Pros & Cons of Club Memberships
Contributed by Larry Beach, Director of Team Shelby South Atlantic Region
There has been a lot going on in the last week that has ruffled a few feathers and most of it is driven by trying to add value paying memberships. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here: Right now, there isn’t much of a benefit to being an official paying member. Sure you get a free t-shirt, magazine, travel mug and a key ring. Most people I’ve talked to just throw the trinkets in a drawer, thumb through the magazine and forget about the membership for the rest of the year. For some, the swag is benefit enough, for others it’s the community and friendships they have forged. For others, they want more before they are willing to join.
Most of the club forums are provided for free. The Facebook pages are free. When we invite people out to your events, we allow non-members to join us. So what’s the point of being a paid member? Just like the old saying goes, “why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?” For the most part, I can’t argue with that logic.
The problem with this is what do we do for the paying members? Shouldn’t there be exclusive benefits to being a member? Logic seems to dictate that there should. However, it seems when we try to give exclusive benefits to those who pay for their membership, the nonmembers cry foul and accuse the club of being an elitist group. How can a club be an elitist group when most of what they do is free? Perhaps the club has been doing so much for free that it’s now taken for granted.
As a state director of a National club, I get to participate in the biweekly status conference calls. Nearly every call, our club president brings up membership and wants to find new benefits for members. For me, the benefit of being a part of a community created by a legend himself is enough for me to continue to be a member and serve as a state director. The love for the cars, performance, and friendships I have made is worth the cost of the membership fee. A lot of people feel the same way I do. Hopefully we can continue to build on that outlook on being a member and convince more people to join.
For those who have a “What’s in it for me” thought process, which I completely respect, I have been trying to think outside the box and tie some local benefits to the membership, such as discounts at Rock and Brews and Lamotta Performance. I still have more in the works and am open to suggestions. However I have still heard that it’s not fair to the non-members.
Will the things I'm doing be enough for some folks to decide to join? Will I be accused of having an elitist attitude because I want to do things for those that actually pay of a membership? Time will always tell. I do however, suspect some may never join as long as they can get what they want for free and that is disappointing.