[DML] DOA - Just a few thoughts...
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[DML] DOA - Just a few thoughts...



All,

My name is Steve Stratton and I am not a Delorean owner (yet.) But, I am a casual observer, dues paying DOA member and dues paying member and Vice-President of Bricklin International. I have met Marc, Kevin and a few other here at the joint DCS/BI show last year at Gettysburg, and I saw nothing that would question the integrity or love of the marquee of the Delorean owners that I met at the meet. From the go-karts, to the obstacle course, to the joint show, I think it is safe to say all owners of our respective cars (I have two Bricklins and no D...yet) are/would be very supportive of the club resources available to them; if they are available to them. 

That's key! 

Apart from the magazines (since Spring 2008), a few Stainless News Email newsletters, and the back issues that I received, what really sets DOA apart from DCS and DMCH? All produce a magazine of some sort, and I have received and read all of them except Gullwings (and bought back issues of each either from the vendor or Ebay), so I can say this with sincerity; all of the magazines have something to offer their respective readers. But, all of the magazines also have different goals for their publications. 

a.) Deloreans, published by DMCH seems to have a pure goal of supporting the car (which is, of course, their lifeblood), advising readers of new tips and tricks for vehicle upgrades to modernize the "D", and as an advertising platform for themselves to a certain degree. No harm, no foul. 

b.) DCS Magazine is a bi-yearly recap and buildup between the bi-annual DCS shows (not discounting the latest Vegas "West Coast" show, of course), some tips and tricks, and interviews and profiles of fellow owners, and some of the neat and interesting things that they have done with their cars. (And a healthy dose of BTTF info from time to time is included.)   

c.) Delorean World, published by DOA, seems to be a bit schizophrenic in its approach, but it appears to have steadied its aim over the last few issues. When I joined last year, I purchased a crate of back issues with my membership, and proceeded to read all of them over the summer during my morning and evening train rides into/from DC. What I could gather from those readings was in the earlier years (from Vol 3, Issue 4 through about Volume 9, issue 1, give or take) was a magazine that was very similar in style and content to what Bricklin International did/does with its Brickline Magazine. Very insightful tech tips, overview of shows both here and in Europe, and a profile or two of owners here and there, along with history of the marquee. Around the end of the last decade, it took a decidedly more "travelogue" tone and looked like it was attempting to be something it shouldn't. The quality of the magazine's materials (publishing stock, etc.) increased
 dramatically, but it also appeared to have taken on an air of exclusivity that perhaps was/should have been aimed a little lower. When reading the "DW" issues, the travel notes were nice, but it looked as though the editors were having a hard time finding content to fill the space, hence it erratic publishing schedule, according to the issue roster I have. The most recent few years worth of magazines, up until the latest issue was aimed back at what one would assume to be the "core" audience. 

Now, after reviewing the magazines and thinking about DOA, one has to ask a few questions: what can being a member of DOA do for me? And am I getting my moneys worth for the membership fees that I am charged? In simple economic terms, does my membership in DOA equate to the fees charged for it? I will not/cannot answer that question for the group, but speaking for myself, I am not so sure. The magazine back issues were worth the cost of my initial membership fees and purchasing, but without substantive items in the future, it becomes less and less of an agreeable purchase to continue on an annual basis, especially when I compare it to the other clubs I am a member of (Bricklin, DeTomaso, etc.).

For example, when I pay my $40 per year to Bricklin International, which is not-for-profit, I receive a 4 issue subscription to the Brickline Magazine, a discount on items that are sold through Bricklinalia, the club's store (this includes T-shirts, CD-ROM's of back issues of the magazine, chairs with logos, tech manuals, owner's manuals, glasses with the "B" logo on it, etc.), and the membership fees go to help produce both an East Coast and a West Coast meet yearly. We average around 350/400 members per year on a rolling basis; which for a car that only had around 2,900 of them produced, is better than 10% of that number. Not bad. We only have three or four vendors that deal exclusively with Bricklin in the world, so being a club member also puts you in contact with these people. And last but not least, the club membership fees also pays the hosting costs of www.bricklin.org, which includes an invaluable forum for discussing the marquee and getting
 advice on how to keep the cars on the road. I also know that we, as a club, only pay around $700 per year to JC Taylor for our club liability insurance, so basically 18 memberships cover that fee. 

