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 Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina, this past August.
I am pleased to share with you an update on the Family Motor Coach Association and activities that have been occurring related to its operation since we last met.
While recreation vehicle manufacturers’ shipment of all units to retailers in 2005 increased 3.9 percent over 2004, shipments of motorhomes in 2005 declined 14.5 percent compared to 2004. Type A motorhome shipments declined 18.1 percent in 2005, type B motorhomes gained 4 percent, and type C motorhome shipments declined 9.1 percent. To further define the type A motorhome decline, diesel motorhomes fell 22.6 percent while gasoline type A motorhomes dropped 13.9 percent. As you know, the RV industry tends to be cyclical, with inherent ups and downs.
On a positive note, the average age of FMCA members is 66 for males and 62 for females. The baby boomers are now approaching their retirement years and are making their retirement plans. All the research and surveys indicate that the demand in the future for recreation vehicles will continue to grow as this affluent group ages.
I am a member of the Go RVing Coalition Committee on Excellence. In the recent meeting I attended in Washington, D.C., on June 12, the agenda concentrated on the presentations and review of the work done by five recently formed task forces. The Committee on Excellence heard detailed presentations from the task force chairs that outlined possible strategies to address customer satisfaction issues in each area “” Industry-Wide Training, Product Quality, Replacement Parts Availability, Customer Warranty, and Industry Communications & Support.
On June 13, the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association’s Board of Directors passed a motion to support continuation of the Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence initiative to improve the industry’s customer satisfaction and loyalty. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s Board of Directors approved a similar motion on June 15 at its meeting in Washington, D.C. These actions mean that the task forces examining customer satisfaction issues will continue their work under the Committee on Excellence.
Family Motor Coaching magazine, the most appreciated FMCA member benefit, continues to generate a significant portion of the association’s revenue. Advertising revenues unfortunately have mirrored the motorhome industry’s downturn. Family Motor Coaching magazine is still the premier motorhome magazine and continues to be a great way to reach motorhoming consumers.
One of the recommendations of the magazine review completed in the fall of last year was to hire a design team with magazine design experience to work with the staff to redesign Family Motor Coaching magazine. The redesign will encompass the entire magazine, including the nameplate, the cover, the table of contents, features, departments, columns, etc. The content of the magazine has built a committed readership. The magazine needs a fresh new look to generate excitement among readers and advertisers. The contract award and work are projected to be completed in time to implement changes with the April 2007 issue.
The family membership numbers continue to concern all of us. I am sure that all of us have philosophies regarding this subject, but the bottom line is that there are motorhome owners out there who are not members of FMCA. Members continue to recruit more than 40 percent of new FMCA members. In the past new member recruitments exceeded the number of members made inactive, but that trend no longer exists. We are hopeful that this will turn around soon and renewed growth will take place. Even so, in 2005 FMCA’s renewal rate was 85 percent, and everyone has agreed that an 85 percent renewal rate is exceptional.
Several programs have been implemented in an effort to increase membership. The FMCA member recruitment reward (after receiving one copy of the Family Motor Coach Association North American Road Atlas and Travel Guide for the first recruitment) was increased in 2005 from a $5 coupon to a $10 coupon per successful recruitment. The Gimme Five family member recruitment program was renewed for calendar year 2006. Members who recruit five family (F) members in 2006 automatically receive a free one-year membership renewal.
The family membership recruitment program for campgrounds that started in 2004 has been continued for another year, and we have had requests from additional commercial member campgrounds to participate. We have solicited new commercial member campgrounds and have continued to promote the new family member recruitment rewards program as an added incentive for these campgrounds to join FMCA. Since the solicitation we have received 95 new campgrounds as commercial members, and the number of campgrounds participating in the family member recruitment rewards program is now 406.
We initiated a membership recruitment program with FMCA commercial member RV dealers/service providers similar to the campground program. The dealerships are asked to place FMCA membership applications in a provided brochure holder on a counter where customers can take one. Membership applications are pre-coded with the RV dealer/service provider’s commercial membership number. FMCA provides the dealer/service provider $10 for each new family member who joins using an application with the dealer/service provider’s commercial membership number on the referral line. Currently there are 384 commercial member listings that fall into this category. To date, 96 RV dealers/service providers are now participating in the program.
A free six-month trial subscription to Family Motor Coaching magazine has been made available to eligible individuals referred by FMCA members. Family Motor Coaching magazine contains two perforated post cards 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 indicate their F number as the referring party. Members are rewarded for new member recruitments if the free subscription program recipient signs on to become a family member at the end of the trial period. We currently are averaging more than 200 requests per month and have received new members that can be directly linked to this program.
