Building Relationships Earns Membership Cup for Florida HBA

Filed in Membership by on September 13, 2018 2 Comments

In 2016, the staff and leadership of the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association began laying plans for their 2017 membership recruitment efforts.

After asking, “What makes Manatee-Sarasota BIA a group worth joining?” the team discovered that people joined not just for the savings and marketing, but to feel like they belong to a family and to do something for the greater good of the industry.

Building relationships, then, was key to not only recruiting, but also retaining new members.

Manatee-Sarasota BIA used that guiding principle to develop a membership recruitment plan for the year. The goal: Make sure every future member knew that their business mattered to HBA leadership and they would be proud to call them a member of the group.

This devotion to cultivating relationships earned Manatee-Sarasota BIA the 2017 NAHB Membership Cup for outstanding effort in membership recruitment. The award was presented at the awards ceremony during the 2018 NAHB Association Management Conference in Long Beach, Calif.

NAHB Chairman Randy Noel (second from left) presents the Membership Cup to the leadership of Manatee-Sarasota BIA.

“The entire MSBIA team is excited and honored to be awarded the Membership Cup from NAHB for 2017,” said BIA president David Langhout. “Many thanks go out to both our members and our incredible staff for achieving such great membership recruitment and retention.”

Soon after the initial meetings to discuss the 2017 membership plan, then-president Bill Smock set a stretch goal to grow the membership to a lofty 600 from the existing 363. Staff knew that they would need a concrete plan to translate relationship-building – a sales tactic with a notoriously long cycle – into hard numbers to hit the goal.

Manatee-Sarasota BIA created a yearlong membership plan rather than focusing on one or two intensive drive efforts. “Recruit and retain” was the battle cry, with relationship building being the tactic. HBA leadership offered incentives to encourage current members to bring prospective members to meetings and events.

By giving away one of the most valuable aspects of an HBA membership – networking – leadership wanted to convey a commitment to truly building a long-lasting relationship with local businesses.

To help identify prospects, the association acquired a list from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and made the emails and phone numbers available to members. They also launched more informal events, like tailgates, to make participation more palatable. This was attractive to not only potential members, but made the year’s retention efforts for present members much easier.

When new members did sign up, they were immediately placed on committees to engage the newcomers in important HBA business from Day 1.

In the end, Manatee-Sarasota BIA saw membership grow in 2017 of more than 35% and an overall retention rate of nearly 80%.

See more about the Membership Cup and the 2017 winners of the Grand Awards at


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Comments (2)

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  1. Kim Jacobs says:

    Is there a link where other associations can go to find the template or plan of the winning associations so that we may use their template/plan for ideas within our own Associations? This article tells some of how they did it, but I was curious about some of the other winners too. Always looking for great ideas and using some of the successes of other Associations to motivate our Association members. Congrats to all the winners!

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