Blowing Up Battleships Leads to Driving More Memberships

Filed in Membership by on September 28, 2018 1 Comment

battleship memberahip gameEvery other month, a small group of volunteers gathers at the Spokane HBA to spend two hours calling members, asking if they need anything – and blowing up battleships.

“I thought, ‘What can take it from the typical call-a-thon to the next level?’,” said Jake Turner, the HBA’s membership director. The answer: Make it competitive, make it fun and turn it into a game that involves destroying things.

Turner gathers a dozen volunteers for each two-hour session, arms them with fact sheets on the HBA’s three priorities (for 2018, it’s workforce development, advocacy and networking) and gives them the call lists.

Volunteers call new members to thank them for joining, let them know about upcoming events, and offer tips about getting the most out of their new association. battleship gameMany of the long-time members will get a call as well.

“Sometimes you need to just call them and say thank you, and often times they’ll ask, ‘Well, what’s going on?’” Turner said. The callers, of course, are prepared with their notes right in front of them to answer those questions.

Turner invites a mix of seasoned members and newbies to help make the calls – on the chance that the low-pressure activity may parlay the first- and second-year members “out of the kiddie pool and into the deep end” of association involvement, and also identify potential candidates for association leadership.

Making Things Interesting

The callers are divided into two teams. Every time a caller connects with a member, the caller gets a BOOM sticker to paste on one of the battleship cut-outs. The last sticker “sinks” the battleship and the caller gets to claim a prize: $5 in “SHBA bucks” to use toward the next HBA event.

Earlier this month, the HBA pitched a “battle of the sexes” with women on one call team and men on the other.

“The women won, of course,” Turner noted. “They now get a table at the Fall Festival of Homes kickoff night. And the boys have to serve them their first two drinks.”

For the HBA the cost of the prizes, food and drink of the callers and other expenses amount to money well spent. “You might spend 150 bucks, but you have 100 people in your HBA who are now better connected,” Turner said.

After it’s over, the HBA staff goes through the callers’ notes to see who wants to sponsor an upcoming home show or who’s looking for framers or plumbers – and more connections are made.

Turner isn’t sure if the HBA will ever return to its pre-recession highs of 1,400 members, but he’s convinced that events like these help ensure that the members the HBA does have are well taken care of. The goal, he said, is not a numbers game, but to make HBA membership a mark of professionalism to the public.

“We’re more focused on bringing in the right members,” he said. “We want our HBA emblem to be a sign of prestige.”

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  1. Jake H Turner says:

    We at the Spokane home builders Association really enjoyed doing these Battleship games. Thank you, NAHB for reaching out and letting me share this with everybody else in the Federation. I do really enjoy sharing ideas with another HBA’s so, please, if you have any ideas on how this can be done better and/or how we did it, I would love to share it with you and hear your thoughts. My email is

    Cheers, to the growth, and strength of our HBA’S!

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