Guide To Membership Recruitment
Where do we find them, and how do we keep them?
What is a regional club?
In actuality, a regional club can be many things:
-promoter of ApHC-approved horse shows,
-developer of ApHC-approved races,
-sponsor of ApHC-approved trail rides,
-sponsor of, or promoter of participation in events not approved by the ApHC which may include:
-competitive and endurance rides
-all-breed horse shows
-seminars, clinics and other educational programs,
-group of Appaloosa breeders,
-political action group, promoter of the Appaloosa horse,
-all of the above and more.
What does your club offer members?
- How are you perceived by your potential customers?
- Who are your customers and why?
- How limited is your potential prospecting pool?
- Meet nice, friendly people
- Learn something new and grow intellectually
- Materials received as a member
- Variety of activities offered for children and adults
- Awards you may receive, etc.
How do you market your club?
- Classified ads
- Posters in local businesses
- Direct mail
- Your newsletter
- An open house or barn
- Booths at local events
- Incentives for current members to bring in new members
- Club business cards
- Bumper stickers or other advertising specialties
- Radio or TV
- Public service work
- Sponsor a local youth group
How do we retain members?
How can we better service our customers?
The largest complaint from regional clubs is that members don’t attend meetings. Well, the first thing you must look at is, are our meetings worthwhile? Hold meetings for the general membership that are informational and don’t deal with specific management problems or decisions. You need to avoid negative debate. Invite guest speakers or have videos showing some new topic or activity. Hold meetings at convenient times in convenient locations, not just what’s convenient for the person setting up the meetings. If it is at all possible, you might rotate the locations of your meetings to give more people the opportunity to attend.
When you set up your different committees, there should be a mix of old and new members to stimulate ideas. If people don’t readily volunteer to be on a committee, ask them to participate. The worst that can happen is that they say no. When people come to the table with new suggestions, it’s best to analyze the idea. Discuss what is good about the idea, and then maybe discuss what could be changed. The final and best outcome of most ideas are not what was initially brought forward. However, the fastest way to kill someone’s initiative or creativity is to review and vote on every little detail. Let the ideas flow and let the discussion take a natural course.
Once you have formed your committees and they are working at capacity, formally recognize the contributions of those members. Provide them with some type of special recognition. This could be as simple as announcing a thank you at your next event.
It is important to keep your leadership fresh. It might sound impressive to say that you have been the President of such and such club for 10 years, but this makes it easy for your club to become stagnant. There is absolutely nothing wrong with change. In fact, change is necessary to keep up with the latest trends and constant flux of the industry. Stagger terms of directors and limit those terms. Make sure that new officers are privy to what is currently in the works when positions do change hands. Don’t let one disgruntled member be the downfall of your club. Remember that you can’t please everyone, but by including as many people as possible in the operations of your club, you will have the best chance for success.
Now that you know the do’s, here are the final don't do's.
- Don’t accept your club’s condition as being a result of outside forces. “When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that three of his fingers are pointing at himself.”
- Don’t encourage negativism by tolerating it or being a part of it. People won’t join an organization whose members are constantly complaining and appear to be unhappy.
- Don’t think the old way is the best way. If you are trying to recapture the excitement of the years when the Appaloosa was on the rise, then your organization has to create excitement that is appealing to the Appaloosa owner of today.
- Don’t allow your club to be run for the sole enjoyment of, or to serve the personal agenda of, any one person or small group of individuals. Run it for all of the membership.
- Don’t limit your horizons. Expand the organization’s thinking power by including everyone.
- Don’t expect your club to be around forever if your members are not willing to contribute to it’s future. A club’s success is not measured by it’s leaders doing extraordinary things, but by it’s members doing ordinary things extraordinarily.
- Don’t forget that you are in competition for a partial share of discretionary income that is available for recreation. Horse ownership is expensive and owners spend the most when they are having fun.
- Don’t accept the things you like as being the same things other people do. Test your ideas on a wide variety of people.
- Don’t ever accept anything that is not targeted for excellence. If you are going to do something, do it right.
- Don’t forget the words a Greek philosopher uttered around 500 B.C., “There is nothing permanent except change.”