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  1. #1
    Beth Perry Sewell
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    A Couple of Changes are Coming

    Howdy Viper Owners,

    As we approach our 2022 renewal cycle (starts next month!), we want to update you on changes we'll be making. While we've been slow to respond to changing economic times and financial pressures (I'll take responsibility for that), a lack of a balanced budget caused steady losses and the recent significant impacts from COVID have taken some tolls on the club (i.e. sponsorships have greatly diminished, store purchases have declined, and our NVE4 event was a slight loss due to last minute cancellations). I'm sure as you have likely observed elsewhere, the challenges haven't been isolated to us. Due to those past and present impacts, we have a few changes we're making to get us caught up while also putting us on a sustainable path for the foreseeable future. It's been hard decision making, but we do have plans in place to keep us on our path and would like to make you aware of two impacts:

    Affecting this Year
    I know some are wondering why they haven’t received a Viper Quarterly mid-year. While the reason is actually separate from the above, it's worth mentioning that our editor (Maurice Liang) had his mother pass away earlier this year and he needed time to wrap up her estate and deal with the loss. What has added to this more recently, are concerns over financial expenditures leading to more loss toward the end of the year and adding to a shortfall in funding the club's needs. While the board has voted not to impact the printing of a paper magazine, and since we're late with the last issue and it saves the club money anyway, we've decided to combine the summer and fall issue into one magazine. And to account for the content, we'll make this a "super size" edition. This alone saves $25,000 and strikes a good balance without impacting members anywhere else for the rest of the year. And yes, the last magazine of the year (our winter issue), will still go to print as planned.

    Affecting Next Year
    We also needed to plan for a better budget that supports the club’s annual needs while also paying down debt. To that end, the club had to decide between two general paths, either cut benefits substantially (i.e. killing the magazine, while still leaving dues where they are), or raising dues to balance the budget while leaving everything mostly intact. We opted for the latter, as our board's majority voted to maintain the services that we have, versus impacting club services.

    What has been really awesome is that, for a club that's relatively small compared to nearly all other exotic/sports car clubs, we achieve some pretty fantastic things (and to a degree, even better in some areas). The VOA has all the necessary components that a world-wide club requires: a call center, store, liability insurance, website, forums, national events, badges/materials, and a magazine that is arguably the best club magazine in the world! The VOA also sends a large portion of club dues to each individual region to support their local activities. We've maintained all of this from the start of the club, never raising dues since the beginning 7 years ago! While our recent efforts were certainly focused on analyzing the internal costs of our annual services, we've also invested time in validating them against other clubs with similar stature to ours. So to meet the future needs of the club, the following 2022 changes will be put in place with the next membership year:

    Standard Membership
    • Increases from $115 to $150
    • Digital copy of Viper Quarterly
    • Option to receive the printed version of the magazine at your cost
    • $20 gift certificate to be used in the VOA store as a thank you gift for renewing/joining

    Mamba Membership
    • Increases from $150 to $195
    • Printed copy of Viper Quarterly
    • Also includes the digital version of Viper Quarterly
    • $35 gift certificate to the VOA store as a thank you gift for renewing/joining

    We know there's never a good time to raise costs, though we hope this rationale helps explain why we needed to make changes and how seriously it was taken. We sense that you'll understand, but more importantly, we hope that any impacts you feel don't seem to outweigh the great effort that many volunteer leaders across the club are making to maintain the club at the level that Viper deserves.

    Sincerely,

    Viper Owners Association Officers, Board of Directors, and VOA Founders
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  2. #2
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    Overdue for a price increase.

    Good for you guys!

  3. #3
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    I paid more for gas in the Viper on Saturday vs 9 months ago than this increase.

    I have found value in the relationships and knowledge that is priceless.

    Hopefully, better days ahead.
    Brian
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  4. #4
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    Thanks for the email. To me, this is absolutely OK!
    I enjoy this forum and the help I found here tremendously.

    PS: @Viperenvy, please check your private message box - it seems to be full and I tried sending you something :-)
    Last edited by James; 09-28-2021 at 03:03 AM.
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  5. #5
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    I still enjoy a printed copy of the magazine. What would be the cost posted to the UK?

  6. #6
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    I am fine with a price increase, but I have some questions.

    1) Is is true that the VOA has taken out a loan for $175,000 from the US Government?
    2) Are VOA executives getting trips paid for?
    3) Would it not be a good time for a new President and Treasurer?

