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 Minot, North Dakota, this past August.
I am pleased to share with you an update on Family Motor Coach Association and activities that have been occurring related to its operation since we last met. As of June 30, 2005, FMCA’s active membership count was 126,084 families, and the last membership number assigned was F364220.
In 2004 factory-to-dealer deliveries of RVs reached their highest level since 1978. The RV industry continues to do well in 2005 and to experience significant sales. Inventories at dealerships are high, representing their desire to meet this customer demand. The industry is showing a growing trend to generate brand recognition and customer loyalty through its advertising and support to owners.
Family Motor Coaching magazine, the most appreciated member benefit, continues to generate approximately one-half of the association’s revenue. Advertising revenues are on the increase and show the industry’s realization that Family Motor Coaching magazine is a great way to reach motorhoming consumers.
While addressing membership numbers and issues, I would like to share some statistics. When the Finance Committee made their recommendation for a dues increase, they also shared that research indicated that when organizations increase dues significantly (in FMCA’s case, 40 percent), many lose between 15 percent and 20 percent of their existing membership for this reason alone. In studying the effect of a $10 per year dues increase at FMCA, 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 23 years since dues had increased, the 5 percent estimate was considered appropriate.
While I would have preferred to end the year with positive membership growth, I was not completely discouraged by the way the membership numbers ended for 2004. The ending figure of 126,940 members represented a net decrease in membership of 2,198, or 1.7 percent.
The 2,198 net decrease in membership was further analyzed into two components. Compared to 2003, the number of members who renewed in 2004 decreased by 367. There were 4,260 more non-renewals in 2004 than 2003 (3.3 percent of those billed). FMCA’s renewal rate is about 3 percent lower than the last couple years, and the main thing that changed was the dues. We’ve always found that FMCA’s renewal rate averages over 85 percent, and everyone has agreed that an 85 percent renewal rate is exceptional. In 2004 the renewal rate dropped to 84.5 percent.
New member recruitments decreased by 1,831 members in 2004 when compared to 2003. In analyzing new member recruitments, the most significant decrease occurred in the recruitments credited to existing FMCA family members. In 2004, members recruited 1,517 fewer families than in 2003. As a way to reverse this trend, FMCA raised the reward coupon to $10 for each new member a current member recruits.
We did a considerable amount of research regarding the decreasing membership numbers that FMCA was experiencing. The findings showed that there was only one significant fact that held relevance, and that was that many members were just quitting motorhoming “” selling their motorhomes. When we reviewed the history of those who indicated that they were selling their motorhomes, the number of years that they had been FMCA members was well distributed over the years and did not fall into any one particular length of membership.
While smaller decreases were experienced in other categories, the number of new members recruited in 2004 through advertising credits increased by 674 over the amount in 2003. We developed a new brochure that was mailed out to motorhome manufacturers and dealers in May 2005 to once again announce the opportunity for them to sign up for the Advertising Exchange program. While the renewal rate of members acquired through this program does not match that of our family membership recruitments, it has been one of our greatest sources of new members, and over 50 percent of these families renew after the first year. Statistically speaking, I think you’ll find this is an excellent renewal rate for what is essentially a trial membership.
Membership for the first six months of 2005 is down by 856 families, or two-thirds of 1 percent. While FMCA is not currently experiencing growth in 2005, I am happy to report that several programs are being implemented in an effort to reverse this trend.
As reported earlier, the FMCA member recruitment reward (after receiving an FMCA North American Road Atlas & Travel Guide for the first recruitment) has been increased from a $5 coupon to a $10 coupon per successful recruitment. The Gimme Five family member recruitment program was renewed for the calendar year 2005. Members who recruit five family (F) members in 2005 automatically receive a free one-year membership renewal.
The campground membership recruitment program that started last year has been continued for another year, and the reward to campgrounds has been increased to $10 per successful member recruitment. We have already had requests from additional commercial member campgrounds to participate. We are in the process of soliciting new commercial member campgrounds and will be promoting the new family member recruitment rewards program as an added incentive for these campgrounds to join FMCA.
We have initiated a membership recruitment program with FMCA commercial member RV dealers/service providers (currently there are 397) similar to the campground program. The dealership will be asked to place the FMCA membership applications in a provided brochure holder on a counter where customers can take one. Membership applications will be pre-coded with the RV dealer/service providers’ commercial membership number. FMCA will provide $10 for each new member who joins using an application with the dealer/service provider’s commercial membership number on the referral line.
A free six-month trial subscription to Family Motor Coaching magazine will be made available to eligible individuals referred by FMCA members. Family Motor Coaching will contain two or three perforated postcards for individuals to fill out to receive a free six-month subscription. Members can share these with other motorhome owners and offer them the free subscription. FMCA members would indicate their F number as the referring party. Members would be rewarded for new member recruitments if the free subscription program recipient signs on at the end of the trial period to become a family member.
FMCA will be placing advertising on RV-related Internet Web sites. We also plan to design pages specifically for non-FMCA members that would include the new member application.
