As your SME senior chapter's membership retention leader, you have been called on to develop strategies and programs to retain members. Your work directly impacts the vitality of your chapter and represents, in most cases, "the face of SME" for renewing SME members.
- Work with the chapter chair-elect to set and/or update member retention strategies and goals.
- Coordinate the membership retention committee.
- Plan and execute yearlong membership retention activities, including renewal letters, recognition events, roster updates and membership upgrades.
- Follow up with members who have not paid their dues to remind them of the value of their membership and encourage them to stay.
- Participate in SME Headquarters-sponsored membership retention programs.
- Assist student members and others to achieve higher grades of membership.
- Help retired or unemployed members in applying for reduced fees.
- Implement member-recognition activities, such as recognizing membership milestone years, technical accomplishments, certifications achieved, life membership, etc.
- Follow basic retention guidelines:
- Encourage participation.
- Remind members of their SME benefits.
- Ensure new members feel welcomed.
- Keep members informed about the Society and its local, national and international activities.
- Recognize efforts and accomplishments of members.
- Collect accurate contact information.
- Help establish loyalty by being loyal! Show your enthusiasm for SME and tell firsthand accounts of how your membership has been a great investment in your career.
- Familiarize yourself with the Volunteer Leaders Toolkit. There you will find an array of helpful tools and "must-know" information.
- Call your chapter's membership consultant whenever you need additional assistance or further information. If you do not know who your membership consultant is or how to reach him/her, contact SME Customer Care.
- Be familiar with the many benefits SME offers its members. SME is the world's leading resource — both people and information — to advance manufacturing knowledge. Learn about member benefits or download the membership flyer.
- Take time to study the SME Governance Document. This information will be helpful because it provides important background information relating to SME membership and covers topics such as membership dues rates, instructions for completing and submitting membership applications, requirements for membership grades and details about how SME issues membership certificates, cards, pins, etc.
Make member loyalty your priority and focus your retention committee's efforts on the task as well. You will do better if you understand the challenges and opportunities you face, for instance, the reasons renewing members renew and the problems/concerns that have been the most difficult to resolve for renewing (or not!) members. Analyze who is not renewing and why by conducting phone or personal interviews, and by conducting research with continuing and departing members; it can help you determine satisfaction and loyalty attributes, and serve to help you create a better membership experience at the local chapter level.
In your retention endeavors, pay particular attention to new members. A member's first year is the most critical time of membership—they often form lasting impressions as to whether or not SME membership meets, exceeds or falls short of their expectations. The following tips may be useful:
- Arrange for prominent members to welcome new members and answer any questions they may have.
- Conduct a new member orientation and explain the advantages of membership, how to use them and how to become involved.
- Extend invitations to participate in upcoming chapter events.
- Consider assigning another member as the new member's "pal."
The stronger your chapter is at handling requests, responding to complaints and generally establishing an effective dialogue between members and the Society, the stronger the value of SME membership will be perceived. Keep service a high priority by:
- Replying to inquiries quickly.
- Periodically surveying member needs.
- Acknowledging member feedback and sending it, when relevant, to SME Customer Care at SME Headquarters.
There is no coincidence that active and involved SME members are happy SME members who renew year after year. Participation gives members a sense of commitment and belonging, so get them involved by:
- Encouraging members to help make flyers or announcements for upcoming chapter events
- Asking them to coordinate meetings or social gatherings
- Assigning members specific duties and tasks at events
Do not doubt the strength of even simple forms of recognition to keep members involved and proud of their involvement. You have many opportunities to recognize members beyond participation in recognition programs implemented by SME Headquarters. Use them!
Members who have been given recognition or an award for their participation will gain a sense of value and feel their membership is valued. Rewarding members can help increase participation, and in addition help seal the relationship with SME by:
- Sending thank you letters to members for participating or helping with a project
- Publicly thanking members for their efforts at meetings or through a chapter e-communication
Do not lose a member because they think SME membership is too expensive for them at the moment. SME has special rate/discount programs for members, and knowing about them may mean the difference between keeping and losing a member. Special dues rates are available for retired members at least 55 years old and for unemployed members. Request them in writing from SME Customer Care or check the Governance Document (PDF).
Upon request, SME Headquarters honors longtime members. Contact SME Customer Care to get certificates or lapel pins that mark pertinent anniversaries of consecutive membership, such as five, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 50 years.