2013

New Growth
From Stronger Roots

Robert Skrob

No one who knows more about making associations grow than the team at Membership Services, Inc. As the only association management company that specializes in membership marketing, recruitment and retention we've become experts in helping associations achieve their mission through membership growth. We do this by relentless focus on growing membership participation, sponsor recruitment and attracting vendors excited to participate in the association.

Rather than give you a list of services, here are a few examples of our clients and the success they experienced during 2013. There’s nothing confidential about what’s revealed here, but it is enlightening. While so many nonprofits complain about decreasing donations and growing competition, our associations thrive and expand in so many ways.

Although the associations are diverse there is one common denominator, growth through excellent communications. People are busier and more distracted than ever. There is a flood of free, disorganized content thrown at them from every device, media and interaction. Our communications are fine-tuned to encourage new member recruitment, current member participation and achieve industry public policy objectives.

The stories revealed here are inspiring successes, but what is more important, they reflect the cutting-edge, real-world best practices of association management today. I hope you find these stories informative and fun to read.

If you know of an association who could use our help helping it grow, you are welcome to give me a call at 850-222-6000.

Best wishes,

Robert Skrob, CPA, CAE

Membership Growth & Improved
Legislative Advocacy

Beautiful houses in a nice neighborhood
Through aggressive grassroots outreach to Sen. Bill Nelson and Sen. Marco Rubio, CAHP members helped US lawmakers understand affordable housing programs produce almost 100,000 affordable rental homes for Floridians each year.

CAHP - Coalition of Affordable Housing Providers, Inc. Through letters, the members of the Coalition of Affordable Housing Providers communicated with U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson:

Today about 35 percent of all households live in rental housing, and their annual income is on average less than half the annual income of homeowners. Yet three-quarters of all federal expenditures on housing—tax expenditures and direct spending—go to support homeownership.

According to the June 2013 “State of the Nation’s Housing” report from the Harvard Joint Center on Housing Studies, the country faces a growing affordable rental housing crisis. In 2011, there were only 6.8 million affordable units for 12.1 million extremely low-income renters nationwide. This affordability gap is exacerbated by higher income households competing with low-income renters for affordable units, as well as by widespread structural inadequacy in affordable housing stock. As a result, there exist only 30 adequate, available, and affordable units for every 100 extremely low-income households in the United States. The gap between affordable units and low-income renters in need of housing continues to widen each year, and the Housing Credit is virtually the only significant source of capital to address this need.

When Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch outlined their “blank slate” approach to tax reform, in which they will initially eliminate all exclusions, deductions and credits, and will add them back in only if they have sufficient support from their colleagues in the Senate, the members of CAHP responded.

CAHP mobilized a grassroots advocacy program to educate lawmakers about the value of affordable housing tax credits to the state’s economy. This work had an obvious impact on improving the appreciation for this program, both in Washington, D.C., and in Tallahassee.

This effort was just one of many successes for the Coalition of Affordable Housing Providers. In 2013, membership increased by 50 percent as additional companies were attracted to CAHP’s ongoing advocacy efforts.

In addition, CAHP organized a CCE and conducted a fund-raising campaign that brought in $60,000.00 to support candidates for the state House of Representatives and the state Senate. These funds gave CAHP members access to important legislative decision makers to educate them about affordable housing issues. This is a terrific outcome for a first-year effort.

CAHP is well positioned to make several legislative gains in 2014. A growing economy puts increased pressure on rental rates. The work that affordable housing providers do to provide safe and reasonably priced housing for the 35 percent of our state’s population that doesn’t own a home creates jobs and grows Florida’s economy.

Improved Communications Create Strong Bonds Among Members

FADMO - Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations To build a stronger bond among members of the Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations, Membership Services, Inc., invested significant resources into expanding the editorial content of FADMO’s monthly newsletter.

Already a leading publication among Florida’s tourism industry, in 2013 the newsletter expanded to include members’ commentary on current events and profiles of new tourism directors in addition to the news it has been providing for years. This format helped to foster relationships and connections among members in between industry meetings.

Robert Skrob addresses the attendees at Florida Tourism Day in Tallahassee on March 13. This year’s event had record attendance.