FMCA will hold a prize drawing for attendees at certain RV shows where FMCA volunteers man an FMCA booth. FMCA will give away several prizes as a result of RV show attendees filling out contact information cards. Among the prizes will be free memberships to FMCA, and staff members will follow up with all motorhome owners who provided contact information.
Other membership recruitment programs are under research and consideration. However, in any association, Member-Get-A-Member is the program that generates the best results, and FMCA is no different. Last year more than 41 percent of FMCA’s new members came from existing members’ recruiting efforts. This percentage far exceeds any other source of new members. So, I encourage all of you to continue to share the benefits of FMCA membership as you travel and meet other motorhome owners.
The MEDEX Emergency Medical Evacuation Program continues to be 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. This year FMCA was given the opportunity to extend this member benefit at the current rate for an additional year. This benefit has been so well received by the membership that its continuance at this time was very strongly encouraged. FMCA has now purchased this benefit for the membership through December 2007.
Rand McNally notified us last year that it would discontinue offering trip routing service effective September 1, 2004. Based upon the review of several trip routing service programs, the Executive Board gave the go-ahead to partner with Spatial Data Services Inc. and continue to provide trip routing services to members. Trip routing service can now be requested by mail, fax, or over the Internet.
The third edition of the FMCA North American Road Atlas & Travel Guide has been well received by the membership. We were able to keep the price at $14.95 each. FMCA has sent the Road Atlas & Travel Guide free to each member family who has recruited another member since January 1, 2005. In addition, copies are available for sale at conventions, area rallies, and 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 Membership Department.
Last year I announced that in an effort to encourage FMCA members to update their membership records online, the FMCA Web site was offering members a free FMCA Pride in America decal just by logging on as a member. Once you log on 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 or update other membership information. FMCA now offers a similar decal to our Canadian members. Only one decal per membership will be issued. Members must log on to FMCA.com to receive this decal.
Over the last year, FMCA has been searching out new benefits for our member families. I will list several of the new initiatives that are in place or planned for the future:
In April, FMCA announced a new partnership with American Family Life Assurance Company (AFLAC). AFLAC insurance pays you directly when you become sick “” cash when you need it most. Your regular health insurance should pay most of the doctor and hospital bills. However, deductibles and co-payments are not covered. Getting sick or injured also has financial consequences beyond the medical bills. FMCA has partnered to offer the AFLAC insurance programs at an association-discounted rate.
FMCA has entered into an agreement with Long Term Care Insurance Planners to offer a group rate discount on long-term care insurance for members. An article about the new program appears in the August 2005 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine.
FMCA has recently entered into an agreement that will provide the opportunity for FMCA members to purchase identity theft protection at a considerably reduced price. I know that we are constantly hearing about identify theft on the news, and the Membership/Member Services Committee has found a plan for the membership that will provide protection against identity theft or assist you in restoration if you become a victim. The Executive Director’s Commentary in the August 2005 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine addresses this dynamic new benefit.
FMCA is always looking for ways to assist you in recruiting new members to FMCA. We have partnered with Kampgrounds of America to add another new member benefit for those joining FMCA. Starting January 1, 2006, new members will receive in their new member packet a card that will entitle them to a six-month, free KOA Promotional Value Kard. This KOA card gives the holder a 10 percent discount on site registration at KOA campgrounds together with discounts for other KOA promotions and programs.
I reported to you last year on a new concept in chapter membership recruitment: the Chapter Fair. It was so successful in Albuquerque that many areas have begun holding them at their area rallies, with wonderful results. I am happy to report that the Chapter Fair held during the convention in Perry, Georgia, on Monday, March 21, was a very successful event. One hundred and fifteen chapters and 10 areas were represented. There were more than 1,700 non-chapter members registered for the Perry convention. Chapters participating in the Chapter Fair reported a total of 250 members joining chapters as a result of the event. We certainly appreciate the help of all who made this concept a success. We look forward to your chapters joining us at the Chapter Fair in Pomona, California, next year on March 20, 2006.
Last year I shared with you that a Motorhome Rights channel has been incorporated into the FMCA Web site. Now FMCA has a rallying point online for members who face parking restrictions and other motorhome rights issues. This Web site channel 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 pleased to announce that a new column is being added to Family Motor Coaching magazine that will further advise the membership about ongoing issues impacting their motorhome use. Beginning with the August 2005 issue and quarterly thereafter, “Legislative Updates” will track the status of bills, laws, proposals, and regulations affecting motorhome owners. The information will be the latest obtained by publication deadlines. You can also look for more timely updates on motorhome rights topics at www.fmca.com/motorhomerights.
I am very pleased with the national office staff who work to support the membership in the enjoyment and use of their motorhomes. Please do not hesitate to call the national office with your questions and inquiries. If you happen to be traveling through the Cincinnati area, please stop in and visit. We are very proud of the FMCA national office and would like to have you tour the buildings and see what you as members own. We encourage you when visiting to park your motorhome at the Round Bottom Road campground since the Clough Pike office parking lot is not configured to allow easy access for motorhomes.