December 15, 2009
A survey by LO’s newest committee has revealed five goals to increase membership and improve recruitment. The online survey saw 178 members respond to questions concerning membership benefits, marketing and communication.

The Membership Recruitment and Retention Committee has identified five goals, which include:
  • Chapter meetings need to be reinvented to become more relevant, better marketed and therefore better attended, which in turn increases networking opportunities.
  • Investigate the local endorsed supplier concept.
  • Promote LO boldly at all events (Canada Blooms, trade shows, training, etc.).
  • Members understand brand, but consumers not yet aware of the benefits of LO members. It’s not self-evident.
  • Develop recruitment using supplier, head office and chapters first, before extending to members and consumers.

The top three reasons for being a member of LO, given by those taking the survey, were having a voice, education/publications and networking. Those areas listed as requiring more work are chapter meetings and supplier benefits.

Results from the survey showed the top three endorsed suppliers are Esso, GM and Petro Canada. Reasons listed for the lack of use by members of some suppliers, included lack of relevance and poor marketing. The committee also noted a 2006 survey which outlined missing suppliers in the areas of office supplies, propane, nursery supplies, pension and clothing.

Survey results showed that chapter meetings are the best way to network for the local value with importance given to regular frequency of the meetings. One of the recommendations to encourage new members to attend chapter meetings was through personal invitations. It was felt that the current marketing program is not effective. Another issue with the chapter meetings was the lack of relevance to members. The committee noted it is the same program year after year, hence decrease of attendance over time.

A surprising result from the survey was the fact that nearly one-third of members of LO for greater than two years, believe non-members receive the same benefits, and that members who have been in LO for years are not seeing the benefits. The committee recommends that LO needs to always articulate the value/differential of being a member.

A question in the survey to determine the favourite mode of communication by LO members, show the publications still ranked at the top. Horticulture Review was used by over 80 per cent of the membership, while Landscape Trades saw well over 70 per cent use. Other methods used were the websites and LO This Week. It was felt by the committee that the website is used by newer (younger) members. Other potential networking techniques suggested by the committee were Twitter and Facebook. It was felt that these would become more important in the future among younger members.

On the issue of logo use, survey results showed that 40 per cent of older members are not using the logo, while the use of the tree logo and girl on the swing logo was close to 50/50.  Survey participants felt that the top three messages given by the logo were professionalism, sense of belonging and green.  An interesting comment highlighted by the committee stated, “Amongst my peers, it (logo) identifies me as a member and supporter of my industry association.” Negative comments about the logo concerned the lack of consumer understanding of the logo.

Members of the committee include, Warren Patterson, chair, Hank Gelderman CHT, Brian Lofgren, Bruce Morton CIT, CLP, Frans Peters, Michael Van Dongen, David Wright, and staff members, Tony DiGiovanni CHT, Kristen McIntyre CHT and Stephanie Smith.