This improved relationship proved important during the Florida Legislative Session when a bill was sponsored that would have diverted the Tourist Development Taxes, which counties use to conduct their tourism marketing activities, toward public safety expenses. The industry responded with a grassroots advocacy campaign dedicated to educating members of the Florida Legislature on the value of tourism marketing. While that effort was a success in 2013, it’s imperative for the association to remain vigilant in 2014, as the same lawmakers who proposed this expansion will be back.

In furthering one of its primary legislative priorities since 2004, FADMO filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought by a group of Florida counties against online retailers such as Expedia and Travelocity. The online travel business model has these companies remitting sales and Tourist Development Taxes on only the wholesale transaction. Counties brought forward a lawsuit that reached the Florida Supreme Court for a decision on the issue. FADMO provided insight to the court on the impact this decision could have on the projects supported by these revenues.

FADMO also expanded the support it provides individual members within their communities. On behalf of FADMO, Executive Director Robert Skrob spoke at several local community meetings in Gadsden, Pasco and Polk counties. This provided members with an opportunity to educate members of their communities about issues at the statewide level that will have a local impact.

These past successes and improved member communication tools give FADMO an excellent foundation for success in 2014.

Reshaping the Affordable
Housing Industry

FAHRO One of the most critical roles of any association is to help ensure the success and perpetuation of its industry. This theme has become central to the focus of the Florida Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (FAHRO) over the last year. Florida’s primary providers of affordable housing to our state’s most vulnerable citizens have experienced underfunding since the 1980s and have made it their mantra to find new ways to do more with less. This, despite being expected not only to provide decent, safe and affordable housing, but also a host of social services that are often mandated, but not funded.

Through a biennial strategic planning process, FAHRO takes the time to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses as an association. The association’s leaders and members also scan their environment to identify opportunities and threats that lie beyond their control so they can prepare for them. FAHRO’s members have always been mindful that the day could arrive when chronic underfunding by the federal government would pose a threat to the continued existence of their affordable housing agencies. Though not yet here, those days now seem within sight. The good news … FAHRO has been preparing.

Over the last decade, Florida’s housing agencies have been working through their association to diversify their housing portfolios and to be entrepreneurial in pursuit of their mission. By enacting landmark changes to housing statutes in 2005 that made it considerably easier for housing authorities to pursue tax credits and other initiatives promoted by the association, housing authorities are slowly developing alternate funding streams. Replacing the cornerstone funding source of these agencies is likely impossible, however, so it becomes imperative to formulate a comprehensive strategy to simplify, supplement and synergize their operations to ensure continuity.

Newly seated FAHRO President Maria A. Burger has made the theme for her term “Innovate. Perpetuate.” Two words say it all. Building on the success of her predecessors, Maria has already achieved unprecedented participation and member engagement through surveys and in-person strategy meetings. Emerging from these discussions are three consistent messages: 1) The federal government needs to fulfill its obligations to affordable housing programs by fully funding them; 2) To the extent that full funding is not achieved, regulatory relief from Congress and HUD to alleviate costly and unnecessary administrative burdens is essential; and 3) Changes to Florida statutes are needed to provide greater flexibility and to allow expanded entrepreneurism among housing agencies to serve their clients.

Together, FAHRO will innovate new strategies and methods to ensure the perpetuation of the affordable housing industry and its mission to provide homes for Florida’s most vulnerable citizens.

Dispelling Myths, Improving
the Perception of the
Industry’s Reputation

FAPEO - Florida Association of Professional Employer Organizations Professional employer organizations (PEOs) provide outsourced human resources to businesses throughout the state. In fact, Florida is the largest state for the industry, with 6 percent of all workers employed with a PEO.

For more than 25 years, the PEO industry has worked hard to educate business owners, lawmakers and the general public about the benefits the PEO industry provides. Yet several myths about the industry persist.

To help dispel these myths, the Florida Association of Professional Employer Organizations (FAPEO) partnered with NAPEO (the national association) and the Workers’ Compensation Institute to develop a training curriculum about the PEO industry. One of the featured speakers at a training event was the chief economist for the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), Harry Shuford, who recently completed an in-depth study of the PEO industry.

