By Jerry Yeatts, F390000
The following are excerpts from the executive director’s report to the Governing Board in Gillette, Wyoming, on June 19, 2013.
Happy 50th birthday, FMCA! You are looking pretty darn good at 50 years. As executive director of this great organization, I am pleased to submit a report of association activities that have taken place at the national office since the last Governing Board meeting, August 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
As I had reported to you at the last Governing Board meeting, the Executive Board tasked the national office staff with identifying $1.2 million in expenses that could be reduced over a 12-month period. Staff members scrutinized all budget lines, and the reductions were implemented during the May 2012 Executive Board meeting. While there have been some unexpected expenses over the past year, the national office staff has continued to closely monitor the overall expenses of the association.
In September 2012, membership renewals began to be included with Family Motor Coaching magazine. This new process has resulted in substantial savings in postage as compared to the prior process. For members opting not to receive a magazine, renewal notifications are being sent in an envelope.
Two individuals were hired on a temporary basis in October 2012 to make outbound calls to members whose memberships have lapsed. Over 1,000 members have renewed their memberships as a result of the efforts of these two part-time temporary employees. Seeing the value with these two individuals, we have expanded membership calling efforts to include commercial member calls, as well as prospective member calls.
Computer Conversion Update
The long-anticipated transition to a new membership management and customer relations software system is in the final conversion and testing stages and will be fully operational as we prepare for the next fiscal year. Failures with the current hardware and software, and unanticipated challenges in converting data, delayed the overall implementation of the conversion. With the support of the Executive Board and the guidance of John Ferrari, F369332, husband of national secretary Vicky Ferrari, steady progress has been made over the past six months in evaluating data and converting more than one million member files. The staff continues to look forward to working with this new system.
Marketing And Membership Initiatives
In May 2012, FMCA was fortunate to have retained the services of Jon Tancredi, TPR Associates, to bolster the public relations efforts of this association among motorhome owners and future FMCA members. FMCA has been on the news in such media markets as Los Angeles, California; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Kearney, Nebraska; Dayton, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Rockford, Illinois; Springfield, Missouri; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In August 2012, immediate past Southeast Area vice president Ralph Marino appeared on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends Weekend” show in New York City. FMCA experienced a bump in the number of hits on the association’s Web site following his appearance. FMCA continues to strengthen its position as “The Voice” of the motorhome owner.
Mr. Tancredi’s life was cut short in March 2013, as he died unexpectedly at the age of 42, just two weeks prior to the birth of his child. Our thoughts go out to his family.
A search has been launched for a company that may move FMCA’s national marketing efforts in a new direction. The goal remains to build FMCA’s brand through traditional and new media outlets, as well as to establish it as the authoritative source of everything motorhoming: joining the world’s largest motorized RV owners club, advocating for motorhome owners, encouraging motorhome use, educating novice and veteran RVers, demonstrating the fun of the motorhome lifestyle, and offering expertise on motorhoming.
Mike and Jennifer Wendland, F426141, have remained positive role models for motorhoming since they embarked on a journey August 2012 in their Roadtrek RS-Adventurous. Mike has been a reporter for NBC for a number of years, and spent years working for the Detroit News and later the Detroit Free Press, and he has seen most of the country from 30,000 feet. Termed the “Open Mike Tour,” over the course of a two-week period, Mike and Jennifer traveled from Detroit to Yellowstone National Park, and then to Indianapolis, discussing the joys of motorhome travel and the benefits of membership in FMCA with various media markets. During this tour, Mike wrote a blog that could be read on FMCA.com, as well as on Facebook and other social media. His monthly column, “Open Mike,” made its debut in the September 2012 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine, and we anticipate more fascinating articles and interesting tours from Mike and Jennifer in the future.
How do we get our name out to the estimated 1.4 million families who own motorhomes? While a number of members continue the grassroots approach through one-on-one communications at campgrounds and other events, resources need to be made available to create a sustained awareness campaign on a national basis. Already in the works is a media presence on public television’s “Breakthroughs” with Martin Sheen. FMCA will benefit from having a year-long presence in 60 million households, including a five-minute educational documentary profile of the association; a one-minute commercial segment produced for network broadcast in prime time in 84 million homes via MSNBC and CNBC, and airing 400 times in the top 200 Direct Marketing Areas on such networks as CNBC, CNN Headline News, The Learning Channel, and the Discovery Channel; and a five-minute documentary that FMCA may use for streaming on FMCA.com, and that will be sent to 1 million viewers who match certain demographics.
