Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
Editor’s note: Mr. Eversmann presented the following report to the FMCA Governing Board during its meeting in Redmond, Oregon, this past August.
It is my pleasure to provide an update regarding noteworthy activities within the Family Motor Coach Association since we last met.
As of July 31, 2004, FMCA’s active membership count was 128,812 families, and the last membership number assigned was F350514.
Last year I indicated to you that the industry had experienced a turnaround, and overall sales were up and dealer inventories were increasing, providing the customer with a better selection. The RV industry continues to do well and is currently experiencing significant sales. Unfortunately, magazine advertising in general has not recovered from the slump that began in the year 2000. Family Motor Coaching continues to experience lower advertising revenues, but things seem to have stabilized at this time. Motorhome manufacturers and dealers are not returning to their previous levels of expenditures. It also appears that they may be moving to other forms of promoting their products, such as developing their own magazines and marketing programs. They are concentrating on the sales that are developed through the loyalty of their customers.
Fortunately, expenditures in many related areas at FMCA have been reduced at the same time that advertising revenues have decreased. FMCA continues to solicit advertising accounts. Family Motor Coaching magazine, the most appreciated member benefit, continues to generate approximately one-half of the association’s revenue.
Realizing the decrease in revenues that FMCA has been experiencing for several years, the Executive Board asked the Governing Board last year to approve a dues increase. In the fourth quarter of last year, by mail ballot, the Governing Board approved a Bylaws change that authorized a dues increase. The Governing Board also concurred with the concept of permitting the membership to pay advance dues at the old discounted rate during the first quarter of 2004. The opportunity for FMCA members to purchase up to five additional years of prepaid dues at the old discounted multiyear rates expired on March 31, 2004.
I’d like to share with you some statistics regarding prepaid dues. At the end of 2003, there was a balance of $958,017 in the prepaid dues account. During the first three months of 2004, we took in prepaid dues in the amount of $1,153,580. This represents a 120 percent increase in the prepaid dues account.
On April 1, 2003, 19,994 members had prepaid dues on account. As of April 1, 2004, there were 31,935 members with prepaid dues. This is an increase of 11,941 members with prepaid dues. Statistically, 9.2 percent of the membership took advantage of the opportunity to purchase dues at the old discounted rate.
While addressing membership numbers and issues, I would like to share another statistic. When raising their dues, most associations anticipate a loss of members due to the increased cost for membership. In studying the effect of a $10 per year dues increase at FMCA after 23 years without one, the Finance Committee recommended that the 2004 budget reflect a loss of 5 percent of the membership. This was a very conservative number, considering that national statistics are usually much higher; however, given the fact that FMCA dues are significantly lower than most association dues and it had been a long time since dues had increased, the 5 percent estimate was considered appropriate.
Membership for the first seven months of 2004 is down by only 326 families or one-fourth of 1 percent. While FMCA is not growing in 2004 by the numbers experienced in 2003, I am happy to report to you that FMCA membership is holding its own.
One of the best recruitment tools the association has had over the years is members telling other motorhome owners about FMCA. Last year more than 45 percent of FMCA’s new members came from existing members’ recruiting efforts. This percentage far exceeds any other source of new members. With this in mind, the FMCA committees recommended a program for this year to reward our stellar recruiters. In addition to the regular incentives of the Membership Club, the FMCA North American Road Atlas & Travel Guide, and the $5 merchandise coupons for recruiting new members, in 2004 FMCA is rewarding members with a free year’s membership for every five new family members they successfully recruit.
Concerning FMCA’s long-term investments, Tim Lysaght, formerly of Salomon Smith Barney, and his team members have been providing financial planning and advisory services as well as coordinating the investment of FMCA and FMC’s funds with investment fund managers for a number of years. Last fall Tim and his consulting group moved from Salomon Smith Barney to Morgan Keegan. After interviewing both companies, the Executive Board determined that they wanted to stay with Tim Lysaght and his group for the management of FMCA and FMC investment funds. The Statement of Investment Policy P&P #2012/A naming the FMCA investment consultant has been adjusted to reflect this change.
