Focused on Growth
By Chris Wilson, PT, DPT
In the middle of my second year as chair of the Membership Committee, although I find our section to be approaching the membership numbers of 2012, I recognize that growth over the last six years has been relatively flat. This contrasts with steady growth of the American Physical Therapy Association as a whole. As a result, the Membership Committee is working hard to help grow our membership in the present and set up a sustainable way of continuing that growth for a volunteer-driven organization.
Over the past year the Membership Committee has focused on three primary areas: (1) developing membership personas, (2) documenting an ideal membership experience, and (3) restructuring the committee in order to simplify responsibilities and goals, and to minimize the effects of the inevitable turnover inherent in any organization.
Developing Membership Personas
As physical therapists in business, we recognize the importance of conveying value to our customers. We recognize the need to understand our customers to tailor that value proposition. For the Membership Committee that meant understanding and documenting our different membership personas. We felt that doing so would allow not only our committee but also all leadership in the Private Practice Section (PPS) to better deliver value. A membership persona source document can also serve as a cross-reference for our current resources and activities against the needs and wants of all our members. The result was a detailed breakout of five personas: (1) Owner, (2) Business Development/Marketer, (3) Clinical Supervisor, (4) Young Professional, and (5) Administration and Practice Manager.
Developing an Ideal Membership Experience
Building on the membership personas, we also felt it was important to understand and define the ideal membership experience. By understanding our different types of members and applying our understanding to the ideal membership experience, we have the opportunity to better share the value of PPS. In establishing the ideal membership experience we realized it was a two-stage process divided into new members and renewing members. The new member experience we realized was different because joining PPS can be intimidating at first. So we called the ideal experience for new members the “Big Hug.” We want new members to feel part of the group from day one. If they are welcomed and become invested in PPS, they are more likely to realize the value proposition and stay as long-term members. For membership years 2 and beyond (“Year 2+”), we plan to focus on demonstrating value for the members’ evolving needs, aiding their growth, and helping them to avoid common errors and achieve success.
In identifying the need for growth and sustainability of our membership base, we also realized that as a committee we needed to define our present and future structure. Our work led to a more formal structure with three teams dedicated to (1) Student Engagement, (2) Outreach and Recruitment, and (3) Retain and Sustain. A more formal structure facilitated clearer individual roles while paving the way for more objective goals. In doing so, we have also laid the groundwork for improved continuity to facilitate a smooth transition during committee turnover. This will make it easier for future volunteers to get started with the end goal of helping to consistently grow PPS membership.
By developing personas, ideal membership experiences, and clear roles for our committee members, we hope to grow the Private Practice Section by meeting the needs of current and future members. Adding new members year in and year out is an important need, but we also need to ensure that once members join, they stay. The data suggests that by preventing “churn” we can grow much more quickly without significant additional effort—it is easier to keep a customer than to find a new one. Understanding the different types of members, the different needs of members, where members look for content, what pressure points members face, how members define success, and how individual committee members can positively affect the membership experience can only help to grow the PPS brand!A special thank you to Danielle Openshaw for keeping me in line and the committee on track; Stacey Alberts for her guidance and wisdom; Clay Watson for his continuity, ideas, and outside the box approach; Kelly McFarland for her drive, energy, and enthusiasm; Charlie Bigelow for his patience, perspective, and adaptability; Audrey Finer for jumping in and weathering new approaches; Elliot Cleveland for accepting the challenge as a new grad; and Stephanie Weyrauch for diving right in! I appreciate all your hard work and dedication to the profession and to the Private Practice Section.