Every New Year’s Day in the 35 years of their marriage, Diane and Dennis have sat down at their kitchen table in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and discussed their goals for the next 12 months.
“Dennis has always been very goal-oriented, and while I originally rolled my eyes with this yearly drill, it’s been extremely helpful,” said Diane. “But, I’ll admit, it is the only time of the year we allow ourselves to indulge in blueberry pancakes with maple syrup, so there is an added incentive for this sometimes tedious hour.”
These tedious yet tasty annual discussions typically include where the couple want to be at the end of the year in categories that include fitness, finances, health, careers and even their relationship.
“These aren’t resolutions; they are goals,” said Diane. “We take them very seriously, and we document them. While setting our goals for the upcoming year, we review our progress — or lack of progress — from the past year.
“Thirty-five years later, this New Year’s Day ritual has kept us on track not only in our small business and our financial future, but with those sometimes dreaded doctor’s exams that are necessary throughout the years. We’ve also visited many destinations on our bucket list,” said Diane.
Specific goals and specific plans
This impressive couple just might have lifted their annual kitchen table routine from the words of any business plan that has a prayer for success: You must have goals and have a map on how to achieve them.
Although bank travel club directors don’t typically write formal business plans for their groups, setting goals in this era of budget cuts and takeovers may be more important than ever. In an admittedly unscientific survey, only two of 11 bank directors interviewed for this story had goals for the future.
Many were trying simply to stay afloat, often because of lack of management support or lack of customer interest.
“Those are the best reasons to have goals,” said Doris Adcox, director of Diamonds at Priority One Bank in Magee, Mississippi. “Discussing the future of my group with management and showing some business sense in this business world gives me credibility.
“And, those goals are created with the customer in mind to ensure I’m on track with my members, that I’m in touch with what is relevant and that I am creating activities that they want.
“If I plan a trip that doesn’t sell, I know I’ve done something wrong. Was it too expensive? Was it a destination that they have no interest in? These are the things I’m supposed to know,” said Adcox.
Adcox’s goals include developing trips that offer more free time than those in the past. “For extended trips, I’m looking at one particular tour company’s agenda that does just that. When I’m on my own, I’m looking at things like the NASCAR race in Charlotte, North Carolina, where we can just drop off members, let them loose and allow them to do their own thing,” she said.
Mary Ann Gelven, director of the Advantage Club at Legends Bank in Linn, Missouri, is setting similar goals. “In response to the younger age of our new members, I’m developing trips that offer more activities, more walking and more leisure time,” she said.
“I have a Natchez (Mississippi) trip planned where we don’t have everyone dining together — people can dine at their leisure. I’m offering more and more ‘I-pick itineraries,’ where members can choose what they want to do in certain locations. These are all just indications of things to come.”
With plans on the horizon for local activities, like a soup day where members can drop by the bank and pick up their dinner and cookouts with entertainment that will appeal to children, Adcox is targeting a younger generation.
“We realize that someday, these are the ones who are going to be holding the big bucks, and we want to expand our relationship with those folks and start to develop their loyalty ASAP,” she said.
“It’s an excellent idea to often seriously revisit these goals that I have set for helping make our program more successful. If they are not working, it’s time to refocus.”