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Value of associations?28th of June 2012
Companies in the USA are increasingly questioning the value of association membership, explains ECJ correspondent Ron Segura.
Here in the United States, the issues impacting the majority of building service contractors (BSCs) can be overwhelming. Many are seeing the value of being a member of industry associations that provide them a voice and resources to survive in a down economy.
For example Curtis McLemore, ceo of McLemore Building Maintenance in Houston, Texas, has been a member of Building Service Contractors International (BSCAI) for several years. His father was a past president of the association, and has been able to perceive a tremendous value in the membership.
"If a member attends the conventions, seminars, networks with other members, becomes involved in committees and or joins the leadership ranks the ROI or value can be tremendous," he explained.
BSCAI annual membership for my company's size are $1,650.00 (1,320 euros). Five years ago at BSCAI's annual convention I attended a session on operational efficiencies. When we implemented the operational efficiencies learned in the session the ROI on an annual basis was one per cent.
You might say, one per cent, big deal! Well one per cent on $24 million (19 million euros) annual revenue = $240,000 (190,000 euros) annually. Over five years that's $1.2 million (960,000 euros).
Chris Mundschenk, executive vice president of BSCAI states “Our new Purchase Advantage Program is a purchasing programme that allows BSCAI members to save substantially on name brand jan-san and office supplies, gather useful data on purchases and streamline utilisation, ordering and delivery. It is saving our members more than the cost of membership after their first order in some cases!”
Because in the USA there issues specific to each region, associations such as the Pacific Association of Building Service Contractors (PABSCO) were formed. From the very inception of the organisation, its top priority was to hire a state lobbyist to represent the BSC in addressing the issues of tax on services, illegal subcontracting and high workers' compensation insurance base rates for janitorial services.
Today, according to Chris Waldheim of J’s Maintenance in California and current PABSCO president: "There are new laws to prevent mis-classification of employees as subcontractors and there are state entities which have developed a deeper understanding of the underground economy and the threats and challenges faced in the janitorial industry.
"Catching, convicting and collecting from these companies will continue to be the goal. States are desperately looking for revenue and there is much to be gained from 'under the table'."
"Regional groups provide greater accessibility to more members," adds Curtis McLemore. "Their value to national and international groups is they are the feedstock to greater membership."
With regard to alliances with other associations Chris Mundschenk explained: "BSCAI has a great relationship with the World Federation of Building Service Contractors (WFBSC) and we have had a rich history with the organisation since it was formed."
Here in the US there seems to be a shift in the interest of a BSC as to the ROI of an association and the associations are seeing the value of partnering.