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I saw this article and thought it might be useful to start a conversation about "what is going on" and "what can we do to change this". The article was in RV travel and  gives an interesting perspective. Also read the comments at the end.

https://www.rvtravel.com/fmca-944/  

What do you think? What do you think can be improved and how? 

Bill

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There are a number of "Chicken Littles" out there that are pessimistic about most everything. No matter what you do they will not go away. Yes FMCA is having a rough time now, but so are the Escapees, Camping World and most every restaurant, grocery store, and the list goes on. 

Remember folks THIS IS THE UNITED STATE OF AMERICA, we will survive this. There will be bruises but bruises will heal and so will we. 

I for one am optimistic about the future of FMCA. FMCA is a strong organization with strong leadership.

So now is the time to take advantage of low fuel prices to fill up your Rv, grease up the hitch, check the fifth wheel. When have you had more time than now to tune up everything  so you will be ready to go when parks are open, rallies return and we are able to see old friends again. I can't wait.

Now I will step down from my soap box. I have some wheels to shine.

Herman

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What does all the money go to in all the RV Clubs. I mean, according to the article the loss for FMCA would be $700,000 in revenue. If they were to received $700,000 what would it be used for?

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51 minutes ago, wayne77590 said:

What does all the money go to in all the RV Clubs. I mean, according to the article the loss for FMCA would be $700,000 in revenue. If they were to received $700,000 what would it be used for?

Until ~6 years ago FMCA used to have financial records that were available to the public  The last ones that I ever saw showed a rather substantial headquarters operation and a several million dollar bank balance.   Although I'm sure that some of the HQ staff probably have been trimmed over the years, bureaucracies tend to resist change.  If the organization was unable to refund deposits then it is probably burning cash faster than it is coming in through "normal" channels. Therefore, deposits were probably used as revenue which would not be a good accounting practice to continue.  JMO

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That would be IRS form 990 - N for a non-profit organization.

 

1 hour ago, wayne77590 said:

What does all the money go to in all the RV Clubs. I mean, according to the article the loss for FMCA would be $700,000 in revenue. If they were to received $700,000 what would it be used for?

    That article IMO is wrong,(conjecture) the $700K was funds already spent towards the national conventions, which were advance fees received. Thus no refunds, instead vouchers were issued for future conventions.                

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Economists state that an organization like FMCA should have 2 times the annual operations expense in reserves. While getting closer to that goal, we are not and with current conditions slipping away from that goal. Most members do not know that most deposits for conventions are not refundable. Usually, entertainers will not return anything. We have had some site deposits held over to another year or partially. A couple of entertainers have agreed to come back with some adjustments. Too many members think that the rally registration covers the cost for them to attend. Not true. The vendors and coach displays pay the greatest share. 
Several years ago, the magazine income from advertising covered many other expenses, but the magazine is loosing about $300,000 plus per year. Look how many manufacturers there were ten or so years ago. Many are gone or have merged with other brands. With fewer manufacturers, the result is fewer advertisers which is a loss of income to the magazine. I could go on, but hopefully those members that do not understand the large scope of our operatIon will read and learn. 
 

i think you can find a copy of a proposed budget in the Governing Board book each year. Your National Director should be sharing that information. Also, the minutes of the Governing Board meeting will have the final, revised budget.  If you are a National Director and are not getting that information or if you are not a member of a chapter, request the information from your National Area Vice President. 

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3 hours ago, rossboyer said:

Several years ago, the magazine income from advertising covered many other expenses, but the magazine is loosing about $300,000 plus per year. Look how many manufacturers there were ten or so years ago. Many are gone or have merged with other brands. With fewer manufacturers, the result is fewer advertisers which is a loss of income to the magazine.

Interesting statement. We have opened up the club to all towables. That tells me the management that oversees selling advertising for the magazine needs to do a better job. How many hundred dealers and manufactuers did that add to the potential customer list?

I also think they need to do a much better job of promoting the club. They also need to do a better job promoting the FMCA image to campgrounds. Why don't I see information about FMCA when I am checking into a campground. Why do the majority of them say they have never heard of FMCA? 

Why isn't FMCA making deals with all the major dealers to offer a years free membership to people buying a RV? Why can I get a $600.00+  Thousand Trails membership but not a FMCA membership?

Bill

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Ross made it perfectly clear, FMCA is bleeding cash. Magazine loosing $300,000 per year and membership numbers dropping like a rock certainly doesn't sound promising.

