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  Guest Editorial

It's All About the Relationship

Posted 5/15/2007
By Neva Hollins

Investing in relationships can be key to membership building.

Recruiting is expensive, but I'm not talking about money. What I'm talking about involves time and giving of yourself. As the executive director of ASA-Georgia, I have found that developing relationships with your members is far more important than just having a high membership count. The Automotive Service Association and ASA-Georgia (ASA-GA) have many associate benefits that can attract shop owners to join ASA and save money. But what I have found is that while the benefits of membership are nice, it's ASA's emphasis on having a relationship with a member company that is priceless.

Last year, I visited a particular shop at least a half-dozen times but I never tried to pressure them into joining. I wanted to focus on developing a relationship with this company. So I would stop by regularly and remind them that if there were anything I could ever do to help them, to call me.

I knew this shop wasn't completely sold on ASA and that the dues were a little steep for this small shop in a small town. One Friday evening, the office manager of the shop called and left a message on the ASA-GA voice-mail line asking me to call her as soon as possible. I called her the next morning and during that time, she shared an issue with me that they had encountered the day before. I told her that ASA could help them with that problem. She asked if I could get them signed up immediately so that we could call the national office first thing Monday morning to get the help she needed. I drove 20 miles to the shop that afternoon to get the shop signed up.

On Monday, after joining, the issue was resolved, thanks to the benefits offered by an ASA benefit provider. The following week, this new member shop attended an ASA-GA chapter meeting in a nearby town, and ever since, has gotten involved with the chapter and its meetings. When its dues are up for renewal, I'm certain the shop will remember the value of its ASA membership and it will rejoin.

In another town in Georgia, I had a shop that was struggling to pay its membership fees that were past due. I went to see them on my way to a chapter meeting one day in a nearby town. The shop shared how it had an issue with an ASA-GA allied member and was thinking about changing companies and dropping its membership. I told them I could help. I shared with the shop that ASA-GA had another allied member it could contact. It did change to the other ASA allied member and renewed its membership dues. My relationship with this shop saved the shop money and also saved its membership in ASA. Helping shops go to the next level is what I enjoy most about working for ASA. I enjoy serving the members.

Remember the challenge given to us by ASA Chairman Charlie Elder? As you'll recall, he challenged each one of us to select a shop owner we know and mentor him or her. Writing in his Chairman's Message last July, he said: "Build a relationship [with the shop owner] and show them the benefit of belonging to a larger group of people helping each other succeed. As the relationship grows, you can invite them to join ASA and receive even more benefits."

I'm sure you have friends in the automotive service industry that need ASA. You already have a relationship with them. Invest some time and effort and cultivate this relationship. Relationships are an important part of membership building. Quality relationships are key to a strong membership.

R.W. O'Gorman Neva Hollins is executive director of ASA-Georgia. She can be reached at neva@ASAshop.org.


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