Focusing on Membership Recruitment

May 3, 2019
By Michael Copp, Executive Vice President

As the PHCC National team wraps up its budget development process for 2019/20, clearly membership recruitment and retention need to be a primary focus for the next fiscal year.  While it’s been a major focus area within the PHCC strategic plan, the federation is not growing sufficiently to replenish members who’ve left, in addition to recruiting new members.  So how do we stack up overall?  PHCC National saw an 83% retention rate as compared to “85% for trade associations, and member organizations enjoy a 76% retention rate.”  (Retrieved on the World Wide Web on April 22, 2019 here.) According to Membership Marketing Partners in their article, “5 Ways to Increase Association Membership Recruitment and Retention,” association members typically do not renew because:

  • 37% don’t renew because an employer stops paying for their membership. “These members may have found your association valuable, but not valuable enough to pay for it personally.”
  • 33% left the field. “Unfortunately, not much can be done to change this.”
  • 49% aren’t engaging enough with the organization. “You can change this. To prevent this lack of engagement, communicate often and provide services members will want to utilize.”

The article outlines five tips for retaining and recruiting members that include:

  1. Provide Sought-After Benefits- “[and] throughout your forms of communication – from your emails to your website – emphasize what you provide that no other organization can.”
  2. Encourage Current Members to Recruit New Members- “Offering referral programs and member drives can be great ways to convince current members to recruit new members [and think about attractive incentives].”
  3. Ask for Feedback- “Feedback is also especially valuable from new members; they’re the ones most at risk for non-renewal. Consider a loyalty assessment to determine your new members’ feelings about the association.”
  4. Get personal- “Offering a personalized experience is another great way to keep current members engaged. Just consider the statistic that emails are 22.2% more likely to be opened with a personalized subject line. Using the member’s first name in both the subject line and body of the email will make the member more likely to pay attention to it.”
  5. Promote Renewal Early- “Set up reminders early and frequently, pointing out the benefits they’ll miss out on if they allow their membership to lapse. Preventing lapses in renewals entirely will greatly improve your retention rate.”

As we embark on new ways to recruit members, PHCC’s industry partners can be strong allies. Our industry sponsors are very proud of their association with PHCC and truly believe in our collective mission.  Many of them indicate that when they are in contact with non-member contractors through their rep network, they would have ideal opportunities to share co-branded collateral that talks about their association and success with PHCC– with instructions about how to join.  Additionally, as we consider that the PHCC leadership has observed that not everyone is aware of the various benefits across the federation, a “bundle” of offerings that could be presented to members and prospects would be seen as having great value to the contractor.

As I wrote in April 2017, “there is a need for greater clarity about what each level offers and recognition that all levels of the Federation have a shared responsibility for communicating value of membership at all three levels.’”  Some stratified examples of PHCC offerings are shown below: (not a complete list)

Local State National

Support the organization’s mission - advancement and education of the plumbing and HVACR industry for the health, safety, and comfort of society and the protection of the environment

Networking and events State Convention National Convention
Education Education Professional Development- economies of scale
Community Service Apprentice Programs

National advocacy/legislators - “Day on Capitol Hill”
Product information/education/ sharing best practices Legislative – “Day at the State Capitol” Manufacturer involvement
Apprentice programs Health/business insurance Publications
Workforce promotions Manufacturer/Wholesaler support Networking
Industry relationships State plumbing boards Affinity discounts
Newsletter Licensing/CEU Corporate access
Promoting trades Code input/development
Affinity discounts National representation with other trade groups
Publications Online library of resources
Assisting local associations by sharing best practices of “high performing” locals Workforce initiatives
Assisting local and state associations in developing and supporting apprentice programs
Identifying the best practices of “high performing” state/locals
Increasing the value of belonging to local associations
Leadership development for local and state associations
Promoting licensing/CEUs in states
Developing products and services that will generate income for state and local associations.
Providing local and state associations with turnkey business management educational seminars for contractors and their employees

So, our job is to not only to communicate what we collectively offer, but also show our members (and prospective members) how to access and use the resources to help address their specific professional and business needs.  Below is a partial list of specific resources that I think illustrate the “tangible” value of PHCC membership.

I Need To... Find It Here...
Attract, hire and retain skilled workers.

Participate in educational programs.
Improve my business management knowledge and skills.

Learn more about specific government affairs and legislative efforts.
Access my PHCC benefits and resources in one place.
Learn about the latest PHCC and industry news.

Connect directly with PHCC chapters in my area.
Find national and local events that cater
to my business.
Cut expenses with PHCC discounts.
Grow and increase my service and repair business.
Get help for a new construction company of my size.
Get help for union contractors like me.
Get technical help with a code question.
Find HVAC resources.
Find plumbing resources.

As I wrote in February of 2016, “PHCC’s membership should reflect the demographics of the current available workforce if it wants to recruit and retain members. That requires that PHCC attract a diverse membership through efforts like:

  • Offering courses in various languages.
  • Actively recruiting women and minorities.
  • Creating young professional groups that are diverse and discuss opportunities and challenges that are important to them.
  • Developing a local summit to talk about strategies for reaching out and connecting with a broader group of potential members in each state.”

So, the PHCC’s role is to influence, facilitate, educate, and advocate in helping all members within the PHCC Federation thrive.  But these efforts are but a means to an end.  All three levels of the Federation must be equally engaged in those efforts to ultimately “[protect] against injury to the trade” as was the primary purpose when this great institution was first established in 1883.  Members may participate, but a movement drives progress.

A list of benefits from PHCC National can be found here. If you’d like to learn more about PHCC benefits, please email us at or call (800)533-7694.


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