Mr. Shuford reviewed two years’ worth of data and concluded that many of the myths perpetuated about the PEO industry are not borne out by the facts. In fact, during the session about his research, Mr. Shuford presented his data along with the comment:

Our research into PEOs has shown that the empirical evidence disproves the myth that PEOs are “the problem” in the insurance industry. But that is where psychology comes into play. For more than 20 years, people have had in their minds that PEOs are a problem. So, whenever a problem does occur with a PEO, that problem gets noticed more than it would for any other company. Now we have empirical data so you can compare what has been going in the underwriting marketplace with the PEO contract compared to the regular insurance contract. It will take time to change people’s perceptions, but now we have the evidence PEOs need to improve their image in the marketplace.

FAPEO has published these findings about the industry to equip PEOs with accurate information to use in their advocacy efforts. And the association plans to publish a brief for lawmakers so they can learn the truth about the benefits of the PEO industry.

In addition to these efforts, members of FAPEO visited Tallahassee on March 18 for the PEO CEO Legislative Summit. Members had appointments with their local lawmakers and had the opportunity to educate them about the benefits PEOs provide to their local communities.

Promoting Professionals in the Moving Industry Through ProMover®

FMWA CEO Corey Mathews, AMSA CEO Linda Bauer Darr and FMWA Chairman Andy Newitt celebrate the official launch of the Florida ProMover® program. The Florida ProMover logo is the sign of a reputable and professional Florida mover.

FMWA - Florida Movers and Warehousemen's Association The last few years, since the burst of the housing bubble, have been as hard on the moving industry as any out there, with Florida being among the hardest hit. In fact, it is estimated that at least 30 percent of the industry went out of business or consolidated during the last four years. Those who survived downsized and managed through the challenge, much as the association has been forced to do. However, like its members, the Florida Movers and Warehousemen’s Association (FMWA) has never lost sight of its purpose or that better days lie ahead.

Last year’s annual report noted that FMWA was working to implement the Florida ProMover® program in conjunction with its partners at the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA). In the early part of the year, that effort bore fruit with the official launch of the program. Less than a year later, there are almost two dozen registered Florida ProMovers, making it the second largest and fastest growing program of its type in the nation.

As part of the launch of the Florida ProMover program, FMWA attended the industry’s national conference in Atlanta and hosted a press conference at the Florida Capital Press Center, where association leaders educated the press about the program, receiving coverage both by television media and National Public Radio. These efforts ensure that FMWA will continue to grow consumers’ awareness of the ProMover program as the gold standard of professional movers in the industry.

Building on the popularity and success of this program, FMWA has been working with its national van line partners to promote the Florida ProMover program and membership in the association. Several national van lines have already reached out to their agents to endorse this effort, which has fueled a 15 percent growth in FMWA membership.

Florida’s movers and FMWA are thrilled that Florida’s economy and, by extension, its professional movers have gotten our state moving again!

Creating a Pathway to Success

FMWA CEO Corey Mathews, AMSA CEO Linda Bauer Darr and FMWA Chairman Andy Newitt celebrate the official launch of the Florida ProMover® program. The Florida ProMover logo is the sign of a reputable and professional Florida mover.

We all can remember starting off in our careers, or even being further along and wondering about the next step. Most of us figured it out somehow, or we got guidance from a colleague, or we even went a different direction. What we all wish we had was a clear path for progressing in our careers. Thanks to the Professional Insurance Agents of Florida (PIA of Florida), the insurance agency world need no longer want for that direction.

Over the past year, PIA of Florida has worked to create a remarkable educational track for insurance agents. From pre-licensing to agency ownership, the association has all the courses an agent needs. PIA of Florida has developed courses all over the state so that with only a short drive, agents can obtain a professional designation or catch up on continuing education requirements. Each program, assembled through the association’s various educational partners, is designed to shepherd participants at all levels, from interested in the field of insurance to agency ownership—or any point along the way. The beauty of the system is its flexibility. It does not presume that everyone wants to be an agency owner, or even that they wish to reach a pinnacle designation; however, regardless of one’s level of experience—from novice to veteran—if an insurance agent is looking for “what’s next,” the PIA of Florida Career Path provides the next step.

