000 membership, is that paid up current members?
I find the 90% retention rate hard to belive.
Why is it that active members who are officers of the local members group in the Bristor area had not heard of the survey?
What evidance do you have that these different types of people will join and will offset any loss?
Philip Benstead | Life Member Former CTC Councillor/Trustee
Organizing events and representing cyclist in southeast since 1988
Bikeability Instructor/Mechanic
RayP
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Re: Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by RayP »

Some excellent points and observations made by members and sadly some poor use of statistics by CUK commentators.

Behind my original post is the understanding that for the last 5,if not 10, years the market performance of CUK has been poor.Thus suggesting a management team either not fully in control or lacking the skills and perception to manage the organisation.

Wonderful figures of 70,000 members in 2020(??) have been quoted. However, this figure needs to be viewed in the perspective of the market and the CUK’s historic market performance. An analysis of publicly available data (including CUK reports) shows.

1) Between 2011-2019 the market /demand for cycle club membership (such as (CUK) grew by more than 9% year on year.
2) Over this same period membership of CUK fell by 0.8% year on year. In a growing marker CUK could not even stand still!
3) By comparison a key rival, British Cycling (which also leads and is involved in campaigns to encourage cycling), grew its membership by over 18% year on year.
4) Over the 5 years between 2014 and 2019 CUK has seen its market share fall from more than 40% to just around 30%.

So to summarise:
The boast that membership has reached 70,000 is just that - an unjustifiable boast.

In an fast expanding market CUK has over the last 5 years at best maintained its membership numbers (but only just) but has lost and probably is continuing to loose market share.

The management capability of any organisation (charity or commercial enterprise) which is unable to grow its membership/revenue at at least the same rate as the market has to be questioned.

It is against this background that I am suggesting that the proposed policy of restructuring membership is wrong and seems to me to be the actions of a management team not in control of the organisations market presence.

A bar chart of CUK membership versus British Cycling membership follows. This has been made from figures published in CUK annual reports and data taken from British Cycling documents. It suggests a very slow but steady downwards trend in CUK membership since 2013.
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CUKMarket.jpg
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Paulatic
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Re: Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by Paulatic »

Ah 2013 the year of 10000 new members
viewtopic.php?t=82530
Now if that was on top of earlier years growth
gaz wrote:The numbers are in the annual reports.

Individual members as at
30 Sept 2009?: 62383 (figure is actually described as end of 2009)
30 Sept 2008 : 59804
30 Sept 2007 : 58496
.
viewtopic.php?t=47703
Then surely membership would have hit 70000 back then?

They didn’t did they so to only reach 70000 in the year 2020 doesn’t seem that great of an achievement. If the growth between 2007 & 9 had been maintained then 70000 would have been met in 2013. The fact it didn’t suggests there’s been a lot of unfounded crowing over the years of how successful things are.

I’ve been one of those members PB describes as easy to get and hard to maintain over the last 30 yrs. When I was a member of an active AG which later turned into a MG I was keen to remain. My last attempt to support around 5 years ago I’m fairly confident will be my last. There are no club benefits which attract me. I have insurance, I wouldn’t use S&G, and I’ve rarely a need to visit Halfords. The Birthday Rides are a shadow of their former self and no events that catch my eye. I don’t mind supporting cycle campaigning and those less fortunate than me. I’ve been giving my money direct to local campaigns and charities. I used to know lots of members 20 years ago. Now I know a few and they all describe themselves as ‘unfortunately life members'

This current attack on older members seems to becoming common with modern thinking by younger people in many walks of life. I paid full rates all my working life, along with a 30% basic income tax, while pensioners and unemployed got concessions. Not once did I moan about that and accepted it as the natural order. I’d assumed my full subscription along with concession revenue kept organisations going. That formula isn’t working for CUK for whatever reason but I fail to see further alienating older members as a way forward.
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Oldjohnw
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Re: Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by Oldjohnw »

I agree with Paulatic above.

Also, many join something where the people are broadly similarly minded. They do not join to change minds or change the world, even though many of these objectives are of merit in other contexts.
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RayP
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Re: Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by RayP »

MEMBERSHIP FIGURES AND GROWTH IN CYCLING support the assertion of poor strategic management
CUK membership figures and CUKs ability to decide a plan consistent with market reality is central to this debate. My contention is that there is overwhelming evidence that CUK has not been able to strategically manage the organisation to keep pace with the incredible growth in demand for membership or the increase in cycling in the past and hence its decision to restructure the membership is unsafe and should not proceed.

With an average year on year growth of (minus) -0.8% in membership CUK has at best stood still when all others have moved forward with significant growth. Below are the data on which I base this assertion.

