Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
Each year FMCA loses families from its membership rolls. Approximately 85 to 90 percent do renew each year, which is a statistic that would please most associations. Regardless, FMCA is sorry to see families drop out. Through surveys, we have found that most members leave FMCA because they no longer own a motorhome, and therefore no longer qualify for full membership. These people may have gone through a significant life event, such as the death of a spouse, inability to continue driving a large vehicle because of declining health, or a financial reversal that impacts their leisure activities.
Such circumstances are understandable and regrettable, but what concerns us is that some families stop pursuing the motorhome lifestyle because they can’t justify the coach’s expense when they consider how infrequently they use it. Many of these people have never developed what I would call a social use for the motorhome; they have used it only for sight-seeing trips. These activities are fun in a motorhome, but members who use their motorhomes only for this purpose are missing out on another world of group activities that make motorhoming worthwhile.
In my seminar about chapter membership, I talk about a typical family who might have purchased a motorhome and have $1,000 each month in related expenses (including the coach’s loan, insurance, maintenance, and storage fees). They may still be working and able to use their motorhome only on weekends, or they may not have the resources to travel very far in a vehicle that gets only 10 miles to the gallon. Perhaps they use the motorhome only 30 days a year. If they sit back and do the math using these numbers ($12,000 per year divided by 30 days), they’d find that it costs them $400 a day to use the motorhome. Anyone would realize that they can stay at a very nice resort or hotel penthouse for $400 a day, and that thought is all it takes for them to turn around and sell the motorhome and switch to other modes of travel.
Members of FMCA who have joined chapters have found other opportunities to use their motorhome and are busy seeing new places with the new friends they have made. They are experiencing all the fun they dreamed about getting from their investment. We have found through our research that members who are involved in chapters are less likely to leave the association. With that in mind, we put forth a constant effort to encourage members to join chapters and share in the fun and fellowship that comes with these groups.
Recently each FMCA area vice president was asked to appoint an individual to serve as a non-chapter liaison to help staff in the Chapter Services Department at the national office recruit members to existing chapters, or to help members form new chapters. These individuals have made significant contributions to that end and are working with us and their areas to assist motorhomers who are ready to be part of a chapter.
FMCA also will hold its first “chapter fair” at the international convention this month in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The chapter fair is scheduled to take place on Monday, March 15, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Tingley Coliseum. This event will permit chapters from all over the United States and Canada to discuss their activities with convention attendees.
Another way for you to learn about chapter membership is to talk with the national vice president of your area, or simply call the Chapter Services Department (800-543-3622) at the national office. Either way, we will help to link you up with several chapters that you can investigate and visit to find a fit based upon your location, interests, or other favorite activities.
Just let us know about your interest in chapter membership and we will send you a letter similar to the one routinely sent out by Northwest Area vice president Jim Phillips, F158824, in response to inquiries regarding chapter membership in his area. I think Jim says it all very well.
Dear (Member Name),
Thank you for your interest in an FMCA Northwest Area chapter. Those of us who have spent time in FMCA have learned over the years that one of the greatest benefits of membership in FMCA is belonging to a chapter. There is no set pattern among chapters. Each chapter has its own personality.
When you make the decision to join a particular chapter or chapters, you will find that you have joined a new “family.” Some of the members will become your closest friends. You will come closer and closer to them as time goes by. I have personally experienced the growing intensity of the friendships that have developed as a result of our belonging to different chapters. Ann and I are pleased with our relationship with many members of the nine chapters to which we belong. They are truly among our best friends.
However, the best way to begin is by visiting a chapter or two, which are based near where you live. While you are there, you can assess their scope, the friendliness of the chapter members, the things they do at the rallies, and on and on. If you don’t “click” with any of those chapters, we’ll keep feeding you different ones until you can find one that makes you really feel at home.
Attached is the list of the chapters with their contact information that we recommend you visit. Also enclosed is a copy of the Northwest Area and International Area chapter directories, which list the contact information for all the chapters in the Northwest and International areas. Should there be another chapter on the list that would interest you, do not hesitate to contact them. The contact person’s name, address, phone number, and e-mail address, if available, are shown for your use.
Please keep me posted as to your progress. I am interested in helping you find a chapter that you will enjoy. Good luck in your search.
Jim Phillips, National Vice President, Northwest Area