The Membership Commission Program is off and running and has its first recruiter. FMCA now has an agreement to sell memberships over several RV-related sites, among them RVtravel.com. We will be advertising via the FMCA Web site for additional recruiters to participate in this program.
Another new recruitment tool involves prize drawings that FMCA holds for attendees at five large RV shows where FMCA volunteers operate an FMCA booth. FMCA gives away several prizes as a result of RV show attendees filling out contact information cards. Among the prizes are free FMCA memberships. Staff members follow up with all motorhome owners who provide contact information by signing them up for a free six-month trial subscription to Family Motor Coaching magazine even if they haven’t won a prize.
In an effort to familiarize the FMCA staff with the generation that is currently joining FMCA, the Executive Board approved hiring a Boomer Project consultant to come to Cincinnati and work with the staff. The consultant will educate and train our customer service staff; perform audits of current marketing materials; research ads and promotional pieces; and propose strategies and tactics to enhance FMCA’s communications efforts among Boomers over 50.
Again, permit me to emphasize that in any association, Member-Get-A-Member is the program that generates the best results, and FMCA is no different. Last year more than 40 percent of FMCA’s new members came from existing members’ recruiting efforts. This percentage exceeds any other source of new members. So, I encourage all of you to continue to remind your chapter members to share the benefits of FMCA membership as we 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. Many members have told us that it is an excellent tool for recruiting new members, and its popularity has led FMCA to extend this member benefit for an additional year. Now, members will have access to this valuable benefit through December 2008.
The fourth edition of the FMCA North American Road Atlas & Travel Guide was printed in July. We were able to keep the price at $14.95 each. As of July 1, FMCA has been sending this fourth edition of the Road Atlas & Travel Guide free to each member family that recruits another member. 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.
Over the past year, FMCA has been searching out new benefits for our member families. I will list several of the new initiatives that are in place:
FMCA has partnered with U.S. Bank to offer a new credit card program to the membership. We announced the new U.S. Bank credit card in the May 2006 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine. In addition to providing FMCA with a revenue stream to use for the association’s membership needs, as such programs typically do, members who use their U.S. Bank credit card can earn a reward point for each dollar they spend.
FMCA now has a new optional member benefit available for purchase that can provide you peace of mind when you travel anywhere outside of the United States. TravMed Abroad is a comprehensive travel medical insurance program for residents of the United States who are traveling abroad and incur a sudden illness or injury. A similar program is available for members who are not U.S. residents. We announced TravMed Abroad in the July 2006 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine.
FMCA also just introduced another member benefit that can be purchased to provide peace of mind while we travel and enjoy our motorhome lifestyle. FMCA has partnered with Monitronics to provide home security monitoring systems and monitoring services to FMCA members at a discount. Monitronics is the fourth-largest of 10,000 security companies in the United States and provides nationwide coverage through 400 authorized dealers and an established network of service providers. We also announced the Monitronics partnership in the July 2006 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine.
I shared with you last year the success of the new concept in chapter membership recruitment, the Chapter Fair. Many areas have begun holding chapter fairs at their area rallies with wonderful results. Routinely, we have only offered the Chapter Fairs at winter conventions due to the magnitude of programs and meetings held at the summer conventions. I am happy to report that, since we believed the audience in Charlotte/Concord might be significantly different than at other conventions, we have scheduled a Chapter Fair for this convention. A considerable number of chapters and all 10 areas will be represented. We certainly appreciate the help of all who make this concept a success. We look forward to your chapters also joining us at the Chapter Fair in Perry, Georgia, next year on March 19, 2007.
Last year I shared with you that a new column was being added to Family Motor Coaching magazine to further help members to research motorhome rights issues, stay abreast of legislation, and make informed decisions on how to prevent the passage of unreasonable restrictions that impact their motorhome use. The “Legislative Updates” column began with the August 2005 issue and has appeared periodically to help readers track the status of bills, laws, proposals, and regulations affecting motorhome owners. The information is the latest obtained by publication deadlines. You can look for more timely updates on motorhome rights topics at www.fmca.com/motorhomerights.
The Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee has also produced a PowerPoint presentation that can be used by members in speaking to groups, homeowners associations, and local municipalities that are considering parking restrictions in their communities. The presentation clearly defines the residential parking philosophies of FMCA.
The staff at the national office is there to assist you in getting the most out of your FMCA membership and to assist you in recruiting others to this wonderful lifestyle. Please call or e-mail the national office with your questions and inquiries. We certainly would enjoy sharing a tour of the FMCA national office with you should you happen to be traveling through the Cincinnati area. Please stop and visit. When visiting, we encourage you 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.