Community Engagement Leads to Huge Membership Growth at Athens Area HBA

Filed in Membership by on December 12, 2018 0 Comments

When Stephanie Johnson came on board in mid-2018 as executive officer at the Athens Area Home Builders Association (AAHBA) in Georgia, she approached the job like running any small business: reassessing bookkeeping, financials, committees, and many other key areas.

But one priority immediately rose to the top of her list. The AAHBA had a large decrease in membership in 2017, resulting in just 68 members. Johnson wanted to grow membership immediately.

“I took the existing membership we had and identified the members we had lost over the last 2 years,” she said. “And I just started contacting them.”

Johnson realized that AAHBA needed a personal touch again. The association revived its newsletter and started local advertising and social media to communicate its brand message and value to the community.

NAHB Executive Officers Council Director Rick Burt presents Stephanie Johnson a complementary registration to the 2019 Association Management Conference.

“Whether they are members or not, I have been sending people the newsletter for the last 6 months,” Johnson noted. “I want everyone to see what they’re missing.”

Johnson did not have time to organize a structured membership drive this year. So she decided to shake up existing events to better align with the community. An annual Associates appreciation barbeque became a tailgate in this rabid college football town.

“We had the University of Georgia cheerleaders and The Varsity hot dog wagon came out,” she said. “Folks came who were not our members, as well as old members. We changed it up so the Builders were celebrating our Associates. We got to recognize them and say thank you for their support.”

Johnson says it is important for people in the community to see you recognizing individuals or companies.

“We’re going to move to a digital magazine to replace the newsletter and sell ad space,” she explains. “This will give AAHBA and members an opportunity to spotlight other members or partner companies.”

Johnson and the AAHBA have grown membership by 101% just this year and have 137 members as of the end of October.

In the next year, Johnson will help the AAHBA increase its volunteer base to run organized events and membership drives. The also group plans to update its by-laws and re-institute the committees. Johnson wants to help members find their niche and find a new identity for the AAHBA.

Johnson’s advice to other HBAs looking to grow in their community: “Figure out how your association fits into your market.”

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