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Operator’s Perspective: Professional Associations: Increasing Membership Increases The Value

Professional Associations: Increasing Membership Increas


June 10, 2008
By Lio Prataviera

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When it comes to the health and future success of your business,
there’s only one thing more important than being a member of a
professional trade association, and that’s being an active member.

When it comes to the health and future success of your business, there’s only one thing more important than being a member of a professional trade association, and that’s being an active member.

As a member of the Ontario Coffee & Vending Service Association (OCVSA), I recently attended their annual conference and trade show, held this year at the beautiful White Oaks Resort and Conference Centre in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The benefits of attending this show cannot be overstated; it’s an important venue for keeping up with what’s happening in our business as well as a preview of new technology and thinking.
 
Since the show, however, I’ve had a chance to discuss the event with other members who attended and we all seem to have a common concern, which is the constant need for fresh membership and fresh thinking. These are the two essential elements that keep every association and its events beneficial to its members from year to year.

Events like this are extremely important to the continued success of our industry and so it’s equally important that those of us who attend regularly are always on the lookout for new members who will benefit as much as we have. Fresh perspectives are what keep the association relevant to the industry as a whole and increasing our total membership makes it stronger and more focused on success.

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Increasing membership is no easy task for any association, regardless of the sector it serves. This is why it would be good to engage the full cross section of the office coffee and vending machine service industry by becoming members of other related professional associations such as CAMA (the Canadian Automatic Merchandising Association). What we learn in one can be introduced to the other. Holding regular quarterly or bimonthly meetings featuring informative presentations by industry leaders, as well as our peers, will bring all attendees up to speed on the burning issues we face that directly impact our daily operations and the continued health of our bottom line. Yet the single most important benefit is the networking where we can share ideas, learn about new products and suppliers, pick up successful tips on more effective sales and promotion techniques plus participate in other important discussions such as technical trouble-shooting and cost management.

Not everyone can attend the annual association shows (even though the benefits to your own business are obvious to those who do) so these regular meetings would be an excellent way to network, learn about new trends and inject new thinking into the association as a whole. The venue doesn’t have to be fancy; it could be in a member’s warehouse or a quiet section in a restaurant where there’s room to have an open discussion without
disturbing other patrons. In this case, simple is not only good; it’s best of all.

But there’s one last important reason why increasing our membership is vital to the current and future health of our industry, and that’s political. More members mean a louder voice for us all. Larger membership and greater participation in associations like the OCVSA and CAMA bring the vending community together to address the issues that count for each one of us; ‘strength in numbers’ is the best insurance against government policies that would do direct harm to each and every single one of us. It really is that simple.

Let’s get together more often and let’s get more involved in the associations that represent our industry’s best interests … you’ll be amazed at what you learn and just how much it’ll benefit your business. New membership and the sharing of new ideas are the best guarantee of our industry’s future success.