Now, taking this into account, what can/could DOA do to make itself a viable entity from now into the future and leverage its membership fees so that they fall into a more manageable realm? (Thinking about basic statistics and marketing (and I work for the BLS, so go figure), if I produce a widget and that widget costs me $7.00 per unit to produce, would I charge $100.00 a widget? If I did, I may some widgets at first, but your numbers at that rate will drop off with time and once the newness of the widget fades, and then eventually you will be down to zero. If I sold the widgets at $20.00 each with an annual maintenance agreement of $20.00 each year and agree to be there to help support your widget, I do believe that you would sell a lot more widgets than with the first example. It does remind me of an old adage: you can shear a sheep many times, but only skin him once.)  Again, this is just my opinion, but DOA has a distinctive advantage over BI due to
 the fact that around 9,000 Deloreans were produced. Even at 10% of the total production, that means 900 members at an annual cost of $75.00 means the club would be generating revenue in the neighborhood of around $67,000 annually. I doubt the magazine costs that to create and mail. So, most members would rightly be wondering when they receive their annual renewals, what did I get for my money? Two or three magazines and an email newsletter do not equal $75.00 in most folk’s minds. So, my two cents worth on this issue are:

1.) Take a hard look at the overall costs of the club and figure out where your break point is, based on current membership numbers minus 10% and then create your dues based on that amount. I'll bet when you do, you'll find your figure around $40 - 50 annually.  

2.) For the board, look at the printing and mailing costs for the magazine and if you believe that you're paying too much for production of the magazine, do not hesitate to tell your printer that you want to renegotiate the terms of the contract. If you have been using the same printer for years, he may feel that the board is too lazy to pursue other deals. Let them know that you are going to be putting out a RFP to other printers and advise them that they will be competing against others in the field. For BI, our magazine costs around $3,000 per issue, inclusive of mailings, and that give us north of 500 issues. And this is for a magazine that has 32 pages, give or take, color wrap-around cover, and for which the editor has one six Golden Quill Awards for best Auto Club magazine. 

3.) Look at your insurance costs and shop around.  

4.) Have someone convert all of the back issues of Delorean World to PDF format, burn them to CD or DVD-ROM and then sell them to new members. This gives you a new revenue stream, as I am sure the number of printed back issues that you have is probably dwindling, and provides these older issues with all of their technical information to new members/new Delorean owners.  

5.) Use some of the remaining funds from the annual fees to assist with registration fees for DCS events. (This would have to be worked out with Ken Koncelik, of course, but an idea would be to sponsor, say, the first 100 DOA members who register for DCS with a 10% or 20% registration fee discount, which then DOA would pay to DCS from its leftover membership fees. Another idea would be to sponsor, let's say, a Thursday night cookout at a DCS for all attendees, and then have someone work a booth to accept memberships.)

6.) Work with the vendors (DMC, PJ Grady, etc...) and offer memberships and info through them to new purchasers of the marquee. I know, for Bricklin, we only have the few vendors that we have, and they all recommend club memberships to those that call on them. But, make it worthwhile for the vendors to do it. If they push a DOA membership, and it is too expensive and the people do not get their money's worth from the membership, the person is not going to only not renew their membership, they will also potentially take it out on the vendor by holding them accountable for pushing it, and maybe will not return to them. So, make a DOA membership and the value behind it something that the vendor will not hesitate to get behind. (And advertise in, for that matter!)     

7.) Last, but not least, you have to remember that creating and maintaining a car club is to also bring credit and knowledge about a marquee to people that would not otherwise know of it, and to insure that the club is around for years after the current board is gone. So, be sure to bank a small percentage of memberships for those lean years when revenues may be down. This will allow you to keep putting out the magazine, and providing the return on investment to the club members that stick with you.

These are just my thoughts, and I hope some good ideas for those that want them. I am looking forward to seeing you all next year in Kentucky at the joint DCS/Bricklin Meet, and hopefully we will be able to do the obstacle course again, because I am still in shock that the "D"s won all three trophy's. At some point I will join most of you as a "D" owner, but until that time...

Take care,

Steve Stratton

Bricklin VIN's #2856 & 2889




> > 2.1. Re: DOA/DCS

> >     Posted by: "Michael Substelny" msubstel@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

> 

> > drivestainless

> >     Date: Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:00 am ((PDT))

> > 

> > Josh, I recommend that the DOA board investigate how

> other car clubs 

> > do it.  The insurance, publications, etc. cannot be

> too different from 

> > one national car club to another.  Compared to its

> peers, the DOA's 

> > $75 price tag seems awfully steep.   Here are some

> examples:

> > 

[moderator snip]


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