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Susan Moore, President of DPI on the success of Dscoop

Published on March 19, 2010

Cary Sherburne:  Hi, I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor of WhatTheyThink.com and I’m here with Susan Lore, who is President of DPI in Atlanta, and also Chairman of the DScoop Conference Committee.  Welcome Susan.

Susan Lore:  Thank you, thank you Cary.

Cary Sherburne:  What an amazing event.  It’s almost 1,800 people here at the Gaylord Texan.  You put this conference together; what goes into putting a conference like this together.  It must be a lot of work. 

Susan Lore:  Well, it’s interesting, we didn’t expect 1,800, I can tell you that.  We started our planning at the conference back in May, and of course, at that time, the economy back then was really kicking all of us in the pants, so to speak.  And so we downgraded our plan from 1,300 in the previous year, so we planned for 1,000 because we didn’t want to over commit from a budget standpoint.  And so we were feeling pretty good about our target.  We started our marketing for the whole conference in June, we developed a Marketing Committee headed by Rod Key, and asked to help us with messaging.  And so, we talked to lot of business owners the we were all saying, man, we can’t wait to get this year over, so hence the theme, “No Looking Back.” 

So, we started marketing the conference and then you start talking to members in the community to find out how we should change up our education track.  We spent some time talking to the partners how about we did well last year; we didn’t do so well, what should we change up, again, with the ultimate goal to keep it as a community.  Partners and members really have to have an open sharing mentality in order to make this work.  And so, that’s really our primary goals.  So, it’s not so much about the numbers, for me, it’s about making sure we maintain this community, you know, feel the energy of the group.  So, that’s really the primary goal in everything that we do. 

And I feel that, the way you do that is really making sure you understand what we’re all looking for and convey that at these sessions, so hopefully, if we continue to do that with both our partners and our members, we’ll be able to maintain this. 

Cary Sherburne:  And at what point did you realize that you were not going to reach the 1,300 of last year, but far exceed it? 

Susan Lore:  Well, you’re not going to believe this, but in December, the end of December, we didn’t have 1,000 yet.  We only had 800 and some.  So we were feeling pretty good about our forecast.  January 5, we had the cutoff for a room commitment here.  And so, we figured, okay well we’ll probably have maybe 1,200.  That’s optimistic.  So, we made sure we were going to have rooms for 1,200 people and we made our final commitment to the hotel so we wouldn’t over commit.  And then in about the third week of January, I don’t know what happened.  I have some ideas of what might have happened, but about every day, we started getting 50 or 60 members signing up a day. 

So, we didn’t actually hit 1,000 until after the end of January, and got the last 700 about two weeks before the conference. 

Cary Sherburne:  Oh my goodness. 

Susan Lore:  It was so, I have to say, thank you.  I think a couple of things contributed to that.  Overall, the last quarter of last year was more positive than the rest of the year for our entire community.  So, I think it released the confidence in people to say, “Okay, we can spend a little money and go and really learn.  It’s worth it.  And we can take more people, not just the top tier of the company.”  So, I think that’s partly what happened. 

I also think there’s a little bit of procrastination in everybody, but for me, I think it was more of the fact that the fourth quarter was positive.  And so here we are.  I think the last two weeks before the conference, you know, I’ve got to say that a lot of my instincts with a lot of members go into it, but the heavy lifting gets done by Eric Hawkinson, our Executive Director, his 15 staff members. 

Cary Sherburne:  Yeah, they do a terrific job.  Yeah. 

Susan Lore:  They do a terrific job.  And really it’s a credit to them that in those last two weeks, we had to shift from, “How do we put people in hotels around.”  We had to figure out the shuttling service to get people in because our goal really, is to be in one location.  So that really kind of threw us for a loop.  We had some cap and limits on food that we have – so anyway, you can imagine.  So, we’re very excited to be here and we’re very pleased with our results. 

Cary Sherburne:  And will you be the Conference Chairman for Orlando next year? 

Susan Lore:  The Conference Chair for next year will be Mark Sarpa. 

Cary Sherburne:  Okay, he’s from Progressive. 

Susan Lore:  He will be from Progressive.  We’ve very excited about him chairing the conference.  Mark has wonderful instincts and I just think he’s going to be terrific. 

Cary Sherburne:  Well, we will look forward to that conference as well.  Thank you. 

Susan Lore:  Yes.  Thank you, Cary.

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