10 Reasons to Join Your Local MTA

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On Tuesday, I wrote about the need to increase dues in all the industry’s marine trade associations. Boat dealers, marinas, industry suppliers and firms servicing the industry should be members of their local MTA.

If you weren’t convinced, this should help.

While there’s no known study that breaks out the number of members versus non-members in any given state, there’s a large number of appropriate firms failing to recognize the value or the ROI from such a membership.

Simply stated, an MTA exists to forward the interests of its members. I recall being asked many times what the benefits were of joining during my years with the Cleveland-based Lake Erie Marine Trades Association. “So glad you asked,” I would happily respond. It allowed me to highlight the many things the LEMTA did, and I always used the punchline “and your membership directly supports your industry.”

The “support your industry” appeal worked well in the ‘80s and ‘90s when baby boomers were heading up our businesses and many agreed joining was the right thing to do. But today we must recognize our dealerships and businesses are headed by Gen Xer’s and Millennials who are most likely to ask: “What’s the ROI from being a member?”

Things are more complicated today. An example: There can be direct positive value from, an MTA’s legislative advocacy program. That’s reason enough to join. However, when an MTA is successful legislatively, the other stakeholders in the industry will also get the value of those efforts without paying a dime in dues. So, there needs to be more value — and there is.

To produce more membership ROI these days, MTA’s include services and benefits that are exclusive to members. I’m talking good things like: member show discounts, newsletters, co-op advertising, educational seminars, meetings, group insurance, legal opinions and much more that elevate the ROI. Thus, membership in your MTA will produce a generous return in products and services, at a bargain price, too.

Not a current member of your local MTA? Here are ten reasons to join today:

1. This is number one! . . . the MTA does things critical to the success of your dealership or business that you can’t accomplish by yourself. Information and actions by the MTA’s during this Covid-19 pandemic have prevented marine businesses from being ordered to close. Even trying to navigate today’s flood of state and local regulatory proposals would take you or your staff hours to research, monitoring, compiling and acting on the requirements. Your MTA screens and advises. So, if it took even 10 hours a week for you to find and digest all the information your MTA provides you as a member, your ROI on your dues investment is 10 times the real cost per hour (don’t forget benefits cost), paid to that employee(s) to find the same information. You do the math.

2. Many MTA’s produce boat shows offering space, tickets, decorating, utilities, service and other discounts for members.

3. MTA’s offer educational seminars and speakers on valuable subjects ranging from employee recruitment to digital marketing programs necessary for you to sell more boats and services in the online age.

4. MTA’s organize and/or sponsor community events and media outreaches that promote boating in your marketing area.

5. MTA’s keep their members exclusively informed through newsletters, members-only websites, Zoom meetings, email notices — and they’re always available by phone.

6. MTA’s fund scholarship program for college and/or technical training, all available to your employees and their kids as a no-cost benefit you can provide.

7. MTA’s influence and negotiate directly with federal and state agencies for funding to build access facilities for your customers, to keep up with growth of our sport.

8. MTA’s also produce intangible and ephemeral things that add up to real dollars for you as a member. But these are things most members never see that alone can keep thousands of dollars in your bank account! Tax increases that didn’t happen. Regulations that disappeared. Permits that speedily arrived. Positive policies and funding benefitting dealers’ customers. All the bad things MTA’s work to make sure never come to pass.

9. MTA’s consistently bring assets and people together to effect change that positively impacts dealerships, marinas, supply businesses, employees and customers.

10. Bottom Line: Every day, MTA’s are the advocate you simply haven’t time or expertise to undertake yourself.

In my years at the LEMTA, I relished the chance to tell prospective members that if I couldn’t show them a positive ROI for their membership dues after one year, I would gladly refund every penny plus 15 percent.

I never had to refund a penny in 34 years!

Join your MTA today — it’s a smart investment with a generous ROI.

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