Steps on this journey through the insurance agent’s career path include programs offered through PIA of Florida’s educational partners, including The Institutes, which offers the Accredited Advisor in Insurance (AAI) and the Accredited Customer Service Representative (ACSR) designations; the AIMS Society, which promotes the Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) designation; and the Central Insurance School, which created the Professional in Insurance Account Management (PIAM) and the Certified Professional in Insurance (CPII) designations. These partners allow PIA of Florida to offer nationally recognized designations to set agents apart in the competitive insurance industry.

Education has and will always be a cornerstone value of PIA of Florida, and the official launch of the Career Path will ensure that Florida’s insurance agents continue to be able to look to their association as THE place to go to grow their skills and to advance their careers.

It is this confidence the members have in their association that contributes to the continued growth and success of PIA of Florida. Combined with the association’s other core values of communication and advocacy, where the association was the sole voice to quash language that would have usurped agents’ commissions to pay for an experimental program, Career Path makes PIA of Florida Always the Right Step!

Leadership Through Transition

Most of the MSi family of clients have been with us for decades and know that the secret to our success is the continued growth and accomplishment of our existing client base. For that reason, MSi rarely accepts new clients. When we do, it is something we do with careful thought and consideration. Nearly three years since we accepted our last client, we opened our doors to the Florida Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (FLASLA) in the last quarter of this year.

FLASLA and its members bring with them a rich history of service to the state of Florida and its citizens through the intelligent design of outdoor areas to achieve environmental, social and aesthetic outcomes for society. From an organizational perspective, FLASLA boasts an incredibly strong structure of engaged volunteers who are committed to the industry and their association. However, their professional management history has been somewhat inconsistent, resulting in volunteer leaders not always having the systems and support they need to accomplish their objectives.

MSi has already made great progress in developing and implementing an improved database to make it easier to communicate and interact with members, as well as to identify and recruit potential members. Additionally, we have begun the process of implementing uniform systems and procedures, as well as a central repository of the association’s information. The result will be to bring much-needed stability and continuity to this great organization.

An added bonus for us, as great lovers of the state of Florida, is to be able to promote the amazing work of Florida’s landscape architects through their annual Design Awards program. Among the 2013 winners was a revision to the master plan of historic Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales that simultaneously preserves the vision of philanthropist Edward Bok and the design of Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., while allowing for the expansion to include new features, such as a Children’s Garden, an Education Center and improved circulation for the visiting public.

As we look forward to the future, we are excited to work with FLASLA to continue to grow the association’s annual conference, which is recognized as the largest of its kind in the nation. We also will work to diversify the association’s programming and revenue streams while building the systems necessary to support the group’s volunteer structure and to create organizational stability and continuity for years to come.

World-Class Training
Program Exclusively for
Association Members

Florida Harley-Davidson Dealers Association For more than a decade, Florida Harley-Davidson dealerships enjoyed record year-over-year sales. Dealers everywhere were successful.

In the years since the 2008 recession began, business has been a lot tougher. Running a dealership efficiently, reducing costs and maximizing every revenue opportunity have never been more important.

In response, dealers throughout Florida came together with the Florida Harley-Davidson® Dealers Association (FHDDA) to create a world-class training program for dealership personnel. During 2013, this training program expanded to three full weeks of training for all dealership employees.

Florida has become the envy of Harley-Davidson dealers throughout the country because of its education program. In other states, Harley dealers have to contract directly for their own training classes or send employees to Milwaukee. In Florida, dealers can benefit from economies of scale, having the costs of training shared by all dealers. It’s all in an effort to make everyone better, employing the theory “a rising tide raises all boats.”

More importantly, the association has fostered a closer working relationship among dealers who are starting to understand that other dealers aren’t their primary competitors. Rather, Home Depot, Best Buy and the boat dealerships are more important competitors that, together, FHDDA members can overcome.

The 2013 training program featured sequential training sessions for sales managers, service managers and Motorclothes® managers. The training in July built upon the class attended in April, and the class in October built upon the two previous sessions. This sequential training model can address more advanced dealership issues than would otherwise be possible, outside of a costly one-on-one consultation. Robert Skrob worked with subject matter experts to create a custom curriculum for each of these important dealership department managers.

The Florida Harley-Davidson Dealers Association has proved that working together makes everyone more productive and profitable.

