To Membership Recruitment
Where do we find them,
and how do we keep them?
Regional clubs have historically been
the best way for the Appaloosa Horse Club
to stay in touch with Appaloosa owners
at the local level. Over the years, the
purpose and general make up of regional
clubs has changed dramatically. Of the
many changes, one has been a decrease
in membership. This has forced many regional
clubs to change their focus. What follows
is a guide to help you and your regional
club seek out new members and to keep
them interested and involved.
What is a regional club?
In the precise sense, a regional club
is an officially recognized group of 50
or more people who, as enthusiasts of
the Appaloosa horse, have joined together
to incorporate an organization with the
specifically stated "purpose"
and intent: "To cooperate with and
aid in every way possible the programs
and functions of the ApHC." The ApHC
is a national organization whose stated
mission is "Dedication to preserving,
improving, promoting and enhancing the
breed known as the Appaloosa." It
is on the basis of its stated "purpose"
that a regional club is granted its charter
by the ApHC.
In actuality, a regional club can be many
-promoter of ApHC-approved horse shows,
-developer of ApHC-approved races,
-sponsor of ApHC-approved trail rides,
-sponsor of, or promoter of participation
in events not approved by the ApHC which
and endurance rides
clinics and other educational programs,
-group of Appaloosa breeders,
-political action group, promoter
of the Appaloosa horse,
-all of the above and more.
mission statement is a very important aspect
of your charter. Every club should take
care in defining their mission statement.
There were reasons for establishing the
club, and that should be a great portion
of your statement. Once your mission statement
is written, you need to educate your members
as to what the mission of the club is. Any
prospective member should be able to ask
for and receive a standard answer from your
The next question you need to ask is, what
are the goals of our club? You should set
both short term and long term goals. To
aid in achieving your goals, it may be helpful
to form a Planning Committee.
With no publicly stated mission and no defined
goals, your club is like a ship without
a captain or a rudder. It leaves the dock
with no destination in mind and then putts
about aimlessly, ending up wherever the
wind and tides take it.
When establishing your mission and goals,
keep in mind the railroads. Had their management
thought of themselves as being in the transportation
business rather than in the railroad industry,
they would today control trucking and airlines.
Their narrow vision of what they were all
about nearly killed their industry and took
them from a position of leadership to last
place in transportation. They were unable
or unwilling to take a franchise into the
future and follow the trend. Instead, they
insisted on their way being the best way
and they struggled vainly to regain their
past. Is yours an Appaloosa Horse Show Club
or is it defined in a much broader sense
to include all types of horse enthusiasts
with an emphasis on the Appaloosa?
What does your club offer members?
Assuming we all know what our purpose for
joining together is, we need to take a very
objective look at our organization and take
an inventory of various aspects.
you perceived by your potential customers?
your customers and why?
is your potential prospecting pool?
Keep in mind
that no more than 20-25% of all horse owners
are involved in showing, and only 20-25%
of those people are involved in breed shows.
Therefore on the average in a group of 100
owners, 22 show and only 11 of those go
to breed shows. This means any organization
that limits itself to serving only the breed
show segment is writing off 89% of the available
It is imperative in this inventory to ask
yourself how limited your appeal is. Who
may you be leaving out? Think of a program
that would interest a wide variety of people.
The ApHC has lost people in the past by
not catering to the Sport Horse, the Pleasure
Horse, the Games Horse, etc. The beginning
of the end for any group can be seen in
the fragmentation of interests not being
You must then look at how membership in
your club will generally benefit someone.
This will include both tangible and intangible
benefits. Take an inventory of specific
potential benefits to your members and make
a list of what you want your club to offer.
new and grow intellectually
received as a member
of activities offered for children and
you may receive, etc.
With all of
this in mind, review your dues structure
in relation to the value the club offers
and adjust where necessary. If all your
members show horses, why do you charge extra
to sign up horses for points? Do the dues
charged cover the costs of the membership
benefits? Does your newsletter pay for itself?
These are just a sampling of questions you
will want to consider.
How do you market your club?
