By Connie Pool, F140306, National President
Having just left our national headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, after two weeks of meetings with various FMCA committees and the Executive Board and staff, I wanted to continue my series of articles that describe the functions and duties of the various departments within FMCA. To date I have written about the Conventions and Commercial Services, Communications and Publishing, and Member Services departments. This month I want to focus on the Administrative Department, because of the extensive interaction and support they provide to the other four departments on a daily basis. I will discuss the functions of the Chapter Services Department in a future issue.
Administrative Department personnel like to refer to themselves as the “glue that holds it all together.” Probably the most important function they have is handling the finances of the association. Staff members open several hundred pieces of mail each day, including payments for new memberships, renewal dues, convention registrations, payments for magazine advertising, etc. Even though e-mail has taken over the world, a tremendous amount of postal mail continues to arrive each day and must be sorted and distributed. And, yes, like the rest of us, FMCA gets plenty of “junk mail” that must be handled.
Staff members process and deposit an average of 6,000 checks per month, plus hundreds of credit card payments each month. All of this information has to be entered into the financial database in order to produce timely financial statements at the end of the month.
They issue approximately 300 checks per month to cover invoice payments to vendors that FMCA uses, travel reimbursement claims, payments for services and supplies related to conventions, etc. They also are responsible for managing the cash flow to make sure we have the proper funds to pay vendors in a timely manner.
Every purchase for FMCA falls within the responsibility of this department, and the items include everything from paper, pens, pencils, and paper clips to the multi-thousand-dollar telephone system. They negotiate all communications contracts with the telephone vendors, along with all of FMCA’s copier leases and maintenance agreements.
At the end of every month, department members have specific responsibilities in order to close the month and produce a financial statement for the national treasurer and the Executive Board to review. These statements tell us the cost of the activities that went on for the month, and how we are doing compared to budget as well as to the prior year. The statements also outline the financial position of the association, listing all of the assets and liabilities. Governing Board members are provided quarterly financial statements for their review.
Among the employees in this department are the friendly voices you hear when you call the national office. All calls come to a receptionist, who is responsible for routing them to the proper staff members. A total of four employees serve as backups for one another to make sure the office phones are covered. Approximately 6,500 calls per month are received, which translates to 325 calls per day, or 40 calls per hour. When you call the FMCA office, you don’t have the frustration of being greeted by a recording and trying to figure out what department you may want. FMCA still has an operator to answer calls. However, at times you may receive an “operator overflow” recording, which means the receptionist is currently busy assisting another caller but will get to you in the order that your call was received. You may also hear a voice mail recording when the call is transferred to a staff member, which means the staff member you are calling is either out of the office, away from his or her desk, or on another call. We encourage all staff members to return calls promptly and to keep the message on their voice mail updated as to their current status.
Print shop functions fall under the auspices of the Administrative Department, with one staff member dedicated to the printing needs of all the departments. As previously reported, printing of Family Motor Coaching magazine is outsourced to a commercial printing company that prints and mails the magazine. However, almost everything else that is mailed out from the national office, with the exception of high-tech brochures, is printed in-house. These print jobs include area rally programs, confirmation materials and credentials for conventions, governance documents, minutes, and much more. FMCA leases a sophisticated color copier as well as a high-speed black-and-white copier. The Administrative Department also maintains several other networked copiers throughout the various departments that are used for smaller jobs.
The Administrative Department is responsible for all incoming and outgoing mail and for receiving all shipments. They utilize a large postage machine to help automate a portion of this task. The volume of general mail FMCA receives on a daily basis, added to the mail received in support of the 3,000-plus members who use the mail forwarding service, necessitated FMCA’s purchase of a 24-foot panel truck to pick up mail at the post office.
The department also serves as the messenger service for all departments, and FMCA owns two-seven passenger vans for hauling lighter loads and running all types of errands. FMCA owns two buildings: the main office at 8291 Clough Pike, and the Member Services and mail forwarding facility and accompanying 15 full-hookup-site campground located at 3590 Round Bottom Road. Responsibility for maintaining more than 34,500 square feet of office space and the campground facilities also falls under Administrative Department supervision. This includes the negotiation of all maintenance contracts for the buildings and grounds.
The Administrative Department also handles human resources functions for the staff of 57 full-time and 11 part-time employees. They oversee payroll, employee benefits and their administration, and contract negotiations for employee disability, health, dental, and retirement benefits.
FMCA has an extensive commercial insurance package, and Administrative Department personnel, along with the Risk Management Committee, are responsible for working with the agent of record to obtain the best coverages at a competitive price. They also handle all insurance-related claims from international conventions and from chapter and area rallies. They work closely with insurance adjusters to ensure timely payments when claims have been approved.
Last, but not least, the information technology staff and the Web site team fall under the direction of the Administrative Department. These groups function fairly independently and support all departments, including the Administrative Department. The IT staff supports more than 60 computers and 17 network servers. They write software applications to help everyone do their work faster and more efficiently. With the exception of the accounting software, the systems used are all customized applications, so maintenance and upgrades to the existing software is an ongoing task. IT staff members also support FMCA’s time clock, telephone, and building security systems.
FMCA went online with FMCA.com in 1997, and since that time the Web site has grown to several thousand pages. It brings information to members about benefits, upcoming conventions, area rallies, chapter rallies and other association events, governance documents, legislative issues, and more. The Web site also includes an archive of articles from past issues of Family Motor Coaching magazine. Members are able to update their personal records, pay their dues, and register for international conventions and most area rallies, among many other things online. The FMCA Store, which carries FMCA logo apparel and accessories, was recently revised by the Web team. We are aware of the need to upgrade our current site and are seeking money in the budget for 2009 to revamp the Web site to provide more enhancements for members, easier navigation, and additional information to attract those motorhome owners who are not yet members of FMCA.
With a staff of 15 (14 full-time personnel and one part-time), the Administrative Department wears many different hats and performs a wide variety of technical support. Many of the positions are filled by one dedicated person assisted by others who are cross-trained to help temporarily during high-demand times or to perform the function in the absence of the primary individual.
In closing, I again invite all of our members to stop by our headquarters in Cincinnati and utilize some of those two free nights of camping a month. After all, it is part of the membership benefits of belonging to the premier motorhome owners association. Make it a point to take the time to visit your facilities and meet some of the dedicated employees who exist to support all of us. The sites are available to any member on a first-come, first-served basis (no reservations are taken) for two nights per month. Since they can be filled during meetings, chapter gatherings, etc., we do encourage you to call ahead to check on availability: (800) 543-3622; ask for Betty Jo, extension 308. Also please note that the Clough Pike office parking lot is not able to accommodate motorhomes, so please bring your towed car.
In the meantime, I hope to see you in St. Paul, Minnesota, at FMCA’s 80th International Convention, July 14-17. It’s not too late to join us, as we’ll be accepting gate registrations on-site.
Peace, and may all your travels be safe and trouble-free.
Submit RV Friendly Comments
The Federal Highway Administration’s public comment period on proposed changes to the RV Friendly signage program continues through July 31. FMCA favors adoption of the program under the interim requirements approved in 2005. Those standards have garnered widespread support in the RV industry and have been endorsed by at least 15 states. To submit your comments, visit www.fmca.com/rvfriendly or refer to the “How To Support RV Friendly Program” article on page 101 of the April 2008 issue of FMC.