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3 hours ago, elkhartjim said:

Magazine loosing $300,000 per year and membership numbers dropping like a rock certainly doesn't sound promising.

So why continue to have a printed magazine?  That's such an outdated 20th century concept.  The same information can be conveyed digitally without the hassle of having mail forwarded to readers.  Even though there could be less ad revenue in a digital magazine, the costs to produce it would be far less. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

And while we're on the subject of questioning why certain things are the way they are, has anyone ever considered that there are lots of RVers who aren't interested in rallies and conventions?  In ten years and 65,000 miles of full-timing we've been to exactly one rally and never plan to attend another one.  We use our MH to go somewhere interesting, not to sit around talking to other RVers.  JMO

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Everyone has their own opinion of why they have a RV, just like people who want a second home, away from the cities.  Some of us travel also by boat or private plane!

FMCA IMHO, has evolved from a club of like minded, family oriented, coach owners, that wanted to get together once a year and share experiences, to what we have today!  Today we have 2 parts of FMCA.  Non Profit & for Profit.  Both Ross and Herman, do not like to discuss the whole picture.  Come to think of it, as Ross said...6 years ago any member of FMCA could get a P&L of the Foundation.  You can still get it, but only once a year and it's not the 990-N, but it's a condensed version,  not interesting unless you know what your looking for!  

As for the FMC  P&L?  Good Luck, last one I had was in 2014.  That's the For Profit side.  Ross said we should have, but don't have 2 years in reserve...He's right, my CPA estimated we had about 20+ years in reserve!  As Herman said, we will survive!  Will FMCA be around for it's 100 year Anniversary?  Most of us will not live 40+ years more to find out.

I'm among the very few in FMCA, that used to have a 4 digit F# and since my DW passed away, now have a 6 digit #...got my coach in 1967!

With Luck, this post will not be partially or totally deleted.

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13 hours ago, elkhartjim said:

Ross made it perfectly clear, FMCA is bleeding cash. Magazine loosing $300,000 per year and membership numbers dropping like a rock certainly doesn't sound promising.

So what do you think should be done to turn those numbers around? I gave a couple now tell me yours.

Here is something else they should work on. being attractive to full timers like docj. There are a growing number of younger full timers out there and we need to actively work to attract them.

Bill

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How many of you, when in a Rv Park, Resort, and state or national park, gone up and introduce yourself to another camper and talk about FMCA. I have on many occasions but I don't do it near enough. I have left many Family Rving magazines at park counters. How many have I recruited, I have no idea. But I am still trying.

Charlie Adcock had a saying that is still used, it was "It's All About Having Fun". For now I would like to start a new one, "We Are All In This Together'.

Hang in there everyone.

 

We are all in this together, Herman

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The magazine has been losing $$$ for years & we have had the digital option for years!  I use digital when we are traveling, but I'm Old School, so I look forward to my glossy mag when we are home!  Same with the Escapees glossy mag.

Don't know why we let GS go out there and get the 10% discount's at RV Parks & Resorts, big mistake almost 60 years ago!  Be difficult to turn that around. IMO.

We opened up FMCA to include Trailer, to attract the younger market, too offset our loss of members...didn't work!   We expected young (not in need of FMCAssist)and got older!  They love the Assist program...

I'm an Optimist, but have run out of ideas and the ideas I have presented, falls on deaf ears!  

 

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Bill, looking at it from a business standpoint, reduce staff, go strictly to electronic magazine and lower the annual dues to bring in more members. I like your idea of giving away a one year membership with new coaches sold. Make the FMCA Assist an optional program with a separate charge. Not to turn this into a political scene but you can't tax your way out of a financial crisis and by continuing to raise the dues thats exactly what they are doing.  We always had a saying in sales that its much easier and less expensive to retain a customer than to get a new customer. If they are truly losing 1000+ members a month, they need to do something quickly or they won't exist in a matter of a few years. Escapees has kept their dues at less than $40 for some time and their membership growth has been descent.  

Sorry Herman, but I would never walk up to a complete stranger and have a conversation on the merits of FMCA. Why?  Other than med assist and a tire program that I question the value of, what does FMCA have to offer? I know, rallys!  Like DocJ, I have no interest driving halfway across the  country to park shoulder to shoulder with 2000 RV's and go to a seminar. The majority of younger folks don't have the time or interest. 

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FMCA has reduced staff in the past month. 
 

Digital magazine would have to be much better than the current one. Poor on my iPhone. Better on my laptop. 
 

Only the Governing Board can change the dues other than special promotions approved be the Executive Board. 