Now that you know what you offer and how
much youíll charge for it, you need to target
your marketing efforts. If you offer more
than just a breed show or two a year, your
recruiting information must tell people
what it is you offer and the benefits they
will derive. You must look at every possible
method to advertise your existence to the
individuals you feel would be most likely
to "buy" your product.
in local businesses
house or barn
at local events
for current members to bring in new
stickers or other advertising specialties
a local youth group
of how you market yourself, you must have
a plan. You cannot rely on people learning
about you by chance. Word of mouth does
not work! Set specific goals and objectives
and define how you will get there. Successful
clubs donít wait for people to find them.
They market themselves aggressively and
actively seek new opportunities.
How do we
The most important thing you need to do
to retain your membership is to pay attention
to them. Send them a welcome letter when
they first join the club and possibly include
a new member packet with names and numbers
of other club members. Make sure they are
well aware of what is coming up next, and
invite them to join in. Old members and
new members alike appreciate the small tokens
as much as the big ones. Solicit their opinions
and suggestions and include them in the
decision making. The fastest way to lose
members is to make executive decisions without
informing everyone else. Not only include
what peopleís accomplishments are with their
horses in your newsletter, but it might
be nice to include other information as
well. Human interest tidbits go a long way.
If you have a member that has a special
skill or who might be in a profession which
would be helpful to your club, ask them
for their assistance. Capitalize on peopleís
need to feel as though they are wanted and
we better service our customers?
The largest complaint from regional clubs
is that members donít attend meetings. Well,
the first thing you must look at is, are
our meetings worthwhile? Hold meetings for
the general membership that are informational
and donít deal with specific management
problems or decisions. You need to avoid
negative debate. Invite guest speakers or
have videos showing some new topic or activity.
Hold meetings at convenient times in convenient
locations, not just whatís convenient for
the person setting up the meetings. If it
is at all possible, you might rotate the
locations of your meetings to give more
people the opportunity to attend.
When you set up your different committees,
there should be a mix of old and new members
to stimulate ideas. If people donít readily
volunteer to be on a committee, ask them
to participate. The worst that can happen
is that they say no. When people come to
the table with new suggestions, itís best
to analyze the idea. Discuss what is good
about the idea, and then maybe discuss what
could be changed. The final and best outcome
of most ideas are not what was initially
brought forward. However, the fastest way
to kill someoneís initiative or creativity
is to review and vote on every little detail.
Let the ideas flow and let the discussion
take a natural course.
Once you have formed your committees and
they are working at capacity, formally recognize
the contributions of those members. Provide
them with some type of special recognition.
This could be as simple as announcing a
thank you at your next event.
It is important to keep your leadership
fresh. It might sound impressive to say
that you have been the President of such
and such club for 10 years, but this makes
it easy for your club to become stagnant.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with change.
In fact, change is necessary to keep up
with the latest trends and constant flux
of the industry. Stagger terms of directors
and limit those terms. Make sure that new
officers are privy to what is currently
in the works when positions do change hands.
Donít let one disgruntled member be the
downfall of your club. Remember that you
canít please everyone, but by including
as many people as possible in the operations
of your club, you will have the best chance
you know the doís, here are the final don't
your clubís condition as being a result
of outside forces. "When a man
points a finger at someone else, he
should remember that three of his fingers
are pointing at himself."
negativism by tolerating it or being
a part of it. People wonít join an organization
whose members are constantly complaining
and appear to be unhappy.
the old way is the best way. If you
are trying to recapture the excitement
of the years when the Appaloosa was
on the rise, then your organization
has to create excitement that is appealing
to the Appaloosa owner of today.
your club to be run for the sole enjoyment
of, or to serve the personal agenda
of, any one person or small group of
individuals. Run it for all of the membership.
your horizons. Expand the organizationís
thinking power by including everyone.
your club to be around forever if your
members are not willing to contribute
to itís future. A clubís success is
not measured by itís leaders doing extraordinary
things, but by itís members doing ordinary
that you are in competition for a partial
share of discretionary income that is
available for recreation. Horse ownership
is expensive and owners spend the most
when they are having fun.
the things you like as being the same
things other people do. Test your ideas
on a wide variety of people.
accept anything that is not targeted
for excellence. If you are going to
do something, do it right.
the words a Greek philosopher uttered
around 500 B.C., "There is nothing
permanent except change."