Thoughts on raising TLCA dues???

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Howdy folks;
Membership has been flat or slightly declinging for the last 4 years. We seem to be stuck at about the 3,200 mark, more or less.
Most folks join primarily to get Toyota Trails, which Todd Kaderabek does an exemplary job with. It's a great magazine, and has gotten bigger, and better, and with more color during his tenure. Which is *great,* except that it now costs a little more to prduce than it used to.
Also, many members choose to join at the third class bulk mail postage rate (versus first class postage, which is a $15 upgrade that TLCA actually loses money on at that rate).
USPS does not guarantee delivery of bulk rate mail, and every month we have 75-100 members who do not get the Toyota Trails they paid for, and joined to get...This leaves our administrator with a huge headache, re-sending issues. Which, we're glad to do, but this costs TLCA additional time and money.
Soooo, if you're still with me:) We're feeling like we need to:
a) raise dues to cover the cost of keeping Toyota Trails the great magazine that it is in a delcining (or at least static) membership environment.
b) perhaps consider making first class postage the only option to try to resolve the "bulkmail non-delivery" problem.

Current base membership is $27 (when paid by credit card, $25 by check).
If we add $3/year to keep Toyota Trails *great,* we move to $30/year.

This seems fairly palatable to me. I don't think folks will quit over that...
If we now add the $15 first class postage upgrade, we now jump from $27 to $45...which I think is likely to run lots off.

Help me folks! Ideas? Thoughts?

thanks, chef
 
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It'd be nice if we could solidify the discount that we are supposed to get at various Toyota dealerships. If we could get Toyota to give us some kind of official discount card, then a cost savings benefit would be easier to sell. Maybe find vendors willing to put up discount 'coupons' in the Trails.

Then, make it $50/year, 1st class postage included - no options.
 
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JasonH said:
It'd be nice if we could solidify the discount that we are supposed to get at various Toyota dealerships. If we could get Toyota to give us some kind of official discount card, then a cost savings benefit would be easier to sell. Maybe find vendors willing to put up discount 'coupons' in the Trails.

Then, make it $50/year, 1st class postage included - no options.
Jason;
Thanks for your input. It's true that different vendors participate at different levels, and some not at all. You have to remember that our 3000 members don't all shop at the same places at the same times, and identify themselves wehn they do. This makes us a very small niche market...Trying to get all the vendors "on a level field," would be extremely difficult, and trying to get Toyota Corporate (tm) to tell all their dealerships that they need to cater to a mere 3000 members spread out all over the nation I think is just impossible. It'd sure be nice though;)

We just flat out need to raise dues $3-5 to keep Toyota Trails really, really good.
I'm not sure how to fix the "first class versus bulk rate non-delivery" issue...
 

woody

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IMO, folks accept that risk on bulk...no different than any other publication...I wouldn't sweat that portion of it...

It still boggles me that membership is so low...
 
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I have never been a fan of raising the dues. I do not recommend it now.

But Alan's proposal does seem reasonable and almost a compromise.

I think in general it is not appropriate to raise everyone's dues because 100 folks cannot keep a current address on file. Yes, delivery is a problem.

ON the other hand, the last times dues were raised was early 90s when the membership services position was created. It has been probably the longest stretch yet between dues increases.

As long as there is a plain business reason to do it as justified by the budget/actual numbers.

tough decision for sure.
 

nuclearlemon

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while i'm not a fan of raising dues since money's tight in my household, i do understand that it is often necessary. colorado 4x4 clubs will have to face the same decision since united is raising their dues.

tlca has never had a regular dues increase and we may be about due for one.
 
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To me, it seems just plain clear that we need to raise dues $3-5 to keep Toyota Trails great.
As we wrestle with membership atrrition/retention, if we let Toyota Trails backslide into something "more mediocre" I think that just gives folks one more reason to let thier membership lapse.
Trails is the primary reason folks join, it's unacceptable to me to let it backslide...
 
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The decline in membership puzzles me as well. I've thought of resigning so someone else can try to build membership through the magazine. I decided to change a few things instead, see if I can be effective. It is frustrating though.

I think as long as a dues increase can be fiscally supported, we should do it. How much, I don't know. I wish we could go all first class (which is how other publications mail) but we don't have the numbers to do it. And I don't think most people know that bulk isn't guaranteed nor do they realize just how slow it is. They're just opting for the less expensive of the two choices.

I also have noted the contradiction here. We're trying to increase interest/membership while at the same time downgrading our vehicle (the magazine) to do that. Pay more and get less. It's a bad message.

I feel like TLCA needs to be a more value added organization. It needs to be more than just the magazine. The events are very important to me and I know they are to others as well. They need to be pushed as a benefit. I've made some other suggestions at the BOD level, such as TLCA giving away a major raffle prize at all events with those proceeds going to TLCA. We need to start selling merchandise. Membership can't be the only revenue source.

Off topic, sorry. All these black and white pages depress me.

TJK
 

KOWBOY

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I'm a radical.

$50/year which includes first class postage.

Let the chips fall where they may.

:flamingo:
 

Mace

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Eh, the people with first class postage only make it that much more exciting for those of us cheap bastids who have to wait for their stuff. :D


30, $35 not so bad. Kick it to $50 and I think you will lose a buncha members..
 
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OK, maybe $50 is a little high. My feeling is that you're gonna get the most new members by showing them how they're gonna make that $50 back by joining. I agree that the events are the coolest part of membership, but realistically how many people go to those every year? 5-600?
To people who don't understand what Trails is about, $30 is a lot for a magazine subscription.
 

alvarorb

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The new look of TT is great. It's printed on high quality stock, it has a lot of color pages. It looks very professional. It's layout and design is a lot better than most other magazines in this market. Plus most important, it has awesome content.
I think that a $5 rate hike would be OK by most people. A full year of TT is jus a little more than half a tank of gas on our Cruisers.