Team Member Updates

At Membership Services, Inc., we encourage members of our team to build fulfilling careers and personal lives. This ensures they are motivated to provide a positive image of the association every time they answer one of our member’s phone calls. Here are brief updates on our team.

Robert Skrob, CPA, CAE

Robert and his family enjoy Florida State athletics programs, with season tickets for football, basketball and baseball games. In addition to spending a week at St. George Island this year, the Skrob family also got away to Key West to enjoy diving in the area. Robert and his wife, Kory, are proud of their daughter, Samantha, a senior at Leon High School who was just notified of her acceptance to Florida State University, and their son, Robert William, a freshman at Leon High School who volunteers as an attorney to represent his peers in Leon County Teen Court.

Corey G. Matthews, CAE

Corey is an accomplished association executive, community leader, loving husband to Beth and father of Jack and Tom. In 2013, Corey continued to expand his knowledge of association management, building on his more than 13 years of experience. In his personal life, he was elected senior warden at his local Masonic lodge, became head coach for the Blue Blazes, his sons’ under-6 soccer team, and even had time to get married and honeymoon in New England. Though he rarely has free time to call his own, he is constantly working to better himself and those around him.

Suzanne Hurst, CAE

The American Society of Association Executives designated Suzanne as a Certified Association Executive this year. This process included a detailed application outlining her work experience as well as a full-day examination. Suzanne enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about associations throughout the country, and we are all big winners because of the additional knowledge and perspective she gained from the process. In this photo, FADMO Chairman Dan Rowe presents Suzanne with her CAE designation.

Cherie Robson

After almost a year and a half with the MSi team, Cherie continues to flourish. Her hard work and attention to detail do not go unnoticed; they exemplify the qualities for which our organization prides itself and are why she handles our education and events. Cherie was married to David Pinsky in June. Their world seems to revolve around Ava, their 4-year-old ballerina with a tiny voice and a big personality.

Jon Shiver

Jon is always ready for the next challenge. Now in his fourth year at MSi, Jon has been up for anything that has come his way. The past year has been a big one for Jon, both personally and in his career. He completed three triathlons, married the love of his life, Abigail, in November and has taken on more responsibility with our clients, overseeing all communications and marketing. He is ready to take 2014 head on and is already training both physically and mentally.

MaryLu Winchester

Everything revolves around MaryLu at MSi. Since 2007, MaryLu has ensured that all financial transactions are recorded appropriately, accounts are reconciled and reports are distributed to clients. MaryLu and her husband, Richard, are proud of their son, Andrew, who is pursuing a degree at Santa Fe College, and their daughter, Lindsey, a senior at Leon High School who is deciding on college.

Annette Smith

After 20 years’ experience in the insurance industry, Annette was ready for a new challenge when she joined MSi in a new role in our membership department. With a heart for customer service, Annette brings a sincere interest in helping members, the core foundation and value of our company. Annette and her husband, Brian, are active members of First Baptist Church of Quincy. They are committed to their role as young adult leaders at FBQ and are looking forward to returning to the mission field this summer with a short trip to the mountains of Honduras. In their spare time, Annette and Brian enjoy spending time outdoors, hiking, fishing and camping.

Denise McKinlay

Since 2005, Denise has been a loyal full-time member of the MSi team. Denise manages member databases within YourMembership, InfusionSoft and MS Access to ensure our members are properly invoiced. She also handles customer service for our larger associations, ensuring members receive a prompt reply to their questions. Denise has worked virtually for the last eight years. This year she relocated to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, from New Hampshire to experience a new part of the country. In her spare time, Denise teaches meditation, runs a small group called the Dharma-Bums, sews, knits and plays with her dog, Griffin, a female miniature schnauzer.

Consulting Clients

In addition to the great services Membership Services, Inc., provides for our associations, Robert Skrob and his team also work with several consulting clients to help them within their businesses.

Doubling Practice, Launching New Business

Dr. Jeffrey Anzalone doubled his periodontist practice by implementing the referral generating strategies he received from his June 2012 consulting day with Robert Skrob. In August 2013, Dr. Anzalone returned for another consultation, and by December 6, Dr. Anzalone had held his first seminar to teach dental specialists how to market their practices and had launched a new area-exclusive coaching program. Dr. Anzalone had Si Robertson and Mountain Man from the hit A&E show Duck Dynasty at his event to mingle with attendees.

