As noted in our 2020 Report to Members & Partners, BC 1 Call’s shareholders have elected to move to fixed fees from 2021, and we promised to consult our general members on their interest in adopting a fixed fee model from 2022. Please take 5 minutes to complete our fee preference survey here.
About BC 1 Call’s Current Membership Model and its Challenges
Since our inception in 1994, BC 1 Call's sole source of revenue for our shared, not-for-profit service model has been our membership fees, which have been calculated on a fee per billable notification basis. Billable notifications are total notifications sent to a member, less any notifications driven by locate request tickets submitted by the member’s own employees.
Each year, as a general rule, about 75% of BC 1 Call’s revenues come from membership fees paid by our 6 shareholders, with the remaining 25% or so covered by ~300 of our general members. Typically, ~45 members do not receive a single invoice, as it is not cost-effective for either BC 1 Call or those members to deal with invoices of less than $25.
The fee applied to each billable notification is set by the Board annually in the fall, effective January 1 to December 31 of the following year. Fees are set with the intention of covering the approved budget, but are based on assumptions about the actual volume of billable notifications that will be sent to members.
It is impossible to forecast accurately each year the number of billable notifications and, therefore, revenues. Our biggest financial challenge is that we have a primarily fixed cost structure (i.e., software licensing, contact centre operations and member administrative support), but revenues are variable.
Revenue fluctuations produce deficits in years of lower than expected notifications to the extent revenues don’t cover BC 1 Call’s costs. In this case, we would need to draw from our reserves and increase rates the following year to make up the difference.
Similarly, if the number of notifications is greater than forecast, we will collect more revenue than necessary to fund our operations. This means that not only are members billed more than required in that year, but also that BC 1 Call is put at risk of being classified as a taxable organization should we make a higher profit than is allowed for a not-for-profit. Such taxes would have to be covered through fees.
Membership Fee Options
In 2020, BC 1 Call's shareholders and largest users of the system - FortisBC, FortisBC Energy, BC Hydro, Trans Mountain, Enbridge and TELUS - agreed to be billed in 2021 according to the fixed membership fees model. The fees were calculated based on the number of actual billable notifications over a recent 12 month period multiplied by $2.50, the 2021 per notification fee.
In our annual Member Survey, conducted from March 10 to May 2, we asked for initial feedback from general members on the concept of moving to fixed fees in 2022. Feedback suggests an openness to fixed fees as 46.3% of respondents preliminarily agreed that it would be important to their organizations if the fees are calculated based on actual notifications from the most recent 12-month period. In addition to that, 42.6% indicated that moving to a fixed fee model would be acceptable as long as their fees don’t increase significantly.
We recognize that modifying our fee model would be a significant change. Therefore, the Board will only consider moving to fixed fees for general members after carefully considering feedback received from our membership. “We ask all general members to voice their opinions by completing the fee preference survey, which we have developed without a bias for or against fixed fees. We want to hear your preferences”, said Daren Sanders, BC 1 Call’s Board Chair.
Who Can Participate in the Survey?
If you work for an organization that is a current BC 1 Call member and are responsible for budgeting and/or accounts payable related to your BC 1 Call membership, we definitely want your input!
We also want to hear from other employees of our member organizations, so please share the survey link as widely as you like. Multiple respondents from a single organization are welcome to participate!
What Else Should I Know About this Survey?
The survey will be open to members until June 30.
Summarized and aggregated feedback will be shared after the survey closes. Individual respondent names and organizations in association with their responses will only be shared within BC 1 Call on a need-to-know basis in the context of determining whether and how to implement fixed fees for general members from 2022.
If you would like BC 1 Call to reach out to you for a direct conversation after taking the survey, please let us know through firstname.lastname@example.org, or by indicating that interest at the end of the survey.
We thank you in advance for taking the time to participate in this critical survey. We look forward to hearing from you!
Click here to complete the survey now.