After going through a similar process, the FMCA staff members on the 401(k) advisory committee determined that they wanted to stay with Tim Lysaght and authorized movement of the employee 401(k) funds management to Morgan Keegan.
Effective February 2, Ganis Credit Corporation changed its name to E*Trade Consumer Finance Corporation. FMCA has had a very beneficial relationship with Ganis Credit Corporation since 1988 and looks forward to continuing that with E*Trade Consumer Finance Corporation.
With their promotional mailing to the FMCA membership at about the same time, E*Trade Consumer Finance Corporation changed its refinancing policy. Under the revised policy, E*Trade will not refinance loans for current customers if the loan is from zero to 12 months old. If the loan is 13 to 24 months old, E*Trade will refinance it but will charge a 1 percent processing fee. Loans more than 24 months old will be refinanced with no processing fee. Prior to this change, Ganis’ policy was to not refinance its own loans.
Previously Ganis would not solicit its current customers when doing a promotional mailing. With their new policy, they will not solicit members whom E*Trade has financed in the last year, so they don’t offend anyone. Those members probably already have a rate similar to their current offer anyway.
The MEDEX Emergency Medical Evacuation Program has become an extremely valuable and essential benefit for the membership as we travel, and many members have told us that it is an excellent tool for recruiting new members. The catch-22 is that as members become aware of this benefit and it is utilized, the cost of this benefit increases. It is hoped that its use will stabilize soon. This year and last FMCA enjoyed a significantly reduced cost for this member benefit. In contracting for future years, the cost has increased 129 percent over previous costs. While FMCA does not want to get into the insurance business, this benefit has been so well received by the membership that its continuance at this time was very strongly encouraged. FMCA has purchased this benefit for the membership through December 2006.
Unfortunately, the opposite was true of the Accident and Dental Deductible and Coinsurance Reimbursement Insurance Plan. Due to rising costs, this member benefit was modified for 2004 to include only claims for accidents that require timely, emergency care that cannot wait until you return home. This modification was made based upon the rising cost of the benefit and was an attempt to keep it affordable. While this benefit has helped several of our members even after it was changed to an accident-only policy, it was determined that it has not provided a true benefit to the general membership commensurate with its cost. Looking ahead, the Risk Management Committee and Executive Board continued to see increasing costs associated with this benefit and decided to cancel it effective December 31, 2004, in favor of retaining the Emergency Medical Evacuation Program.
Thus far, the Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance purchased by FMCA continues to be an economical benefit to provide for its members. It is underwritten by optional Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance that is purchased by our members to complement and add to the benefit that FMCA provides. The Executive Board gave its okay for a mailing with information about the optional Loyal Years Accident Insurance Plan to be sent to members by a third-party mailing company in another attempt to continue to keep this benefit affordable for the association to provide its membership. In addition to an accidental death benefit, the Loyal Years Accident Insurance Plan provides payment of hospital, outpatient, and recuperation benefits in conjunction with a covered accident.
Rand McNally has notified us that they will discontinue offering Trip Routing Service effective September 1, 2004. The Executive Board gave the staff permission to find a replacement program. Several programs have been evaluated, and we believe we have found an acceptable replacement program. We hope to have it available to the membership in the near future.
I am happy to report that the second edition of the FMCA North American Road Atlas & Travel Guide has been well received by the membership. As a result, the Executive Board authorized an order for 15,000 copies of a third edition of the atlas. They have already been contracted for and will be available the first of next year. We will be able to keep the price at $14.95 each. FMCA will send a free revised atlas to each member family who recruits a new member starting on January 1, 2005. In addition, copies will be available for sale online at www.fmcastore.com or by calling (800) 543-3622 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday; ask for the FMCA Store.
In an effort to encourage FMCA members to update their membership records online, the FMCA Web site is now offering members a free FMCA Pride in America decal just by logging in as a member. Once you log in, a pop-up will appear asking whether you would like the free decal. When you hit “continue” you will have the opportunity to change or give us your current e-mail address. We felt that offering this colorful decal with the FMCA logo would be an inexpensive way of trying to keep e-mail addresses up-to-date. Only one decal per membership will be issued. Members must log in to FMCA.com to receive this decal.
