Fundamental to the success of the annual Top to Top event are the scheduled B2B meetings which again kept brokers and manufacturers alike quite busy during this year’s event. Several companies reported over 20 scheduled meetings with another 30% of companies hosting a dozen or more.
New in 2008 and proving to be extremely popular, was the food snack and networking area adjacent to registration that we came to call our “IFBA Lounge” area. This allowed meeting participants to speed through breakfast and lunch times without the cost/time normally committed in hotel restaurants; yet at a comfortable pace with additional networking an added value.
Tentative plans for 2009 find the IFBA member group staging a “stand alone” event in a return to downtown Chicago. Among the early plans for Top to Top next year is the staging of a “First Timer Orientation” session; prior to the opening night reception. Also, efforts will be made to provide a pre-conference flier on “How to Get the Most Out of Your IFBA Top to Top Experience”. This offering, in tandem with an “IFBA Mentor” program; should allow for more helpful communication ahead of the actual conference and insure maximum efficiency plus the comfort of a “welcome mat” for those in first time attendance.
With continued woes in the housing market, slowing economic growth and a weakening dollar, the US economy is hitting hard times and long-term trends don’t look good.
Whether you’re planning a new business, just launched one, or have been running it for a while, it’s critical to have the right tools in your toolkit to ensure you survive ongoing business challenges as well as economic factors that compound the everyday obstacles of growing a business…
Stevens Point, WI: “The level of service can’t just get better; it needs to get different;” according to Scott Deming, opening keynote speaker at the 13th annual meeting of membership of the National Association for Retail Marketing Services held here. NARMS is an educationally based, non-profit trade association representing merchandising service organizations, event marketers, professional installation companies, independent food brokers, manufacturers, retailers and also associate allied industry elements.
Stevens Point, WI: A spike in web based activity at www.narms.com is giving NARMS International evidence of exceptional post-holiday job recruitment activity. The trade association utilizes a combination of JobBank, The Recruiter and Career Connection as web tools to meet company member and non-member recruitment and individual job seeker needs in the retail services industry.
The respected and lauded former President of the University of Notre Dame Reverend Theodore Hesburgh described leadership as “The very essence of leadership is that you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you clearly and forcefully articulate on every occasion.” But in today’s world where results count we can’t forget Albert Einstein’s famous statement that “vision without execution is hallucination.” With this being my final article in NARMS Today as the Chair of the NARMS Board of Directors it is my goal to leave you with some pertinent and motivational comments that hopefully will entice you to get more involved in your association and our industry.
In 2006, the Board of Directors of NARMS began its initiative to develop accreditation standards for companies in the retail marketing services industry. The Board made this decision in order to provide companies with a set of consensus based industry standards indicative of high quality practices of retail marketing services. As the recognized leader in retail marketing services, NARMS believes it is the best entity to develop and administer an accreditation program that will serve as a symbol of quality and commitment to excellence for the industry.
So what is accreditation and why is it important?
Accreditation is a voluntary process of third party or “peer” review that measures a company’s ability to meet established industry standards. The standards reflect the “best practices” required of companies in today’s marketplace in several categories, including: financial management and internal controls; compliance with state and federal laws; insurance coverage; training and evaluation of service providers; contractual requirements; delivery of services; internal company policies; and ethical business practices. The accreditation standards were developed with input from NARMS member companies, stakeholders and experts in the industry. Because companies will need to meet the standards established by the industry in order to achieve accreditation, seeking accreditation will be a big commitment for many companies. While accreditation cannot guarantee the quality or successful performance of services by an accredited company, the rigor of its standards and the integrity of the review process is an indication of quality that is much more than a “stamp of approval.”
Who will serve on the accreditation governing body?
Members of the governing body will be required to meet a strict set of qualifications and must agree to abide by the policies of the accreditation program. The body will collectively represent the breadth, scope, experience and interests of retail marketing services companies. Members of the governing body will have been trained in interpreting the accreditation standards and in measuring a company’s compliance with the standards. This governing body will be the sole entity responsible for making all accreditation status decisions.
How will my company’s application be reviewed?
The review process of a company’s application is two fold. First the application is sent to two reviewers who are trained in the accreditation standards and documentation requirements. The reviewers must meet stringent criteria, demonstrate their qualifications to serve as a reviewer, and uphold all confidentiality and conflict-of-interest requirements. The reviewers will conduct a “desk audit” of the application, reviewing the responses to questions, supporting documentation and will determine the compliance of the applicant company with each accreditation standard and reporting requirements. The reviewers will present their findings to an independent governing body, which will make the final decision on accreditation.
In order to avoid real and perceived conflicts of interest, and in fairness to the intellectual property of companies who have worked hard to succeed in the industry, this independent body while administered under NARMS, will be governed by a set of strict policies designed to safeguard the confidentiality of company information and to prevent competitors from participating in your company’s review. The governing body will also be trained in the application review and decision-making processes to assure consistency and fairness in outcomes. The review system will also have an internal set of checks and balances so that all decisions are fully deliberated and reviewed by different individuals.
Accreditation will only be awarded to companies that meet and maintain compliance with the accreditation standards. Companies who do not continue to meet the accreditation standards may lose their accreditation status. It is important to note that the accreditation process is designed to enhance the practices of companies, so companies that do not meet all accreditation standards at first, will be afforded the opportunity to correct any areas of non-conformity and try again. There will also be due process afforded to companies who are denied accreditation, or who have their accreditation withdrawn.
What will I need to document in the application for accreditation?
A retail marketing services company seeking accreditation must submit an application form and supporting documentation to validate compliance with the accreditation standards. Once the application and supporting documents have been submitted, they will be reviewed by two assigned reviewers who will read the application and supporting documents. The reviewers will contact a company appointed liaison to request further clarification of responses or additional supporting documentation. The reviewers will determine the deadline for the applicant company to submit additional information. To review the accreditation standards and suggested documentation to support compliance with the standards, visit the NARMS website at www.narms.com. The application for accreditation will be available soon.
What are the benefits of accreditation?
Customers have many expectations of their service providers, and accreditation is one means for customers to make an assessment of the services they can expect from an accredited company and a decision about the overall quality of a company. Not only do customers benefit from accreditation, but companies that are awarded accreditation will undergo the valuable process of assessing their own policies, practices and operations against industry standards and will have the opportunity to improve how they do business internally and with customers. Accredited companies will also have the benefit of noting their accreditation status as a measure of best practices and a commitment to quality.
Christine Niero, PhD is vice-president of Professional Certification and Client Development for Professional Testing is a seasoned executive who brings over 20 years in credentialing in both developing and leading accreditation and certification programs. Dr. Niero serves to consult with NARMS in the development of the company accreditation program and led the two Town Hall Meetings at the 2007 NARMS Spring Conference and will present further program developments at the 2008 event in Williamsburg in April. Further, Dr. Niero is a frequent speaker on the topic of credentialing and currently serves on the Personnel Certification Accreditation Committee for ISO 17024 administered by the American National Standards Institute.
Membership numbers in NARMS International exceeded all past levels in late 2007 as the member count rose to 571 member companies. The diverse member roster included some 56 international member companies, with 34 from Canada.
An early spike in web based activity at www.narms.com is giving NARMS International evidence of exceptional post-holiday job recruitment activity. As you are well aware, NARMS International utilizes a combination of JobBank, The Recruiter and Career Connection as web tools to meet company member and non-member recruitment and individual job seeker needs in the retail services industry.