YMCA Seattle: A stronger, simpler pricing strategy
A new pricing strategy framework helps the YMCA of Greater Seattle simplify its pricing, introduce creative pricing strategies, and align pricing with community and financial objectives more effectively.

The YMCA of Greater Seattle wanted to explore a new pricing approach that would simplify pricing for new facility members and make membership accessible for low income members. The organization also wanted to:

  • Increase participation and dosage in all programs
  • Ensure equity across regions and participant income levels
  • Increase overall revenue

The organization viewed its current pricing structure as too complicated for participants and employees. Underlying pricing drivers and factors were unclear, there was no over-arching, cohesive pricing strategy. Accordingly, the YMCA of Greater Seattle sought to:

  • Establish a pricing philosophy that aligns with its pricing goals
  • Understand potential financial implications of any changes
  • Analyze current prices and the pricing process to identify and improve key areas of misalignment
  • Price membership programs such that they support program operations and achieve the following goals:
    • Encourage constituents to become more deeply engaged with YMCA programs and services
    • Highlight the value of a facility membership
    • Encourage equitable participation among all constituents regardless of ability to pay
    • Provide a pricing structure that is more transparent and easy for members to understand

Expertise plus a strong cultural fit.
For assistance, the YMCA of Greater Seattle turned to West Monroe Partners, which offered expertise in developing pricing strategies that support organizational objectives. Furthermore, West Monroe’s approach provided a strong cultural fit with the YMCA—including the flexibility to work within established time lines and with the YMCA’s available resources, and a commitment to fostering consensus among a diverse group of stakeholders.

In addition, through its own strong commitment to social responsibility, West Monroe Partners previously had performed work for other Seattle area not-for-profit organizations and demonstrated a deep understanding of the unique characteristics and challenges facing such organizations.

Stronger oversight.
West Monroe Partners and the YMCA of Greater Seattle collaborated to create an advisory pricing board that included representation across a number of the YMCA’s functional areas. In addition, West Monroe worked closely with the two YMCA business sponsors throughout the project, and the project team met with the advisory board for review and feedback at key points during the project.

The project team structured the effort into three phases:

  • Pricing goals/principles and strategy
  • Pricing drivers
  • Pricing recommendations and roll-out options

Organized to support the YMCA’s needs.
Each phase included detailed activity designed around the YMCA of Greater Seattle’s goals.

Pricing/goals principles and strategy:

  • Defined pricing strategy objectives
  • Conducted an employee survey
  • Identified areas of opportunity
  • Created a pricing strategy map

Pricing drivers:

  • Analyzed member participation levels and dosage (like penetration and activity levels)
  • Identified revenue
  • Identified and allocated expenses
  • Conducted member research
  • Analyzed and synthesized all research findings, data, and operating margins

Pricing recommendations and roll-out options:

  • Developed pricing recommendations
  • Analyzed impact on revenue under various scenarios
  • Discussed implications and options and refined recommendations
  • Supported the YMCA in developing a roll-out plan
  • Finalized recommendations

Ready to pilot—with potentially broader applications.
Working with West Monroe Partners, the YMCA of Greater Seattle was able to develop an approach aligned with the organization’s pricing goals. Through this effort, the YMCA of Greater Seattle gained:

  • A holistic, fact- and data-based view of key pricing drivers and factors that served as input into development of a sound pricing strategy
  • Insight that enabled the organization to challenge some long-standing assumptions and introduce ideas and creative solutions—gleaned from proven models used by other member based organizations—that support near-term and longer-term goals
  • Specific, action-ready steps that the organization can take immediately, as well as a longer-term pricing approach that will align pricing more closely with objectives and increase revenue
  • Consensus among a broad group of stakeholders that facilitated not only development of the approach but will aid the organization in implementing it in the future

The YMCA of Greater Seattle now is seeking approval to pilot this new approach—and several other YMCA organizations across the country are watching closely. If successful, this work may change the way some others approach their own pricing.

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