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Membership: “What’s In It For Me?”

A stronger staff! That is the simple answer. Some of my best friends have never been members of MHEDA, recently dropped their membership during the downturn, or are members but not active. This article is written for them and everyone else out there in our industry who fails to see the unbelievable value MHEDA membership offers—value that grows every year. A better company with better people driving better performance is “what’s in it for you.”

I am nearing the end of my run of Board service, a run that included a stint in 2009 as MHEDA’s 55th President. The MHEDA Board works hard for members, successfully improving the education and networking available every year, but not very successfully communicating the value. It’s not like we haven’t tried in print, email and on the Web. You must be believed to be heard, as the adage goes, so this column is intended to make believers out of at least a few of you. By the way, there is no hidden agenda or reward for me other than wanting to raise the professionalism of all my friends’ firms.

MHEDA TV

Need more evidence of the value of MHEDA? See what your fellow distributor and supplier members have to say in a series of videos about the Value of Convention, the Value of  Networking, the Value of MHEDA Education and the Value of Membership at www.youtube.com/MaterialHandlingTV.  

Gary Moore, a Superman in our industry (an acknowledgement to one of his presentation ploys), prepared a 20-minute webinar for all new members entitled, “Leverage Your MHEDA Membership.” You can get to it under the Membership tab at www.mheda.org. Pretend you are a new member again, discovering the richness of offerings your new membership brings with it. Take notes, think about who could use the information, and then require that they do so.

You Must Lead the Way
Current membership must lead the way. Study MHEDA’s website or assign one of your bright on-the-rise managers to do so. Research it and make a list of the programs and education that just might help make you better. Here are some examples of questions I have been asked in recent months for which MHEDA membership provides the answers…

As we add back staff, really talented people new to our industry are being considered. How do you tell them what we do? Go to the Careers tab and pull down the “About the Industry” video that was recently updated. Jobs are changing and becoming more flexible. Do you need help describing a position? Also under Careers is a tab for job descriptions. More important, I have been asked what a job should pay. Go to Resources. There is the tab for the 2010 Employee Compensation Report completed by almost 40 percent of MHEDA membership.

Three of my friends attended Convention and did not see the value. Maybe not as 40-year industry veterans, but all that knowledge they have been accumulating does not exist in the heads of all those Gen Xers that are taking leadership positions today in their companies. Gen Xers are loners and will look for help by themselves, usually on the Web, and not ask it of their elders. You better make it available and not lose a generation’s worth of industry intelligence. MHEDA can be the link with its varied and complete communication paths.

At another meeting, a current member was extolling the value of the Telephone Doctor customer service training. I asked if he felt it was well worth the several grand he spent. “Absolutely!” was the response. I then showed him the link under Education and Online Training to the Telephone Doctor’s six hours of free customer service training. He was a bit surprised.

As dealer principals, we love attending brand meetings and other small groups to network and share ideas. A club emerges out of the meetings that creates a bond of friendship for life and, at the same time, markedly improves our businesses. How can we be so blind to this power of networking to think it is only for us? MHEDANET has over 20 groups, each with six to ten members talking over the phone for an hour once a month or once a quarter. Your people know what to say and what not to say. Trust them to do so, but give them the opportunity to see that others are experiencing their pain and just might have the solution to remove it.

“Cheaper Than a Round of Drinks”
By the way, the key aspect of all the items listed above is the word “free.” All the mentioned programs are free with your membership and worth far more than your dues, whether those are $500 or $5,000. The Education Calendar has morphed from a handful of items to over 30 sessions delivered both online and live. They cover a range of topics for just about any position in your firm. Sure, there is a fee for some, but think about a webinar series you attend with a dozen others during a lunch and learn. You get everyone on the same page and share some quality time for less than $10 a head. That’s cheaper than a round of drinks and lasts longer.

This doesn’t even include all the great value added from our publications: the quarterly print magazine, The MHEDA Journal and its associated website at www.TheMhedaJournal.org that features frequently updated content; the semi-monthly e-newsletter, The MHEDA Connection; and wikiMHEDA, the top online resource for terms and concepts related to our industry.

Okay, it is time to get off the soapbox. My intention was to get your attention, something I have been trying to do for years—hopefully, this missive will work. I will leave you with two suggestions. First, go to the association’s home page at www.mheda.org. Scroll down, just looking at the items listed on the left side. Can you believe all the stuff available to all the different departments and roles in your company? There is something for everyone, no matter their age.

Second, assign one of your sharp, young managers to thoroughly tour the site and make a list of the offerings with assignments for others on your staff to complete. A month later, bring some of them in and ask them if there is value. Once you complete this exercise, ask yourself of MHEDA, “What’s in it for me?” I think you will find the answer to be a stronger staff, and the value of your MHEDA membership will be brighter than a neon sign. Guys, I will be calling.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association
Duncan Murphy Meet the Author
2009 MHEDA President Duncan Murphy is president of Riekes Equipment Company located in Omaha, Nebraska, and on the Web at www.riekesequipment.com.

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