In addition, FMCA will be a commercial sponsor for The Texas Tenors on their public television national membership campaign tour. This concert will be aired over the PBS national membership drive during the December holidays, as well as during the spring 2014 membership drive. In return, The Texas Tenors will be placing a one-minute commercial for FMCA on nearly 1 million videos that will be distributed during the PBS membership campaign. They also will be performing during FMCA’s 89th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase in Perry, Georgia, March 2014.
By now, I hope you have had an opportunity to download FMCA’s smartphone app for use with Apple and Android products. Utilizing this technology is another way FMCA is connecting members to resources while on the road.
The digital edition of Family Motor Coaching magazine launched in January 2013 with the February issue of the beloved publication. Response by the membership regarding the digital edition has been very positive. To view Family Motor Coaching on your laptop or tablet, simply go to www.fmcmagazine.com/digital.
FMCA currently has 682 campgrounds as FMCA commercial members, up from 655 campgrounds, as reported at the last Governing Board meeting. We continue to add more campgrounds and resorts on a monthly basis to the Campground Connection program as a benefit for the membership. As part of this special program, members may search FMCA.com or the smartphone app for campgrounds and resorts in a specific area. An interactive map helps guide members to the facility, and the app provides information about accommodations and a means to contact the campground. FMCA merely asks the campground or resort to offer a 10 percent discount on overnight stays. These Campground Connection partners are also being encouraged to assist with FMCA’s recruitment efforts and to sign up families for membership in FMCA.
More than 4,000 members have benefited from the Michelin Advantage tire program since its inception. This benefit has saved many members hundreds of dollars off the cost of tires. FMCA has continued discussions with Michelin on expanding this very popular and successful program.
The Tour Connection, powered by Fantasy RV Tours, continues to be extremely popular, offering 20 rallies and caravans, as well as two cruises, for 2013-2014. As of February 2013, Fantasy RV Tours had recruited 119 new FMCA members and convinced many more members to renew their memberships in order to receive a discount for an FMCA Members Only tour. The Tour Connection, powered by Fantasy RV Tours, has truly been a win-win-win situation for Fantasy RV Tours, FMCA, and the FMCA membership.
The Office Depot national discount program has also been a popular new member benefit, offering discounts on thousands of items, as well as free shipping on orders over $50.
Costco Wholesale National Membership Program is one of FMCA’s newest member benefits. Although there is a $55 membership fee for Costco, members signing up receive coupons for free products and other savings valued at more than $50, including a free Kirkland Signature rotisserie chicken, a free 35-pack of 16.9-ounce Kirkland Signature spring water or drinking water, a free 48-pack of Kirkland Signature “AA” batteries, and more.
FMCAssist, powered by Seven Corners, provides medical evacuation assistance worldwide to eligible members traveling more than 100 miles from the member’s permanent primary residence. If the member is a full-time RVer with no permanent primary residence, the 100-mile restriction does not apply. Benefits provided by this voluntary plan underwritten by Lloyds of London include emergency medical evacuation/repatriation, emergency medical reunion, return of mortal remains, return of dependents, vehicle return, pet return, prescription medication and glasses replacement, and assistance services. Any FMCA member may contact Seven Corners for assistance as needed, with the member being directly responsible for all related expenses. Or, members may sign up and pay a low annual premium for the Voluntary Member Participation Plan, which pays for covered expenses up to certain maximums. Additional information and registration for this voluntary benefit is available at FMCA.sevencorners.com.
“Connections” seems to be an appropriate name for the tremendous efforts made by these companies. FMCA has also continued to reinvigorate relationships with longtime partners such as Kampgrounds of America (KOA), National African-American RVers Association (NAARVA), and National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). Through these relationships, we hope to continue to grow our membership, offer benefits to the members, and strengthen our ties within the industry.
As FMCA continues this year-long celebration honoring the great tradition of families and motorhoming, we also wish to prepare for a bright future welcoming a new generation of motorhome owners to the family. With the Governing Board, Executive Board, national office staff, and members all working together, we will continue to build upon the idea that although the motorhome lifestyle is what brought us together, it’s the fun, friendship, and fellowship that keep us coming back.
FMCA is very fortunate to have such a dedicated staff working on behalf of the association on a daily basis. We are looking forward to celebrating many more anniversary milestones!