March 2006 -- I recently received a phone call from a friend of mine who posed a very interesting question to me. This tennis professional is someone who is accomplished in the tennis industry and someone for whom I have a great deal of respect. The question was, “I am considering not renewing my USPTA annual dues this year and am wondering, why should I renew my membership when I already have a solid education and a good job, and I receive all of my personal tennis equipment from another tennis manufacturer?”
This question really hit home with me, because I view this person as an industry leader and was surprised that this tennis professional would consider not renewing. As I analyzed and searched for reasons, the main rationale I kept coming up with is the perception of USPTA membership value. I am sure that this same question has been in the minds of more than one tennis professional, so my quandary was to objectively respond to this question and demonstrate the significance of being a member of the USPTA.
Therefore, the remainder of this article will deal with relative answers to the question, USPTA Membership – Is it really worth the renewal?
The USPTA is a nonprofit trade organization and as such, there are commonalities with nonprofit trade organizations around the country. Author Alan J. Zell’s 2002 publication, Ambassador of Selling
, gives the following reasons for belonging to an industry trade organization:
a. “One hears lots of excuses why people and firms do not want to join professional or trade associations. Some feel that they do not have the necessary time to attend meetings or continuing education while others believe that the association has little to offer.”
b. “These attitudes are not attitudes of successful business people. Successful business people derive maximum use of their memberships. Memberships are seen as “inventory” or assets rather than expenses. Joining and not participating in association activities is passing up opportunities to be better at one’s business. It is tantamount to leaving one’s inventory sitting idle on the back shelf. Idle money does no one any good.”
c. “There are four benefits professional and trade associations offer. Availing oneself of these benefits helps get maximum value for the dollar.”
1. “Local level: Rather than thinking that competitors will discover ‘our/my secret formula,’ a member will learn that others have similar attitudes and problems. An association acts as a forum to bring people together. The purpose is to raise the level of expertise and quality of service for the good of the industry and, more important, for the good of each business’s customers and clients.”
2. “Attending regional and national meetings: Here one can talk about business problems without the fear of letting secrets out of the bag. In some cases, successful business people set regularly scheduled discussions with their counterparts from other cities to discuss problems and ideas without hurting their local advantages. Because there is no threat to one’s business, each is more open to talk about their successes and failures.”
3. “Acting as a watchdog: A trade organization can watch over legislative and regulatory bodies that make laws and rules that could be detrimental to their industry. Most associations have taken on the role of being the eyes and ears of their members.”
4. “Dissemination of pertinent industry information: Most associations have newsletters that keep their membership up-to-date on the latest methods, solutions to problems, products, and services. The money invested in the inventory of trade and professional organization memberships can return much more than the annual investment of dues.”
Each of these points applies to the USPTA membership and our constituency! What else does membership in a trade organization offer?
a. The availability of networking with your peers for both industry knowledge and future job opportunities for yourself or your staff.
b. The demonstration to the public that you support the legal and ethical values of your trade within the industry.
c. The demonstration that you are dedicated to the current trends and developments that occur on a regular basis within the industry.
d. A declaration to your peers that you are committed to the success and growth of your industry.
This alludes to the point of public perception and commitment to industry! Just like any organization or accomplishment, you get more out of something when you put more into it. You cannot always sit on the sidelines and develop a good game. You must get into the game and practice. The definition of a trade association is: individuals or businesses in a specific business or industry organized to promote common interest. The USPTA is a trade organization and that means we represent and promote your
Are there direct benefits of belonging to the USPTA? Of course! I should mention a few membership benefits such as $9 million of on-court liability/bodily injury and property damage insurance while practicing, playing, teaching or officiating tennis for members in the United States, its territories and Canada; a complimentary personal Web site for marketing both yourself and your place of business; and, of course, professionalism. Our uspta.com Web site outlines what we mean by professionalism:
- Professional certification by way of standardized and fair examination procedures
- National publicity and promotion of tennis-teaching professionals
- Professional representation through a unified voice
- Democratic participation in USPTA and industry policy directions
- Organized communications network for tennis-teaching professionals
- Camaraderie and peer contact with the world’s leading professionals through conventions, trade shows, divisional workshops and tournaments
- Morally binding code of ethics to ensure fair industry practices
- Fully staffed World Headquarters for efficient, thorough member service
- Recognition and awards for industry and individual accomplishments at the national and regional levels
- Speaking opportunities at international, divisional and other industry seminars
- Opportunity to become published in ADDvantage magazine and other industry publications
- Some services, activities and fees are tax-deductible.
Sometimes, the perception of a trade association is that it is only good for you when you find that you have a need for it. My experience with this involves a colleague who interviewed for an exclusive country club position with an excellent financial package and high national profile. This person had many tennis industry accolades and qualifications. After receiving notice that the job was awarded to another applicant, this tennis professional called the general manager to find out if there were any weaknesses in his presentation to the search committee. The GM thanked him for his call and told him that he was a finalist for the position, however, the search committee kept bringing up the question, “If this candidate considers himself so qualified, why doesn’t he belong to the largest trade association of teaching professionals?”
The USPTA is
the largest tennis-teaching organization in the world and “we do
make a difference in the tennis industry.” I want to belong to the biggest and the best tennis-teaching association in my field! In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Many of life’s failures are those who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Zell, A. J. (2002). Trade associations: are they for you? Ambassador of Selling. Portland, Oregon. Retrieved on February 10, 2006, from http://www.sellingselling.com/articles/assns.html.