In my eyes, all associations have value. The only difference is, that perception changes from individual to individual. Because of that it can be difficult to choose the right association for your business. So here, I will try and walk you through it.
Firstly, there are two differences of mind set between window cleaners ( this goes for pressure washing, soft washing etc too). Those that see value in associations and those that do not. Those that do not, need read no further. Those that do, let me tell you… you are switched on. Joining an association ( the right type of association for you ) is part of building a successful business and I will tell you why later.
There are two columns when it comes to choosing the right association. In column 1 is the association that is profit driven, in column 2 is the ‘not for profit’ association ( this includes associations that drive surplus cash back in).
Column one. Can provide all the information you need and provide the tools required for growing a successful business, they will also heavily sell you products and generally the association is treated like a business. There will be little in the way of safety training and they will have no connection at Government level. In short, you will not have a voice in the industry. They only fight the corner of its members if at all and not the industry as a whole whether you are a member or not. Column 1 associations will have a business owner or will be supported by vendors or backed by supply houses in order to drive their sales.
I stress, this is not a bad column list, there is huge value in this. Such associations are full of like minded people that gather at annual events, take the business building classes and get great deals on products. Membership to this column may not provide any points required for Government tenders, Hospitals and other authority contracts (UK). As a business support org, column 1 is a great choice!
Column two. If you are in column 1, then it would be nuts for you not to be in column 2. Thats right – you CAN join as many associations as you wish. How many Facebook Groups are you in? lol ( ok, I know they are free, but you get my point)
Column 2 consists of associations that strive to improve the industry for all window cleaners whether you are a member or not. By being a member of column 2 associations you have a say in the processes that shape your industry, that affect your business activities. Column 1 associations are not interested in that and do not have that interaction. Column 2 associations will have a Board and will act as an employers association. All members have a part to play should they wish.
Column 2 also provides most of the things as column 1, but not for a profit and health & safety is usually the driving force – Safety over dollars/pounds puts your business ahead of the game. Get Health & Safety wrong – and that could be BAD for your business. Most importantly, column 2 has Government contacts and interactions. They work closely with the Government or HSE/OSHA on issues that face our industry. This gives you a voice. Benefits and discounts? Yeah, you still get your 25p off a piece of squeegee rubber but also it may give you 5 points on a tender (UK). 5 points can be the difference between getting a huge contract or not.
NOW let’s look at what your customers think about your choice of association?
Building owners, managers, FM companies that hire your services have responsibilities enshrined in law. Mostly to do with Health & Safety, remember Column 1 associations lack this. They have to deal with Government regulations every day (HSE/OSHA, for example)
They’re not stupid, they know which associations are influential at Government level.
Which column will they be looking for? The one you joined, that has an industry voice, that liaises with Government agencies and has H&S as a driving force or the one you joined to get some help on selling your services, collecting templates and getting 5% off your squeegee rubber. I tell you it’s not Column 1.
So you see,if you like all the bright colours and noises from the column 1 associations, you now can see the real substance of column 2 which sometimes can come across as less bright and little more quiet. These associations know they have to do more to reach out to people. They have to get louder and brighter.
Join both, join 1, join none. It does not matter to me. I know where my window cleaning business will be associated.
Conclusion: Only you can see the value of an association for your business. But only your customers will see the real value in your choice of association for them too.
If you dont care for it, then that is fine. If you do, then depending on your mindset and business needs you will choose what is right for you and what is viewed by your customers as a valuable association or not.