connections management news

March 2016
Vol. 15, Number 2

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
SIG News
Member News
monica zinchiak
Monica Zinchiak

From the President

Monica Zinchiak,

economic highlights

Fiscal reserves have steadily increased since 2011. The slight downturn in 2015 is reflective of the pre-paid expenses surrounding the Worldwide Conference in Vienna. This conference is projected to cover these expenses and produce a small profit for the organization in 2016. QRCA’s real sustainability and profitability comes from the Annual Conference with the combined income of conference attendance and sponsorship revenue. The next Annual Conference event will be in January 2017 and the pre-event deposits required will effectively give the appearance of a minor dip in 2016 revenue as well. However, the board has planned for this situation by reducing some expenses associated with producing this event, namely moving it out of Q4 (conference season) when venues are at peak pricing.

Revenue from membership dues is the most important source of income for QRCA. 2015 saw a continuation of a four-year trend in declining membership with membership topping out at 819 active members. Though the membership numbers fluctuate by only a dozen or so each year, the overall increase in members who choose not to renew their membership is the greatest concern. While this may be in part simply reflective of the changing landscape, where qualitative researchers are employed or some other phenomena (internal or external), the end result is a reduction in funds available to invest in programs and benefits for currently active members. As of mid-February, two-hundred twenty-two (222) QRCA members have not renewed their membership for 2016.

The Board is obviously concerned and it is committed to adding value and benefits to ensure QRCA membership is widely perceived as a vital component to make members’ practice more successful, in turn keeping them satisfied. The Board is currently exploring an expansion of member benefits into areas such as business services and insurance services. QRCA’s management company is also working with the Content Committee to improve and streamline benefits such as local chapter events and the website archive of members-only access to educational documents/resources.

The QRCA LinkedIn Discussion Group continues to grow rapidly, even as QRCA membership declines. One possible explanation is that there may be many LinkedIn members who are simply unaware that QRCA exists as a formal organization with local representation (chapters) and benefits beyond LinkedIn contacts. The Board of Directors and Membership Committee are focused, more than ever, on converting our qualified LinkedIn members to active members who can enjoy the unique benefits that come from being a “real” QRCA member.

QRCA’s main revenue source after membership is the Annual Conference. The educational conference landscape has changed rather quickly and, in the last few years, a number of new conference events surrounding consumer insight/methods have sprung up. These new events are far less specialized than our annual conference, which makes them appealing to a wider range of consumer insight professionals and, therefore, to a much larger attendee base. And while our members may look to the annual conference to provide highly specialized content, our potential conference sponsors are interested in applying their limited pool of conference-sponsorship dollars to event(s) that will reach as many potential customers as possible. QRCA has been feeling the impact of these sponsor choices for a few years now. Furthermore, the increased number and size of these conferences has the potential to dilute the influence QRCA has in the industry. Does this mean that QRCA needs to rethink the structure and content of its annual conference? Conference Co-chairs Kate Wagenlander-Watson and Jeff Walkowski are already strategizing on this very question as they plan the 2017 conference in Los Angeles, January 18-20, 2017.

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Corette Haf
Corette Haf

Action! From the Board

Corette Haf, QRCA Secretary,

The Board of Directors met for their most recent monthly meeting on February 22, 2016. Because there will not be an opportunity for an in-person Annual Meeting at a conference during 2016, the Annual Meeting will be a conference call with members on September 12, 2016. Save this date and full details will follow at a later stage.

Julie Medalis needed to step back from her position as chair of the Marketing Committee, although she will continue to serve on the committee, and Melanie Bernstein was approved as the incoming chair.

Shannon Danzy was approved as the chair of the Young Professionals Grant Committee.

Improving the SEO of the website has been on the Board’s wish list for some time, so the Board is excited to announce that it has approved a proposal from TechCom to hire SEO experts to address the site’s SEO. The Board is also happy to share that the new publisher has reported improved advertising sales for VIEWS magazine. The next Board meeting is scheduled for March 21, 2016. Highlights of the meeting will be shared in the April Connections before the Worldwide Conference in Vienna. Hope to see you there!

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tom rich
Tom Rich

Getting to Know Your Board: Tom Rich

Tom Rich,

My relationship with QRCA began with a mistake. The mistake was not joining.

I hung out my shingle and declared myself a qualitative researcher in 1996, and business took off very quickly. I give myself some credit for this — I worked very hard and made some good decisions. But, to be honest, my early success can be attributed mostly to good luck and the support of a number of mentors. Because I got off to such a great start, joining QRCA never seemed necessary. I was aware of the organization, but just didn’t see the need. My business and I seemed to be bulletproof — what use did I have for QRCA? Then the recession hit and I found out. I joined in 2010 for the basest of reasons: my practice had virtually collapsed with the economy and I had no idea what to do. I went to the annual conference in Philadelphia and after that, guess what? I knew what to do. I began to rebuild my practice and now I can say that, thanks to what I’ve learned from my fellow QRCA-ers, business has never been stronger. I wish I’d joined earlier than I did and shame on me for not doing so.

I ran for a spot on the board last year because our industry and our organization find themselves at a crossroads. The market research business has changed dramatically in recent years, and the pace of change continues to increase. QRCA must evolve in order for our members to remain effective in the new competitive environment. I’ve dedicated my time on the board to that imperative.

I’ve been told I should also include a bit of personal information in this piece, so here it goes: I’ve been married for nearly 28 years to my beloved Nancy and have two great kids (ages 25 and 22). They’re now both out of the house (the empty nest is awesome). In my spare time I like to cook and attend concerts, but my big passion is teaching martial arts. I hold 5th degree black belts (my students call me “Master Tom,” seriously) in Goshi Shun Karate and Tang Soo Do Korean forms. My students range in age from 5 to 50ish, and in the past six years they have won nine national titles in various disciplines. I advise you not to engage me in conversation on this subject unless you want to find yourself watching videos of my students — I have several on my iPhone at any given time, so there’s no escape.

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