Getting staff involved in regularly fostering and sustaining member connections helps boost engagement and retention.
Giving members a feeling of belonging cannot always be achieved or quantified through onboarding or surveys. Sometimes it takes a more direct and consistent approach. FMI, The Food Industry Association, developed the “My FMI” program to make sure a staff member is in touch with member companies throughout the year.
How Does It Work?
When a member is quiet, Dan Ratner, senior director of member services at FMI, says he starts worrying. “If we haven’t heard from a company or we haven’t done anything to connect with them, then it’s most likely they’re at risk for leaving,” he says.
To keep the conversation going, FMI assigns staff as account managers for member companies based on existing relationships they have as subject matter experts, in advocacy, or other capacities. It is their job to check in on those member companies throughout the year to ask what they need, engage with them, and then circle back with the membership team.
Why Is It Effective?
A lot of organizations rely on their board to provide feedback about what’s going on with members, but you can’t rely on the board entirely. “We have to make that connection,” Ratner says. “You have to do the work to actually get them engaged.”
The personal connections pay off. “Right now, we only have a handful of members that have yet to pay their dues for the year,” he says.
What Is the Benefit?
Ratner and his team know what is happening with members, which can’t always be gleaned from quantitative or qualitative surveys. It also gives them a real-time gauge on where members are.
“We’re not going to sit back and wait to see what our retention rate is,” he says. By the time renewals come around, they will already have a good idea of who is going to renew or not.
Members like the one-on-one connection and having an assigned go-to person. The program also reinforces a principle of retention, which Ratner says is everyone’s responsibility. “It’s a way for everyone on staff to realize they have a stake in this,” he says.
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