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There are a few things that need to be clarified here.

 

Doc- You must not have seen financial records in a long time. I have been with FMCA for 6.5 years and we have never come close to bank balances totaling $1 million dollars. We currently have 35 employees. How many do you feel is fair to service 79,000 members, produce and print 12 magazines per year, and two international conventions per year? 

As a non profit, FMCA tax records are public knowledge. 

Wildebill- We have 5,500 non -motorhome members. It is easy to say selling ads should be a piece of cake to that segment. When you ask them to outlay print ad money, the numbers make it a tough sell. We have partnerships with many dealers and manufacturers to offer comp memberships. We have been doing this for longer than I have been with FMCA. We have a limited budget on the advertising side. We get great bang for our buck promoting FMCA on Facebook and Google. Our cost per acquisition is excellent. 

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Doing away with a print magazine comes with mixed results. I have many digital subscriptions, but I regularly only read those that are in print. I will read through a digital copy once. A print copy will sit on the table and get looked at often. Then it moves to the 'reading room' where it gets read another few dozen times.

I think that the problems with digital magazine can be seen just by looking at the forum participation - we have tens of thousands of members and only see a tiny fraction of them here.

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18 minutes ago, smithy said:

We currently have 35 employees. How many do you feel is fair to service 79,000 members, produce and print 12 magazines per year, and two international conventions per year? 

Not to be snarky, but since I have no interest in the international conventions or in the print magazine, I would suggest that maybe you have at least 25 too many. 

I'm with elkhartjim on this issue--what exactly is the "value added" of an organization such as FMCA to it's members?  I used to think of the tire program as one of those, but last year I purchased Hankook tires for less than the FMCA price.  And how often does one really need to buy tires anyway?  The cost of FMCA dues over the ~7 years between tire purchases more than offsets any available discount.

I usually pay Good Sam Club a membership solely for the purpose of getting 10% off my RV park fees.  That normally pays for itself every year, but I cancelled it this year because we aren't going to travel because of COVID-19.  Similarly, I have paid KOA for its discount card but won't do so this year.  These are entirely "transactional relationships"; I pay because I get something in return.

One thing that usually gets overlooked in discussions such as this is that many thousands of RV owners use them for something other than recreational camping.  Many Americans use RVs as "alternative housing", a term that includes people who move from one job location to another and those who live in RVs because they find that less expensive and more appealing than apartments and/or other housing they can afford.  Most of these people don't frequent these forums, they hang out in  Facebook groups and similar places.  Many of them lack the basic knowledge of how RVs function and could truly benefit from an honest information source.  However, many (most?) of these folks would rather watch a YouTube video on how to fix something than pay to belong to an organization from which they might be able to get assistance.

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6 minutes ago, docj said:

...I'm with elkhartjim on this issue--what exactly is the "value added" of an organization such as FMCA to it's members?  I used to think of the tire program as one of those, but last year I purchased Hankook tires for less than the FMCA price.  And how often does one really need to buy tires anyway?  The cost of FMCA dues over the ~7 years between tire purchases more than offsets any available discount.

I usually pay Good Sam Club a membership solely for the purpose of getting 10% off my RV park fees.  That normally pays for itself every year, but I cancelled it this year because we aren't going to travel because of COVID-19.  Similarly, I have paid KOA for its discount card but won't do so this year.  These are entirely "transactional relationships"; I pay because I get something in return...

I think that this sums up what's a huge split in why people are members of FMCA. Some view FMCA as not much more than a discount club, while others see it as something totally different and more like a club of like-minded people. If FMCA were just a discount club, then certainly it could do with far less staff. But, that's not all it is, and providing the other functions takes more effort and more money.

Another thing that is not mentioned, but important, is the ability of an organization like FMCA to lobby on behalf of members for legislation and regulations favorable to us.

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2 hours ago, docj said:

Not to be snarky, but since I have no interest in the international conventions or in the print magazine, I would suggest that maybe you have at least 25 too many. 

I'm with elkhartjim on this issue--what exactly is the "value added" of an organization such as FMCA to it's members?  I used to think of the tire program as one of those, but last year I purchased Hankook tires for less than the FMCA price.  And how often does one really need to buy tires anyway?  The cost of FMCA dues over the ~7 years between tire purchases more than offsets any available discount.

I usually pay Good Sam Club a membership solely for the purpose of getting 10% off my RV park fees.  That normally pays for itself every year, but I cancelled it this year because we aren't going to travel because of COVID-19.  Similarly, I have paid KOA for its discount card but won't do so this year.  These are entirely "transactional relationships"; I pay because I get something in return.

