Whether you operate a Self Storage facility, Serviced Office, a Marina, Gym or a Retail outlet – it’s likely that there’s an industry association out there for your line of work. However, I’m often surprised when people say that they’re not members – listing reasons such as “it’s not worth it”, “I didn’t know there was one” & “Oh, that’s only for big companies”.
Association Membership is not just for the big companies. In fact, the smaller the company, the greater the benefit will likely be!
Value for money is usually fantastic and businesses of any size will definitely see ‘benefit in belonging’. Now while my list of six reasons is by no means an exhaustive list, they are my personal favourites – and the ones which I see will grant you the most benefit of your membership. So without further delay, let’s jump right in and take a look at six fundamental reasons why I think you should join your local industry association.
Some people prefer diagrams – so I’ve included one for you above… but scroll down for a detailed look at the six fundamental reasons why I think you should join your local industry association.
Reason 1: Advice
Industry associations, especially those that have been around for some time & communicate well with their members, will generally have come across every scenario under the sun. As such, the legal documents & advice provided by said Association will likely cover most sticky situations that you and your business may come across.
One such example is the Self Storage Association of Australasia. They have developed fantastic legal agreements between you (the business) and the customer (the person storing goods in self storage, in this example). Now normally, if you weren’t an association member, you’d have to find a lawyer that specialised in your industry & pay them (likely a large sum of money) to develop a largely untested legal document that your customers would sign.
Considering that most associations would include these agreements and a pre-determined amount of legal advice within their membership fees, I think you’re already probably “in front” from a financial point of view, simply by joining your association for this aspect alone. Furthermore, industry-specific associations will have likely engaged industry-specific lawyers to write agreements and assist members with any legal issues that they’ve come across. So again, the key “Join for the Advice” ideology behind this reason becomes clearer the more you consider it.
Reason 2: Sharing is Caring
How often do you ask friends & family if a certain brand of TV or phone is any good? What about café’s or restaurants? Gathering knowledge from those you trust is important – and what better than a group of like-minded individuals.
Sharing ideas & knowledge with others in your industry is a fantastic way to help you bounce ideas off others and get their advice on a range of topics, as well as with certain challenges they may have faced in dealing with customers or even councils and other Government bodies when it comes to planning, development & business expansion.
Some associations also have a wealth of online resources available – such as blogs and discussion forums for their members, which are definitely worth checking out.
Reason 3: Community
Similar to the aforementioned “Sharing is Caring”, the sense of belonging to a community makes for a better business. If we take our above two reasons and combine them with a community of like-minded individuals (which, let’s face it, is what most Industry Associations aim to build), we end up with a fantastic support network you can rely on & consult in times of need – such as when business is slow, when dealing with a difficult customer – or even when dealing with a disaster of some kind.
Furthermore, members of that same community will be present at industry events such as tradeshows, conferences, meetings and so forth, thus allowing you to network with colleagues, friends and other association members, see the latest offerings from industry suppliers (often called “Service Members”) and much more.
In the case of the Marina Industries Association (MIA) and the Self Storage Association of Australasia (SSAA) – two of several associations that StorMan is closely involved with – both run annual events such as tradeshows, seminars and, in the case of the SSAA, regular meetings at various places around the country to allow members to get together over a glass of wine and a meal & share stories, assist new members and catch-up on the latest the industry has to offer.
Association will often also publish industry fact books and surveys that are a fantastic resource for helping you plan your business to meet the needs of the consumer. Additionally, many associations publish blogs, marketing guides, run online Q&A’s and more to help you grow your business.
Many associations will also provide advice on operational, legal and regulatory issues. They will also often advertise employment opportunities within its member-base & help you find quality, qualified staff – as well as run industry-relevant training courses & educational programs – often, as is the case with the MIA, with globally recognised certification.
Reason 4: Power
The larger the membership of an organisation or association, the more power and “sway” they can have. This can come in handy when dealing with suppliers (ie. getting you, the association member, a “better deal” from an industry supplier simply due to the number of members) & even with councils and other Government entities.
One such example is the “Traffic and Parking Study” – commissioned by the SSAA to help address a lack of specific guidelines relating to the number of parking spaces required to adequately service self storage facilities. The study identified typical vehicle parking demands and trip generation rates exhibited by self storage units around Australia.
Another example is the Self Storage Association of Australasia’s (SSAA’s) Storer Check initiative. Much like Real Estate Agents often subscribe to a database of blacklisted tenants, storage facilities can do the same by searching Storer Check – an online database of bad storers. Naturally, those that are not members of the association would not get access to this system – thus putting them at risk of dealing with a potentially bad payer, an abusive customer, and so on.
Reason 5: Price
The cost of being a member of your local industry association is often far less than it would cost you to do all of the above on your own. Think about the pain of dealing with a bad payer or a “dodgy customer” that trashes your business (both physically & online), the legal fees involved in getting agreements drawn up, the costs associated with a legal issue that might arise… not to mention the lack of cost-savings that would likely only be awarded by suppliers to association members – it all adds up. As they say, “it pays to belong”.
Reason 6: Future
And finally, we come to the future. Your ongoing membership to your local industry association ensures you’ll always have access to the latest legal agreements, the many resources & publications from said association and you’ll help pave the future of your industry!
With so much to gain for so little outlay, I think joining your local industry association is a fantastic idea. Furthermore, keep in mind that many are not-for-profit – so it’s not about the money – it’s about helping you & the industry as a whole. Why not contact your local industry association today?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post – feel free to share it with colleagues or leave me a comment below if you found it useful!
By Andy (Customer Experience & Marketing Manager, StorMan Software)
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