It was my honor to address HBA members at our annual HBA Christmas Party & Banquet on December 13. Turnout was the strongest we’ve had in years, and I was energized by the interactions I had with fellow HBA members before, during, and after the evening event!
As we commemorated the passing of 2011 and welcomed the new year, we celebrated successes of the past year, and thanked those who made it all possible. And we began again to dream a little bit.
Together, we are embracing a bold vision, common goals, and shared priorities for the year ahead. So, for those who were not able to join us, or for others who might like to look a little more closely at what we covered together that evening, I’m breaking the main content of my speech from that night into a three-part blog post here on SpringfieldHBA.com:
PART ONE: Membership is Our Foundation
In year one of our HBA’s new strategic plan, we’ve accomplished a lot of exciting new things (new website, marketing tools catalog, Local Impact of Housing Study, National Association Excellence Awards, etc.). But, even while we accomplished these things, as the year went on, it became increasingly clear that, in order to really chart out “how we get there,” we needed a better understanding of ourselves: who we are and what we want.
To learn about ourselves, I listened carefully. Among the ways we discovered who we are and what we want: Strategic Planning sessions. Counsel from trusted advisors. Member feedback breakfasts with the President.
We learned a lot about ourselves through our year-long journey. We learned that different parts of our membership have differing expectations about what they want from their HBA membership. For example, we learned that (alongside a long list of expected member benefits and opportunities), above all else: Builders Want Advocacy. And Associates Want Builders.
Learning these different expectations has helped us develop new ways to make those expectations work together.
We discovered that Membership is our Foundation. We learned that Education is our Standard. And we established that Advocacy is our Prize. Membership. Education. Advocacy. As we commit to work side by side toward these shared priorities, we will also find lots of opportunities to “build business” along the way. But before we get to that…
As builders, we know that any home is only as good as the quality of its foundation, so, let’s begin with our foundation, membership.
We set ambitious membership growth goals. We have no desire to grow our membership merely for growth’s own sake. But there are specific reasons why a growing, robust membership matters to you and me as members of the HBA of Greater Springfield.
You see, everything the HBA does on behalf of its members and the industry depends on successful recruitment, retention and overall growth of our membership. As we grow, we become better advocates, educators, business generators, marketers, etc. In short, the HBA’s growth makes us increasingly better at everything that you count on the HBA to provide or enhance. Put simply: membership is our foundation for everything else.
I am proud to share that we already are on the verge of achieving the first goal, in just the first year of our plan: Our HBA’s 2011 member retention rate through October was 83% (with two months to go!). At a time when HBA membership retention nationwide hovers around 60%, and when so many businesses are struggling, our high retention rate says something positive about what it means to be a member of the HBA of Greater Springfield.
That increased retention is partly due to our increased emphasis on Member Engagement in 2011. We developed a scoring tool for evaluating the value that member “events” had to HBA members. And we inventoried just how many events we were offering.
With more than ninety “event days” per year, HBA members felt overwhelmed. And our evaluation discovered that some of these events held little real value for members. So, we streamlined. We decided to place fewer demands on members, but to dramatically improve on the quality and value of the opportunities we offer.
To help members get the most bang for their membership buck, we initiated a Member Engagement Mixer, providing members with an unprecedented opportunity to engage in their membership and maximize the value they receive for their membership dues.
Those who came learned how to receive great value in education, advocacy, marketing, media, volunteerism, savings, and networking (online and in person).
The membership committee initiated quarterly MyHBA Luncheons, free to all HBA members. These gatherings are a great way for new members to immediately engage in their membership and for longtime members to learn about new values of their membership (or even “old” values they never knew were there)!
And hey, how often do you get offered a free lunch in this economy?
For those whose schedules won’t allow them to take advantage of in-person engagement training, we also began a new blog, the HBA Membership Matters blog on SpringfieldHBA.com. This blog is by members, for members. In it, you can read testimonials of various ways that your fellow members have found value in their HBA membership (opportunities you also can access).
So, in year one of the new strategic plan, we really hit the ground running on our membership objectives. But 2011 was really only the beginning. All of our work in 2011 just set the stage for an exciting new membership plan for the future, set to launch in the weeks ahead.
In 2012, our HBA Membership Committee is expanding, and we need your help! The new Membership Council will consist of 30 to 40 of our leading HBA members. The council will meet quarterly. Each member of the membership council is asked to recruit one new HBA member per quarter – we’ll even provide you with the leads! Please consider serving on the Membership Council. With your help, we can strengthen our HBA’s foundation of a strong and growing membership.
To serve on the Membership council you have to recruit new members. But you don’t have to serve on the Membership Council to recruit new members. Anybody can do it! Please, tell other professionals in the industry of the value you find as a member of the HBA (or of the value others have shared on the Membership Matters Blog). If you need help enumerating the HBA’s top membership selling points, go to SpringfieldHBA.com/whyjoin.
With our foundation of membership established and becoming stronger, we can turn our attention to our other shared priorities: our standard (education) and our prize (advocacy). Keep watching this space for parts two and three of this three part “Looking Ahead” blog.