One thing that usually gets overlooked in discussions such as this is that many thousands of RV owners use them for something other than recreational camping.  Many Americans use RVs as "alternative housing", a term that includes people who move from one job location to another and those who live in RVs because they find that less expensive and more appealing than apartments and/or other housing they can afford.  Most of these people don't frequent these forums, they hang out in  Facebook groups and similar places.  Many of them lack the basic knowledge of how RVs function and could truly benefit from an honest information source.  However, many (most?) of these folks would rather watch a YouTube video on how to fix something than pay to belong to an organization from which they might be able to get assistance.

Our members do want the magazine and events, so we must provide the service. 35 to carry out all of the functions our members want seems fair to me.

We have nearly 79,000 members. Those members must find some value add to being a member of FMCA.  People need to assess what the value proposition is and decide if it is worth having a membership. Just because you don't doesn't mean FMCA is not a viable and valuable organization to many others. 

 

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3 hours ago, smithy said:

Our members do want the magazine and events, so we must provide the service. 35 to carry out all of the functions our members want seems fair to me.

We have nearly 79,000 members. Those members must find some value add to being a member of FMCA.  People need to assess what the value proposition is and decide if it is worth having a membership. Just because you don't doesn't mean FMCA is not a viable and valuable organization to many others. 

 

I agree with Smithy. 

 I for one enjoy the magazine and look forward to it's arrival monthly. I also enjoy the rallies, in fact I was really looking forward to Tuscon. 

We Attend about one rally a year, if not FMCA then a Winnebago rally. We are members of their club too. I will gladly take and use my credit towards a future rally as offered. 

 

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Ok Smithy, What is your job at FMCA? What RV do you have?

"We have 5,500 non-motorhome members." I hate to tell you but that sounds realey condescending towards our fellow RVers. You do know there is a perception in the non-motorhome world that FMCA is a bunch of rich elitist in their fancy coaches. 

It is more about the person and the journey than the type of RV they have.

"It is easy to say selling ads should be a piece of cake to that segment. When you ask them to outlay print ad money, the numbers make it a tough sell." No one said it would be easy. What kind of deals are you offering? 

"We have partnerships with many dealers and manufacturers to offer comp memberships. We have been doing this for longer than I have been with FMCA." That's interesting because I have been in several major dealers and I have just bought a new to me 2008 Newmar Mountain Aire frome (NIDRVC) and never heard anything about FMCA. Never saw a poster on the wall or  any type of promotional material. I can't think of ever seeing anything at any RV dealership. 

"We have a limited budget on the advertising side" Ok what are you doing to leverage it? 

"We get great bang for our buck promoting FMCA on Facebook and Google. Our cost per acquisition is excellent." Well that is realey cool but you arn't making your goals for numbers. This goes back to my original questions. What do you think? What do you think can be improved and how?

Here's a tip for your "social media" people. Work on some of the Channels on Youtube. Many have thousand of followers Many are full time RVers. Some can get several hundred to show up for a meet and greet. Work on getting benefit packages that will appeal to full timers. Then promote them because they are the ones in touch with those who plan on gong full time or joining the RV lifestyle.

Bill

 

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2 hours ago, hermanmullins said:

Unfortunately he has gotten just what he wanted. Attention.

Well Herman it appears that what we realey need is for some people to pay attention to the problem.

Bill

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Bill, thank you!  

Smithy, the last time I was offered a one year comp for FMCA membership by a dealer, was in 1996, I bought a 1997 Allegro!  Yes, they did it in the 1960's to 1990's!  I knew nothing about FMCA until I bought my first new, cookie cutter coach in 1967!  

Sure wish someone from FMCA would join in, that will not play the PC card.  IMHO, we all need to be able to throw out ideas, without getting false feed back from the paid employee!

Ross, you forgot to mention committee recommendation to the EB for Governance vote!  Are you back on a committee?  

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1 hour ago, manholt said:

Ross, you forgot to mention committee recommendation to the EB for Governance vote!  Are you back on a committee?  

Yes, I am chairman of the Policy and Procedure committee. Probably my last year. I am getting tired of the NAVP’s doing what is best for themselves or their area. They have lost sight of the bigger picture to do what is best for FMCA  

There still is the dealer program to give free memberships to their customers. Only a couple do anything with it. Lazy Days does. Most are interested in closing the deal, not giving FMCA memberships. 

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