Every industry has a trade association. If you had a directory of associations you might find it interesting to find things like: The At-sea Processors Association for fishing b oats t hat process their catch while at sea. Or there’s the Correspondence Chess League of America for chess enthusiasts and tournament participants. Or how about the National BBQ & Grilling Association (which I’m a member of)?
The essence of a trade association is to help its members, the people in that industry, find ways to improve their business, their trade or their craft. Most associations, like ATRA, are national. As well intended as a trade association may be in providing business services to its members it’s impossible to provide the variations and nuances needed on a local basis. That’s where the chapter comes in.
A chapter of an association has a natural gift for working on problems and solutions that are central to a region because all the members are from that area and share the same problems, work on the same vehicle types and deal with similar business constraints.
Meeting with the local ATRA chapter was a vital and necessary part of doing business for many years. Chapter members would generally meet a few times a year to discuss business trends, new ideas or even technical matters. Another function of the ATRA chapter was to host the local technical seminar. The Chapter would help to locate seminar locations and reach out to the local shops to make sure they attended and could stay informed on the latest technical information.
The function of a chapter hasn’t changed much but how a chapter functions and communicates with the shops it has in the area. Now, rather than meeting strictly on a personal, face-to-face setting, social media and virtual meetings are becoming more popular.
Maybe it’s been a long time since you’ve been to a chapter function or, perhaps you didn’t even know there was a chapter in your area so you’re asking “What’s in it for me to belong to my local chapter?”
Here are a few thoughts:
- Being part of a chapter means you don’t have to face business problems alone; there are many other shop owners facing the same issues and are happy to share their solutions.
- Recruit the best and brightest: So far, ATRA has brought the VTS program into 35 technical schools and training centers. As hard as these schools might work they don’t have the resources to teach their students on many of the transmissions shops are seeing today. ATRA’s VTS program is filling in the gaps and the schools love it. Want to guess who gets first access to the next generation of technicians?
- Many shop owners have felt so isolated and on their own that when it comes time to retire they simply close their doors because they can’t find someone to buy their shop. A network of like-minded individuals might just have a better answer for you. This is a complicated issue and I’m not suggesting that being part of a chapter is the solution but you surely won’t accomplish a working exit strategy working as an island. Become part of your chapter.
- Of course seminars are an important part of the mix and something worth being part of. Not to mention, seminars help to fund chapters. Those funds can be used for a range of other functions and I’ll leave that for your imagination.
The map shows the areas for each chapter along with seminar cities and you’ll notice some areas aren’t represented. You can change that. You can also go to Members.atra.com/ chapters to find out more about the chapter in your area.
Over the next couple of months I’ll share some other thoughts and ideas regarding chapters. I can tell you’re getting excited about this… So am I.