The membership figures have been taken from official CUK reports and British Cycling public documents. Pedal cycle traffic and distance ridden each year are from government data. It is clear that cycling activity has been increasing over the years. Activity as measured by govt stats has increased by on average 1-1.5% year on year for the last 7 years. Demand for membership of a cycling organisation has increased by more than on average 9% year on year over the same period. However over that period CUK has presided over a slow decline in membership numbers.
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CUKMarket Indiators.jpg
CUKGrowth.jpg
Cyril Haearn
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Re: Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by Cyril Haearn »

I think CUK should merge with BC
Is that possible, what sort of legal entity is BC?
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Bazza55
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Re: Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by Bazza55 »

The CTC membership has remained stagnant for a number of years now. The organisation loses members as fast as it recruits them and as far as I am aware, it is the only national cycling organisation that has not seen a growth.(BC, RSF, Clarion, Audax UK etc) The Trustees need to research the reasons why this is so, but I can offer them some help. Next year take a trip up to the York Cycle Rally and mingle with some of the cyclists on the knavesmire and talk to them, they will soon discover that many continue their membership, but reluctantly and others will say that they stopped renewing their membership in the last 8 years. They will quote two reasons for this 1) They can obtain cheaper third party insurance elsewhere 2) Since changing to a charity, the organisation have distanced themselves from the membership. I have met plenty of ex members that have since joined BC, but have yet to meet someone who has left BC to join the CTC. The membership subscription review and the increase of full subscription to 65 will see an exodus from the CTC and force even more members to seek alternative services with more membership friendly organisations.
nicola.marshall
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Re: Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by nicola.marshall »

Hello

I'm Nicola Marshall, the director responsible for membership at Cycling UK.

Thanks for all the feedback on the proposals in this thread. There are a number of different threads so I've posted one (very long) reply here viewtopic.php?f=56&t=140092 in case that is helpful.

Please do feel free to get in touch with me directly if you would like to discuss the proposals, we really welcome feedback. Just email membership@cyclinguk.org and ask for it to be forwarded to me.

Best wishes
Nicola
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mjr
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Re: Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by mjr »

Cyril Haearn wrote:I think CUK should merge with BC
Is that possible, what sort of legal entity is BC?

Limited Company (actually CLG), similar to CUK, but its dependence on government would be incompatible with CUK's charitable status, which would make any merger painful at best, needing the charitable funds to be kept at arm's length from the BC board.

I suspect it would also have to surrender CUK's gambling licence because sport governing bodies can't run gambling, but I could be wrong about that.

But would it make any sense? BC is a federation of sports clubs engaged in non-sport cycling mainly as a service to its supporters and fans. CUK is a charity that arose from touring clubs with non-sport also at its core. BC merging into CUK would make more sense but neither BC (due to its greater size and income) nor gov.uk (due to its seats on BC board) would allow that.
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Cyril Haearn
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Re: Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by Cyril Haearn »

Is there any reason why there are two large organisations serving motorists interests? Why do they not merge?
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atoz
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Re: Membership changes suggest poor strategic management

Post by atoz »

Yes I have to agree. Much as though we'd all like to increase membership levels, the proposals do feel like it's like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Not so long ago a well known political party realised it's offer wasn't too impressive, elected a leader with some convictions (shock horror), got some radical policies together, and succeeded in raising party membership enormously. Unfortunately some of the convictions got "lost" which made the party an easy target for the Brexit types, coupled with infighting and general incompetence. We know what happened next.

Unless Cycling UK get it's act together, the same fate befalls it.

RayP wrote:Some excellent points and observations made by members and sadly some poor use of statistics by CUK commentators.

Behind my original post is the understanding that for the last 5,if not 10, years the market performance of CUK has been poor.Thus suggesting a management team either not fully in control or lacking the skills and perception to manage the organisation.

Wonderful figures of 70,000 members in 2020(??) have been quoted. However, this figure needs to be viewed in the perspective of the market and the CUK’s historic market performance. An analysis of publicly available data (including CUK reports) shows.

1) Between 2011-2019 the market /demand for cycle club membership (such as (CUK) grew by more than 9% year on year.
2) Over this same period membership of CUK fell by 0.8% year on year. In a growing marker CUK could not even stand still!
3) By comparison a key rival, British Cycling (which also leads and is involved in campaigns to encourage cycling), grew its membership by over 18% year on year.
4) Over the 5 years between 2014 and 2019 CUK has seen its market share fall from more than 40% to just around 30%.

So to summarise:
The boast that membership has reached 70,000 is just that - an unjustifiable boast.

In an fast expanding market CUK has over the last 5 years at best maintained its membership numbers (but only just) but has lost and probably is continuing to loose market share.

The management capability of any organisation (charity or commercial enterprise) which is unable to grow its membership/revenue at at least the same rate as the market has to be questioned.

It is against this background that I am suggesting that the proposed policy of restructuring membership is wrong and seems to me to be the actions of a management team not in control of the organisations market presence.

A bar chart of CUK membership versus British Cycling membership follows. This has been made from figures published in CUK annual reports and data taken from British Cycling documents. It suggests a very slow but steady downwards trend in CUK membership since 2013.
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