Ten reasons to join your local MTA

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Dealer Outlook – Post Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Boat dealers, marinas, industry suppliers and firms servicing the industry should be members of their local Marine Trades Association. I believe a large number of appropriate firms fail to recognize the value of membership in their local MTA.

What is that value?

First, let’s be clear – an association exists to forward the interests of its members. It’s that simple. 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, because it allowed me to highlight the many things the association did. I always used the punch line: “And your membership supports your industry!”

That worked well in the 80’s and 90’s when baby boomers were heading up our businesses and, if for no other reason, agreed that joining was the thing to do. They bought into the “support your industry” message.

Today we must recognize our dealerships and businesses are headed by Gen Xer’s and Millennials who are more likely to ask: “What’s the ROI from being a member?”

Two things are now in play when it comes to identifying the value of an MTA membership. First, there can be direct value from, let’s say, the MTA’s legislative advocacy program. That’s reason enough to join. But, let’s face it: when an MTA is successful legislatively, the other stakeholders in the industry will also get the value of those efforts without having to pay anything in membership dues. So, there needs to be more.

And there is.

The value of membership now must include services and benefits only a member can receive. Member show discounts, newsletters, co-op advertising, educational seminars, meetings, group insurance, legal opinions and more will elevate the ROI for every dues-paying member. So, membership in your MTA can and will produce a generous return in products and services.

So, if you’re not a current member of your local MTA, here are ten reasons to join today:

  1. The MTA accomplishes tasks for your business that would be very hard for you to do by yourself. Look at the constant stream of regulatory proposals. It would take you or your staff hours to research, monitor, compile and act on any proposals. So, if it took even 40 hours a year for you to find all the information that your MTA provides you as a member, your ROI on your dues investment is 40 times the real cost per hour, including benefits, paid to that employee(s) to find the same information.
  2. Many MTAs produce boat shows offering space, tickets, decorating, utilities, service and other discounts for members that produce an instant ROI on the membership dues.
  3. Educational seminars and speakers covering subjects from employee recruitment to digital marketing programs allow you to sell more boats and services.
  4. They organize and/or sponsor community events that promote boating in your marketing area.
  5. MTAs keep members informed through newsletters, members-only websites, email notices and they are always available for personal phone calls.
  6. They often fund college scholarship programs available to your employees and their kids as a no-cost benefit you can provide.
  7. They negotiate directly with federal and state agencies for funding and development of facilities that provide more access for boaters, and keep up with growth of the sport.
  8. They also produce intangible and ephemeral things that add up to real dollars. These are things most members never see because the MTA makes sure they never happen. They include tax increases that didn’t happen. Regulations that disappeared. Permits that speedily arrived. Positive policies and funding benefitting dealers’ customers.
  9. MTAs bring assets and people together to effect change that positively impacts dealerships, businesses, employees and your customers.
  10. Every day, MTAs serve as the advocate you simply haven’t the time or talent to be for yourself.

I often told a prospective member that if I couldn’t show him a positive ROI from his membership dues after one year, I would happily refund his dues plus 15 percent – more than he could get for that money anywhere else. I never had to refund a penny.

Join your MTA today – it’s a smart investment for a generous ROI.

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