I'm all for it.

Regards

Alvaro
 

woooody

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I think that if we explain to our members where our funds go, they will be receptive to the idea of raising the dues.

While TT is a major cost, there is revenue from TT to offset that. We have many other costs the the members hould know of.

Insurance -- What do the members get from that? If they participate, a lot!

Admin -- that's a chunk as well. Do the members know that we have a paid admin for all of their needs (as well as all of the BOD's needs)?

Web -- there's a cost associated with that. Do we make any revenue from that? Are the members receiving a benefit from that (do they think it's a benefit? I know I do).


Clubs have asked me what they get from being a TLCA sanctioned club. We have to be able to quicly rattle off the benefits.

my 2 cents
 

nuclearlemon

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a complaint i've heard a few times is the online registration and not being able to purchase merchandise or lack of merchandise on teh website...are those issues resolved (i renew by mail, so i couldn't try it out).
 
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Kaderabek said:
I feel like TLCA needs to be a more value added organization. It needs to be more than just the magazine. The events are very important to me and I know they are to others as well. They need to be pushed as a benefit. I've made some other suggestions at the BOD level, such as TLCA giving away a major raffle prize at all events with those proceeds going to TLCA. We need to start selling merchandise. Membership can't be the only revenue source.

Off topic, sorry. All these black and white pages depress me.

TJK
This is exactly how I feel.
There are often people I meet that have never heard of Toyota Trails or TLCA and they are Toyota 4x4 owners that are interested.

Merchandise would be great. I hope you don't take this wrong but the web ordering is horrible! I tried to order a shirt and gave up!
Maybe stuff like TLCA credit cards (like a Visa or MC w/ a LC on it), checks, shirts, cowbells, hats, stuff for women & kids...

One thing is maybe work on promoting TLCA at the dealership level or thru Toyota-sponsored events... some way to gain more exposure to Toyota owners. TT on a rack at dealerships? TLCA dealer-installed option pkg?

Maybe thru TLCA's relationship w/ Toyota a limited edition TLCA FJ Cruiser? OEM TLCA edition "whatever", access to the LC design & engineering team... all kinds of stuff!:popcorn: I mean, Toyota is certainly happy to use TLCA's clout and credibility to promote it's products... time for some payback?

Toyota is considering a MOAB Edition FJC, I think a TLCA Edition would be a great addition- maybe a 'free' membership pkg w/ that truck, some kickback for using the TLCA name, great exposure for TLCA/great credibility for Toyota.

Just brainstorming...

I love the changes to TT, hope it keeps developing. I am not afraid of a rate hike. :)
 
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I think that TLCA reaches Land Cruiser owners via internet, word of mouth via owners, and other means because people owning Land Cruisers seek information, search the net, make phone calls to shops. Essentially, they need the tlca because their rig is difficult to maintain without a network of support. When they find the TLCA, they also find all the benefits and rarely have I heard anyone dissappointed with TT, events, or other aspects once they are "in the know". There are thousands more mini truck owners and likely FJC owners who don't have the same need to network for parts, information, etc. because of the sheer numbers and aftermarket support. Since the number of Land Cruisers is not growing (much anyway) and more than likely in decline, it may be beneficial to the organization to heavily market to FJC and later model owners in order to expand. I know TLCA does not discriminate as the requirement is to own a Toy 4X4 not necessarily a Land Cruiser. TT represents Mini's and FJC's as well so the content is there. I think that it would be helpful to aggressively expand the message to the growing number of non-land Cruiser folks. Others may disagree but I think there should be an issue of TT or TLCA flyer given to every Toyota 4X4 purchaser be it FJC, Tacoma, 4runner, etc. Is it possible to coordinate with dealerships to extend the benefits of TLCA to their customers?

I don't mind a rate increase personally.
 

phishtaco

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I have driven and wheeled 4wd Toyota trucks for the past 15 years or so...I had heard of TLCA but had absoultely no idea that a magazine came along with it until I joined. I was reading a thread on pirate if there was a toyota specific magazine available and Chris Geiger replied by saying TT. This was about 2-3 years ago and then I joined b/c of the mag.
moral of the story....I don't think that everyone knows that the mag comes with the subscritpion.

It's probably too late now, but it would have been cool to distribute some free copies at the Tacoma Take Over event at hot springs this weekend. maybe we are?
 

MaddBaggins

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A rate hike is cool with me, even if it went to $50 I'd still be in. Hell my wife spends over $100 a year on gossip mags so, whatever. I didn't realize there was a loss on sending bulk mail TT. Next time I renew, I will gladly pony up for the 1rst class to help the club. And Todd, the mag is absolutley spectacular these days. Keep it up!:cheers:

I agree with something Wayneraintree said. LC's are going to be on the decline as the years pass and as a group we need to market much more heavily to the other Toyota 4x4's. FJ Cruiser's, Tacoma's, Tundra's, 4Runner's, even cute little Rav4's. Not sure what we can do differently here on MUD, but there are tons of people right here on this site who aren't members of TLCA. What's up with that! Then there is FJcruiserforums, yotatech, pirate, lots of boards with more Toyota owners that could be members. We need to find a way to entice people right here on the net.
And our member retention isn't so hot. I joined more than 2 years ago with a member # of 14528, yet we only have 3200 members. So a lot of people have come and gone since the club formed.
:cheers:
 
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I remember an article on a study Disney did at one of their parks. Their fee was something like $26 (many moons ago). They surveyed people coming through the gate and asked how much they paid to get in. The most common answer was around $30, so they bumped their price up to that and didn't change the perception of their customers.

I'd say bump to $30.
 
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