(I wrote this article for the District 5950 District Governor's newsletter, which was published today)
I know you are busy and you want to use your time well. So this month, don’t think about launching a major project to grow members. Instead, create an ongoing routine that brings in qualified new member candidates, while creating a simple, welcoming experience that is good for both you and your members.
Here are three simple ways to grow membership:
1. Fill the funnel with qualified candidates. There is no way around it. If you do not have a continuous stream of potential new members visiting your club and exploring membership, your chances of growth are slim. Even if you have been growing recently, national statistics show that nearly 10 percent members turn over each year simply because of relocation, change in job schedule or other reasons outside of your control. How do you make sure you have a funnel? Publish it to your members regularly. Show a graph of your membership goals and results year to date. Create a monthly guest day, with a special speaker and where guests will not be alone. Just find something that might work and try it.
2. Create a clear path for new members. How would you feel if you were asked to take a journey into the wilderness with no map, GPS or compass? Unless you love adventure, you would probably say, "No thanks." So make it clear to new members what the new member application and approval process looks like, what the expectations are for their time and money and who will help the new member get comfortable in your club. When we look back at surveys of club leaders who participated in the club visioning process, we found that only 9 percent of club leaders strongly agree that their club consistently provides an orientation for new members. Try walking through your new member process through the non-member’s eyes. What would you change?
3. Don’t behave like you are desperate! When salespeople do not care about relationships with customers, they try to close the business right away. Think of telemarketers at dinner time and you know what I mean! In Rotary, you are asking prospective members to make a potential lifetime commitment. Take the time to ask questions, learn about their interests and understand what areas of service they are really passionate about. After you have confirmed that your club is a good fit, review the joining process and ask them to take the next steps. That may take several conversations, so be patient and stop selling. Let them buy.
Remember, membership success is not a task, it is an ongoing process. Find and invite qualified guests, create a great new member experience, and help them find their place in Rotary.