    It seems like the Corvette club of America, Ferrari club can have the ducks in a row, first VCA, now this... We should have an independent forensic audit and financials posted to all paying members.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
    Thanks for the email. To me, this is absolutely OK!
    I enjoy this forum and the help I found here tremendously.

    PS: @Viperenvy, please check your private message box - it seems to be full and I tried sending you something :-)
    Should be able to send...
    Brian
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    GT2 Owners Group

  8. #8
    Beth Perry Sewell
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevert View Post
    I am fine with a price increase, but I have some questions.

    1) Is is true that the VOA has taken out a loan for $175,000 from the US Government?
    2) Are VOA executives getting trips paid for?
    3) Would it not be a good time for a new President and Treasurer?

    It seems like the Corvette club of America, Ferrari club can have the ducks in a row, first VCA, now this... We should have an independent forensic audit and financials posted to all paying members.
    1. It is an SBA loan intended for entities impacted by Covid. NVE4 lost about $70,000 due to the fact that we had made financial commitments in 2019 for our event in 2020 and when the pandemic hit we were forced to move it a year. In the meantime we had a massive number of cancellations. If the event occurred as planned we would not be having this conversation.
    2. Why would you say that? Of course not. The executives travel on their own nickel and spend a massive number of volunteer hours working on club business.
    3. You're in luck - you should have received an email regarding upcoming officer elections for 2022-2023.

    PM sent

    We have done a complete forensic audit already which gave us our answers to problems and then we have to develop solutions. The board voted and approved the dues increase - it was never "Beth said to do this" as implied in an email. We have another meeting tomorrow to continue our discussions and voting on the next level of decisions that were misrepresented in an email circulating around
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  9. #9
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    Beth,

    As for the loan question, What is the loan ammount? is it for the $70,000 due to the cancellations, or is it the $175,000?

    As a paying member I am entitiled to ask questions. that is a response for the #2.

    Also regarding the forensic audit, I am asking again as a paying member and not accusing anyone of anything, but I believe an outside agency conducting an audit would have better optics in totality.

    How much does the club owe?

  10. #10
    Beth Perry Sewell
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevert View Post
    Beth,

    As for the loan question, What is the loan ammount? is it for the $70,000 due to the cancellations, or is it the $175,000?

    As a paying member I am entitiled to ask questions. that is a response for the #2.

    Also regarding the forensic audit, I am asking again as a paying member and not accusing anyone of anything, but I believe an outside agency conducting an audit would have better optics in totality.

    How much does the club owe?
    Steve,

    The amount is $175,000 payable over 30 years at 2.75% and we plan to repay it via fundraising.

    #2 is asked and answered. Furthermore I have nothing to do with the bank accounts and have no signature authority whatsoever.

    Hiring an independent auditor is a decision for the board to make.

    Club debt is still estimated as we approach tomorrow's board meeting for another round of decision making. Most of 2022 is addressed with the exception of dues sharing and now we must address 2021.
    Last edited by Herrsss; 09-28-2021 at 11:10 AM.
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  11. #11
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    Quite surprised by the financial situation unfolding.

    A few observations from an old member (both in time and age), and with a fixed income, so always very finicky when it comes to costs vs benefits.

    A significant benefit for the national club for me is the forums (both here and FaceBook), which do not really need club backing to succeed. Another important benefit of the national club is the magazine. That means in order to maintain comparable benefits the price is going from $115 to $195, a 70% increase.

    Of that, the portion that goes to the local club does what? Does it increase, stay the same or go down? This is important as to me and many others as the primary benefit for the national club is the existence and operation of the local club.

    What other areas of financial improvement are being looked at? I don't recall seeing a detailed national financial summary so have no idea where the money goes other than the magazine and NVE.
    - Reducing or eliminating the $25 kickback to members who get others to join the club (I wasn't even aware of this until I saw people cashing in vouchers at NVE). Do we really need to incentivize members, especially local membership directors?
    - Reducing costs associated with the magazine. Making an electronic version is inexpensive for sure, but costs per magazine will go up substantially with a reduction in the quantity of magazines required. Personally I really do not need such an elaborate magazine. The old version of Viper Quarterly worked just fine as does our local newsletter.
    - Reduce free memberships and event benefits. To attract Viper personalities to be members or attend events do we really have to pay their way?
    - Reduce National Call Center to NVE support only. Local clubs can provide much of the support needs.

    Overall this is a pretty substantial increase and will undoubtedly impact the number of national members. As an MBA I really hope someone studied the impact of the price increase vs membership and overall income.