As I reported last year, the Chapter Services staff continues to assist in getting more non-chapter members into chapters. Each area vice president appointed a chapter membership liaison for his or her respective area, and they have done an outstanding job in developing new chapters and encouraging members to consider chapter membership. The staff has thoroughly enjoyed working with these liaisons to further grow the chapter membership in each area.
A new concept this year in chapter membership recruitment, again from the Chapter Services Department, was the Chapter Fair. I am happy to report that the Chapter Fair held during the convention in Albuquerque on Monday, March 15, was a very successful event. One hundred and seven chapters, including two proposed chapters, decorated tables on the floor of the Tingley Coliseum. There were more than 1,200 non-chapter members registered for the Albuquerque convention. We sent out 105 comment cards to chapters participating in the Chapter Fair and we received 59 cards back. They reported a total of 78 members joining chapters as a result of the Chapter Fair. They also reported that approximately 351 members expressed an interest in joining a chapter. We certainly appreciate the help of all who made this concept a reality. We are currently planning to repeat the Chapter Fair in Perry, Georgia, next year.
Last year we replaced all of the items in the Chapter Prize Package, with the exception of the flashlight/lantern. The new logo-imprinted items include a wind chime, two stadium cushions, a Koozie 12-pack cooler, a copper 1-liter thermos, two copper beverage mugs, two Koozie can holders, and a fleece blanket. We recently have replaced the flashlight/lantern with an FMCA-logo-imprinted Red Cross First Aid Kit. We will also continue to include two copies of the FMCA North American Road Atlas & Travel Guide in each prize package when they are available.
Online convention exhibitor registration and the Commercial Membership Application were placed on the FMCA Web site on October 1, 2003. Online classified advertising was added to the FMCA Web site on November 6. Anyone who places a classified ad in Family Motor Coaching magazine may opt to have their ad placed online as a bonus ad. Or, anyone who wishes to place an online-only classified ad directly may do so by visiting FMCA.com/classifieds and using their credit card for payment. Details appear in the instructions box that accompanies the Classifieds section in the magazine and online at FMCA.com.
The Governance channel was incorporated into the FMCA Web site in April 2004. The Governance channel contains information about the Executive Board, FMCA committees, the Commercial Council, past national presidents, and governance documents. You’ll also find links to area association governance and chapter governance information.
The Motorhome Rights channel was incorporated into the FMCA Web site in June 2004. Now FMCA has a rallying point online for members who face parking restrictions and other motorhome rights issues. Motorhome Rights (www.fmca.com/motorhomerights) can help members to research rights issues, stay abreast of legislation, and make informed decisions on how to prevent the passage of unreasonable motorhome restrictions.
I am very pleased to notify you that Gale Norton, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, has indicated that she will be visiting the FMCA convention here in Redmond. She has been invited to speak to the membership prior to evening entertainment on Thursday. Secretary Norton has been very instrumental in reinitiating the Take Pride in America program. Although her comments will be short, it will be a wonderful opportunity for our members to hear from a person who is working very hard in support of recreational interests. She will be accompanied by Dave Humphreys, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association; Marti Allbright, executive director of Take Pride in America; and Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition. This visit is certainly reflective of the importance that FMCA and our events play in the RV industry and recreation in general.
In conjunction with Secretary Norton’s appearance in Redmond, Michelle Cangelosi, director, government & community relations of Take Pride in America, will present a seminar about the program on Thursday, August 19. Ms. Cangelosi will outline the goals of the Take Pride in America program; explain how the program works; and discuss awards that individuals and groups can earn for their participation in this volunteer effort.
The national office staff continues to strive to meet the needs of the FMCA membership, including its chapters and area associations, and to support the aims and purposes of the association. I continue to be pleased by the level of dedication and professionalism that the staff exhibits in their day-to-day work.