Increasing Value of Event, Creating New Business

Dr. Darold Opp, a dentist from Aberdeen, South Dakota (population 26,791), holds an annual client appreciation event with fun activities for families. He applied one strategy after meeting with Robert Skrob for a consulting day and increased the number of new patients he received from the event by 33 percent. He created a training program to teach other dentists how to hold their own client appreciation events and gave a presentation at a national dental conference, his first-ever presentation in his 30+ year career. (He even purchased his first suit and tie for the occasion.) From that presentation, five dentists chose to license Dr. Opp’s program to hold a Dr. Opp-style event for their communities.

Providing Resources for Families With Ailing Loved Ones

When a family member enters assisted living or nursing care, navigating the maze of laws and emotions can be daunting. Elder law attorneys Doug and Cindy Jones consulted with Robert Skrob to expand the number of families they can help. Today they are publishing their first book, providing families with information and resources to make them great advocates for members of their family who need professional care.

Expanding a Consulting Business to the World Wide Web

John Cotton owns Dental Team Performance, a consulting firm for the dental industry. Although Mr. Cotton helps a lot of dentists within 500 miles of his offices in Birmingham, Alabama, he’s limited because of available time. During a consulting day in June, Mr. Cotton created a detailed plan for taking his best programs and making them available digitally so dentists around the country can take advantage of his expertise. Then Mr. Cotton returned for a second consulting day in November to create a licensing program for other consultants to use his strategies in their own areas.

Expanded Markets for Sales System

Dustin Mathews and his business partner, Dave VanHoose, consult with clients to create one-to-many sales presentations. These are 60- to 90-minute speeches that allow a speaker to generate sales at the back of the room after the presentation. While the duo has been successful for many years, Mr. Mathews visited Robert Skrob for a consulting day to create a plan for expanding the appeal of Mathews’ and VanHoose’s sales systems to more markets. Mr. Skrob worked with Mr. Mathews to create a plan to generate business from new industries, including franchises that need to deliver high-value sales presentations to prospective customers.

You are welcome to visit your new headquarters office in Tallahassee, Florida. Its location is convenient to Tallahassee’s largest neighborhoods as well as to the state Capitol and state offices.

Your New Association
Headquarters Office

This year included a significant upgrade in facilities and capability for your association headquarters. Membership Services, Inc., moved to a new headquarters office within Tallahassee, Florida. You are welcome to visit us the next time you are in Tallahassee. In the meantime, here is a photo tour:

MSi’s owner, Robert Skrob, has a red office complete with a small conference table for important guests, such as you, who may stop in to meet with him.
Here is your association’s new conference room where we host meetings with important policymakers from throughout Florida.
Visitors to your association’s new headquarters offices are greeted by a clean and bright reception area.

Membership Services, Inc.
Membership Marketing Quotient

Here are the six phases of membership marketing that we implement for our associations here at MSi:

  1. I

    Establish Trust

    Establish trust with members so they believe you can and will accomplish what you promise, you have the resources to fulfill your mission and you’ll follow through on your commitments.

  2. II

    Build Affinity

    Ensure your members feel they are welcome and that other people just like them are also members. Build a relationship with members so they see your association as "the place for them."

  3. III

    Demonstrate ROI

    Demonstrate that "what they get" value far surpasses anything members could receive by investing their dues dollars somewhere else, including not spending the dollars at all. Illustrate this ROI in a compelling, transparent manner.

  1. IV

    Foster Engagement

    Create opportunities for members to take action to help fulfill the mission of the association and to accomplish their personal goals. Move them from passive recipients to active participants.

  2. V

    Provide Connection

    Put members into contact with other members to foster relationships. In the end, members stay connected to their association because they feel a connection with other members. The sooner you build those relationships, the sooner you have a member for life.

  3. VI

    Create Ambassadors

    Once you have fulfilled the first five phases of membership marketing, your association’s #1 recruitment asset is its existing members. Give members the tools they need to recruit new members, and create a culture of positive recognition for your member ambassadors.