  12. #12
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    I will reiterate the question from stevert above. Beth you mention there was a $70k shortfall due to NVE. That would be outside of the budget planning for sure and would require some tightening of the belt or dues increase. But why a $175k loan, $105k more than the shortfall. What was it used for and why can't the extra be paid back to reduce the loan interest?
    Last edited by ViperSRT; 09-28-2021 at 01:42 PM. Reason: Missing “k”

  13. #13
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    Will the regions be getting their annual stipend?
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  14. #14
    Beth Perry Sewell
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    Quote Originally Posted by Back In Black View Post
    Will the regions be getting their annual stipend?
    That is up to the board to make that decision via a vote
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  15. #15
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    Beth,

    I have no dog in the fight financially, as a couple hundred dollars a year is pretty minimal...but I would strongly suggest some type of a recorded video going over financials, or a very thorough thread dedicated to it. That would eliminate a lot of doubts, concerns, questions and would be completely transparent.

    I serve on several boards for associations that pass a little (<$50k) to a lot ($15mil+) through their accounts on a yearly basis. Transparency for all of the paying members is the best key to success and continuing to have a bright future. Once questions arise, which it sounds like they have, it becomes paramount to handle those questions with the upmost transparency in order to maintain trust. While it may be up to the board for voting, I think it's also incredibly relevant to all paying members to know where their money is going.


    Nick

  16. #16
    Beth Perry Sewell
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    Quote Originally Posted by ViperSRT View Post
    I will reiterate the question from stevert above. Beth you mention there was a $70k shortfall due to NVE. That would be outside of the budget planning for sure and would require some tightening of the belt or dues increase. But why a $175k loan, $105k more than the shortfall. What was it used for and why can't the extra be paid back to reduce the loan interest?
    This build up was a long time coming especially given the turmoil of late 2019 and all of 2020. We had members pause their memberships, we had sponsorships and advertising diminish greatly and over time costs per member exceeded member dues. We had a cushion from NVE4 registrations that masked the magnitude of the issues until we had to pay the final event invoices and ran really low on funds.

    How did the loan happen? The officers (with the founders' approval) voted to take the loan out to buy us time to cover balance of 2021 expenses (magazines, HQ operations, website, D&O insurance renewal, mag print cost on the club credit card etc.)

    The plan is to focus on fundraising, auctions and other ideas the board (and members) come up with to repay the loan within 2 years which is when the repayment period begins. The intention is to NOT USE DUES for debt retirement but instead dues are to be used for club operations only.

    The belt is tightening as we continue to look for more cost savings. There are 3 ways to effect a positive bottom line: increase revenue or decrease expenses or do both and the board is focused on doing #3.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herrsss View Post
    This build up was a long time coming especially given the turmoil of late 2019 and all of 2020. We had members pause their memberships, we had sponsorships and advertising diminish greatly and over time costs per member exceeded member dues. We had a cushion from NVE4 registrations that masked the magnitude of the issues until we had to pay the final event invoices and ran really low on funds.

    How did the loan happen? The officers (with the founders' approval) voted to take the loan out to buy us time to cover balance of 2021 expenses (magazines, HQ operations, website, D&O insurance renewal, mag print cost on the club credit card etc.)

    The plan is to focus on fundraising, auctions and other ideas the board (and members) come up with to repay the loan within 2 years which is when the repayment period begins. The intention is to NOT USE DUES for debt retirement but instead dues are to be used for club operations only.

    The belt is tightening as we continue to look for more cost savings. There are 3 ways to effect a positive bottom line: increase revenue or decrease expenses or do both and the board is focused on doing #3.
    As the past region president of the Carolinas, I brought up these questions several years ago regarding exessive cost at NVE 2/3 events and could the club actually afford the quartlery magizine. Even told National leaders there may be a drop in membership as Dodge terminated the Viper program. The current financial situation should not be a surprise to you at the National level. Suggested that we have duel pricing for those who wanted to track their Vipers to those that didn't. At a cost of approx $50K - $75K for track rental per event (guessing at the cost), this should not have been paid by the 75% of the members who did not track their Vipers. Your explanation for the NVE 4 cost is really vague lack detail of how much money was received and how much was paid out. "We had a cushion from NVE4 registrations that masked the magnitude of the issues until we had to pay the final event invoices and ran really low on funds." Not knowing what the final invoice is going to be until the event...Not a way to run a business...Did younot know what the cost of the event was going to be before you start is not a wise thing. Maybe we should have cancelled the entire event due to COVID, like a lot of events did. Just wondering how much the track event cost for the last three NVE events and what percent of participants actually participated in the track portions. One last thing that was asked by another member but not answered, are the Regions still getting 50% of the dues to support their activities - KIND of important -
    another question trhat was not answered why do we need $175K loan for a 30 year period (paying $82K in interest) How much in debt is the club really in. Also minutes of the last Board Meeting would be nice to be avaiable for all to see.

