As business owners and managers, we are offered a wide variety of memberships in industry associations and civic organizations. We may question whether membership dues in the local Chamber of Commerce are a good investment. Many people will promote membership in the chamber while an equal number don’t believe in that at all. There are fine organizations, such as your local Rotary chapter, that provide great networking opportunities while doing charity work in the community. Professional associations, such as the American Bus Association and the National Limousine Association, provide many benefits directly tied to your livelihood. Whether you think the investment is worth the dues depends on what you want to get out of your membership, whether your expectations are met, and if you consider the membership fee reasonable.
Memberships worth consideration
Chambers of Commerce and service clubs such as Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions Clubs are great places to network. Industry associations, such as your national, state and local level associations committed to making the industry better, also assure your clients you uphold professional standards. Lead generation groups, such as LeTip and Business Network International (BNI), meet for breakfast for the express purpose of sharing leads. Bridal associations, funeral directors associations and attorney associations are others worth considering. It shows a level of commitment to the associated industry and allows you face time with potential clients.
Power in numbers
Regardless of what type of association you join, the more members they get, the better. High membership means you have more people to market to and the organization can tap more collective support in tackling legislative and regulatory issues. A large group also can negotiate better purchase prices than an individual company. This can be very beneficial for business expenses, such as group insurance. More people equals more resources at your disposal.
There is no doubt that politicians feed off what most of their constituents want them to vote for. When the National Limousine Association holds its annual “Day on the Hill” event each spring, industry leaders and operators show up in force to meet with various U.S. representatives to voice their concerns on laws affecting the limousine industry. When many constituents express concern over an issue, the matter gets more attention. This wouldn’t be possible without member support, and that’s why more members translates into more political clout that benefits the entire industry or group. Smaller companies tend to believe that only bigger, more-monied players in the industry should be dues-paying members. But in the game of political persuasion, every business member counts, regardless of company or fleet size.
Paying dues for membership is not as effective as becoming a participating member. To get the most out of an organization, volunteer to serve on committees and assist the cause. It will allow you to develop new contacts to share information about your business. It takes many people to make a volunteer organization operate. If you have an expertise to lend to the organization, you should offer it. Working together, organizations can make bigger things happen by joining hands to get the work done. Of course, every organization must have leadership, and that means executive committees made up of presidents, vice presidents, treasurers, secretaries and board directors. If you can honor the time commitment to serve on a board of directors of an organization, then you can help guide the organization to deliver services based upon your own expectations. As the saying goes, it’s always a small number of people who end up driving the bus.