  18. #18
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    This is about to get interesting, yet not at all surprising to me.
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  19. #19
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    Being open and honest is the best way to put everything to rest and move forward. Those of us that were here when the last club crumbled know this all to well. I AM NOT IN ANY WAY implying that this is the same situation, just stating that if we are honest and answer the questions that are asked, we can move forward with trust rather then rumors
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  20. #20
    Beth Perry Sewell
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarolinaViper View Post
    As the past region president of the Carolinas, I brought up these questions several years ago regarding exessive cost at NVE 2/3 events and could the club actually afford the quartlery magizine. Even told National leaders there may be a drop in membership as Dodge terminated the Viper program. The current financial situation should not be a surprise to you at the National level. Suggested that we have duel pricing for those who wanted to track their Vipers to those that didn't. At a cost of approx $50K - $75K for track rental per event (guessing at the cost), this should not have been paid by the 75% of the members who did not track their Vipers. Your explanation for the NVE 4 cost is really vague lack detail of how much money was received and how much was paid out. "We had a cushion from NVE4 registrations that masked the magnitude of the issues until we had to pay the final event invoices and ran really low on funds." Not knowing what the final invoice is going to be until the event...Not a way to run a business...Did younot know what the cost of the event was going to be before you start is not a wise thing. Maybe we should have cancelled the entire event due to COVID, like a lot of events did. Just wondering how much the track event cost for the last three NVE events and what percent of participants actually participated in the track portions. One last thing that was asked by another member but not answered, are the Regions still getting 50% of the dues to support their activities - KIND of important -
    another question trhat was not answered why do we need $175K loan for a 30 year period (paying $82K in interest) How much in debt is the club really in. Also minutes of the last Board Meeting would be nice to be avaiable for all to see.
    Thank you for your input but unfortunately I wasn't part of the prior NVE planning committees so I can't speak to what happened in the past.

    As soon as we complete our meetings and voting processes everything will be published for all to see. Please be a little patient as we have a few more issues to discuss and vote on and I hope our last meeting is tomorrow evening.

    Please keep in mind the NVE4 was planned in 2019 when nobody could have known what would happen in 2020. We made several contractual commitments that may have been costly had we cancelled (would Homestead and the Hilton let us cancel? Maybe yes maybe no). We held a board meeting in early 2020 to discuss the lockdown situation and the board voted to move it a year.

    Region dues are a board level decision and that will be discussed in tomorrow's meeting.

    If we don't need the entire loan amount we can very easily repay it with no penalties.
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  21. #21
    Supporting Vendor JonB ~ PartsRack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herrsss View Post
    Howdy Viper Owners,

    ...... a lack of a balanced budget caused steady losses and the recent significant impacts from COVID have taken some tolls on the club (i.e. sponsorships have greatly diminished, store purchases have declined, and our NVE4 event was a slight loss due to last minute cancellations)............

    We know there's never a good time to raise costs, though we hope this rationale helps explain why we needed to make changes and how seriously it was taken........
    Sincerely,

    Viper Owners Association Officers, Board of Directors, and VOA Founders
    1) Sponsors blamed first ? This Sponsor, paying 2 clubs 200,000+ since 96, did not diminish our VOA sponsorship level even $1 .

    2) The lead-in above says 'our NVE was a slight loss'.......but later details $70,000+ in losses.

    3) Why would a Not-For-Profit Social Club (as opposed to charitable, educational, religious, etc) even be eligible for taxpayer-subsidized loans in the first place? Seems inappropriate. Dodge Marketing Pros of 1992-2000 would roll over in their graves at the thought. The optics of taxpayers helping fund Rich-Guy-Florida-Car-Parties is terrible. Embarrassing.

    By contrast, Viper Days just completed a successful rich-guy-car-party that donated $50K to a true charity.

    4) What official role do the above-signed 'VOA Founders' play under the bylaws? BOD liability costs? Has the member-liability and other insurances, costing $20K+, ever had a claim?

    5) Several old-timers mailed me and asked my thoughts. So against local advice, I have replied. Bannings anyone? Nahhhh
    Last edited by JonB ~ PartsRack; 09-28-2021 at 06:39 PM.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herrsss View Post
    Thank you for your input but unfortunately I wasn't part of the prior NVE planning committees so I can't speak to what happened in the past.

    As soon as we complete our meetings and voting processes everything will be published for all to see. Please be a little patient as we have a few more issues to discuss and vote on and I hope our last meeting is tomorrow evening.

    Please keep in mind the NVE4 was planned in 2019 when nobody could have known what would happen in 2020. We made several contractual commitments that may have been costly had we cancelled (would Homestead and the Hilton let us cancel? Maybe yes maybe no). We held a board meeting in early 2020 to discuss the lockdown situation and the board voted to move it a year.

    Region dues are a board level decision and that will be discussed in tomorrow's meeting.

    If we don't need the entire loan amount we can very easily repay it with no penalties.

    Learn from the past, or be doomed to repeat it.

    No true treasury reporting..... That watered-down charade 'Revenue & Expense Statement" clearly indicated an upside-down NVE situation. Big $$ Shortfall obvious. How about real P+L statements going forward? Or even a current one?

    The loan amount of $175,000 = almost exactly $100 per every paid member.
    Last edited by JonB ~ PartsRack; 09-29-2021 at 01:10 PM.
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  23. #23
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    I’ve been around since day 1 of VCA. What is it about Viper clubs? I’m a member of several car clubs and almost never see this level of drama. COVID? Spare me
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herrsss View Post
    This build up was a long time coming especially given the turmoil of late 2019 and all of 2020. We had members pause their memberships, we had sponsorships and advertising diminish greatly and over time costs per member exceeded member dues. We had a cushion from NVE4 registrations that masked the magnitude of the issues until we had to pay the final event invoices and ran really low on funds.

    How did the loan happen? The officers (with the founders' approval) voted to take the loan out to buy us time to cover balance of 2021 expenses (magazines, HQ operations, website, D&O insurance renewal, mag print cost on the club credit card etc.)

    The plan is to focus on fundraising, auctions and other ideas the board (and members) come up with to repay the loan within 2 years which is when the repayment period begins. The intention is to NOT USE DUES for debt retirement but instead dues are to be used for club operations only.

    The belt is tightening as we continue to look for more cost savings. There are 3 ways to effect a positive bottom line: increase revenue or decrease expenses or do both and the board is focused on doing #3.
    What was the turmoil in late 2019? And really early 2020 as the shit didn't hit the fan until late February and early March 2020. I can't see how 2020 memberships would have been impacted given the due date was before Covid was made public. Conversely I would expect that those planning on attending NVE4 would of been Mamba members for 2020 and possibly again in 2021 (also due to NVE4).

    I noticed the VOA Treasurer is a CPA and partner in an accounting firm. How is it possible using both cash flow basis and accrual basis (I am assuming that with modern accounting software both would be available and utilized) a financial situation was not foreseen well before it became an emergency. Especially given that many of the NVE4 expenditures were known well in advance.

    What are the membership numbers for 2020 and 2021 (vs pre Covid) that would account for such a change in revenue. I don't think our local was hit hard due to Covid as membership this year is near record high.

    I applaud efforts to make payments outside of regular club business. But that then raises a question as to how regular club business expenses now requires substantially higher dues. Something on the ordinary expense side of the ledger must have increased in cost substantially.

    Lastly, the dues increase would have been much more palatable without the coupon gimmick for the VOA shop. Like similar gimmicks I presume that the usage rate is estimated to be low, thus unused coupons would translate to revenue once expired. $130 and $160 seem much more acceptable (though the loss of a printed newsletter would diminish desireability for the regular membership and drive primarily Mamba memberships).

  25. #25
    Regional President
    VOA Mamba Member
    since 2014
    Carolinas
    braunstein82's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Cameron, NC
    Posts
    558
    Is the slide presentation from last week's president meeting, which I hear shows some of the financials and plan to recover, available for members to see? I hear conflicting arguments from lots of people about what was presented. Including the plan to recover, the NVE amounts and what is supposed to happen to the 2021 regional dues which have not yet been sent to the regions. Not wanting to add fuel to the fire but we need to be clear and open to one another and put any rumors to rest.
    98 GTS (sold)
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