Stepping stones to good member relations

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Material Information

Title:
Stepping stones to good member relations
Series Title:
Information / Farmer Cooperative Service ;
Physical Description:
28 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language:
English
Creator:
Raper, Luther E
United States -- Farmer Cooperative Service
Publisher:
Farmer Cooperative Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
Place of Publication:
Washington, D.C
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Agriculture, Cooperative -- United States   ( lcsh )
Genre:
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )

Notes

General Note:
Caption title.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Luther E. Raper.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 027759153
oclc - 31861553
System ID:
AA00013699:00001

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
    Table of Contents
        Page ii
    Introduction
        Page 1
    Evident need
        Page 2
    Adequate capital
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Good communications
        Page 5
    Trained personnel
        Page 6
    Voluntary use
        Page 7
    Democratic control
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Qualified directors
        Page 10
        Page 11
    Defined responsibilities
        Page 12
    Membership program
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
    Equitable treatment
        Page 17
        Page 18
    Quality products
        Page 19
        Page 20
    Adequate records
        Page 21
        Page 22
    Good service
        Page 23
    Understanding public
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
    Back Cover
        Page 29
        Page 30
Full Text







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For many years Luther Raper has been in charge of membership relations activities for the Southern States Cooperative of Richmond, Va. He realizes that cooperatives are more than business organizations in that to be effective they must maintain a close identity with those who are served the members.

This circular is based. upon a talk that Mr. Raper presented at the Fifth Eastern Member Relations Conference ,sponsored by the American Institute of Cooperation and the Farmer Cooperative Service, at Springfield, Mass., May 9-11, 1962. It distills Mr. Raper 's many years of experience in working with farmers for the benefit. of all who are interested in the sound development of agricultural cooperative s.
Joseph G. Knapp, Administrator,
Farqzer. Cooperative Service





Contents
Page
E vident Need ----------6---------2
Adequate Capital --------- 3
Good Communications----------;,--5
Trained Personnel --------------6
Voluntary Use------------------ 7
Democratic Control ----------8 Qualified Directors ---------- 10 Defined Responsibilities --------12 Membership Program ----------13 Equitable Treatment ------ ---- 17 Quality Products---------------19
Adequate Records------------- 21
Good Service------------------ 23
Understanding Public ------------24









Stepping







Good Member Relations

by Luther E. Roper

Member relations is an important and vital part of every cooperative ..*. of every kind, age and size ..*. and' under any condition. Its effects are powerful, far-reaching and longlasting, though somewhat intangible.

These effect's are the results of the thoughts, words, and deeds of the individual member and may be spread to influence the thinking and actions of large numbers of people .. members and others.

They may be good or they may be bad, depending on the actions and attitudes of the cooperative and itsT membership. Intelligent, clearthinking cooperative leadership encourages good member relations; thoughtlessness, ignorance, and attempts to force them on others may destroy good member relations.

Member relations may be considered a "thing of the heart."1 Involved are such diverse factors as understanding, education, likes and dislikes, personalities, needs', investments,






patronage, and economics. Every member contributes to his cooperative's membership "image" and every member is affected by that "image" and how the cooperative conducts itself An dealing with him and other members. Members' willingness to finance their organization properly, or give it the volume it must have to render adequate and efficient service, is usually dependent on the quality of the member relations the organization exhibits.

What are some of the things that contribute to a cooperative's member relations ? What are the "stepping stones" on the path to building good member relations? Let's look at a few of them; namely, evident need, adequate capital, good communications, trained personnel, voluntary use, democratic control, qualified 'directors, defined responsibilities,, membership program, equitable treatment, quality products, adequate records, good service, and an understanding public,


CEvildent N17eed

Before organizing a cooperative, there should be an evident need for it in the community. Those who would logically -become its members and use its services should individually and collectively recognize that need, They should be sure. the potential number of patrons, and the potential volume of business.they will contribute, will be large enough to make the operation feasible and practical.

2






The work done and the technique~ used in finding and evaluating that need will greatly affect the future cooper-' ative. The men who actually solicit the moral, financial,and business support of their neighbors in the undertaking will be doing some of the best, most inexpensive and long-lasting member relations work for that cooperative that will ever be done. Their tact, interpretation of the existing and evident need of others, their intelligent approach, their persuasive power, and their development of the "we"l approach to the problem will largely determine their success. If they make friends for themselves and for the organization they're trying to launch, their job will be satisfactorily done.

('di~ueCa7ital)

To have a long-time successful cooperative, members must furnish adequate capital to do the job the most efficient way. Twenty years ago, a farm supply cooperative could start with $10,000 to $20,000 operating capital and get along on $60,000 to $80,000 business its first year. Today, the same cooperative would need $50,000 to $75,000 capital and a first-year volume of $200,000 or more.
The cooperative which tries to get by on inadequate facilities, limited service, and a short inventory will find the going tough. The confidence of members will be shaky. The management is sure to be in trouble. Member relations will be off to a bad start.
3






With increased automation, fewer and larger farms, and the many new and costly services today's members need - linked with lower handling margins and higher costs, building an adequate capital structure becomes more essential and more difficult.

And the road will get rougher. Cooperatives are now competing with the pace, they earlier helped to set. Along with supplies and services, they must effectively merchandise coope rative principle s and understanding to and among members -- in other words,' "sell" themselves. No longer can a purchasing cooperative save the member $1. a bag on starting mash. and this is good.

Farmers now put only about 2 percent of their total investments in their cooperatives. This must be increased sharply. it is good business for farmers to adequately finance their own cooperatives, the businesses that serve them at cost the year around. Farmers think little of investing in expensive machinery used only a few days or weeks -a year - corn pickers, for example. The cooperative is a tool they can use the year around.

Nothing will do as much to make for understanding, and to open 'the hearts and pocketbooks of members, as will good member relations. Relations are best only when the cooperative is adequately financed and exists as a st rong, going concern. Nothing encourages membership support and patronage like a sound, growling enterprise. And nothing keeps.
4.







members interested as much as having their own money - a goodly amount, -invested in their own business.

=Ooo4 CommunicafiDons

Good communications are a "must" in building good member relations. The member who is not kept informed soon loses contact with his organization. Then he loses interest. Disinterest leads to misunderstanding, and misunderstanding to downright neglect -- and sometimes opposition.

Whatever your communications -membership publication, letters, direct mail, radio or TV, point- of -purchase materials, meetings, or man-to-man contact -- they ought to be adequate to tell your members what the cooperative has done, what it is now doing and what it hopes to do for them. There is no time for short-changing your communications program when .you need more membership support with each passing year. For when you do, you're inviting competitors to move in with an even heavier barrage and "sell" your Patrons right out from under you,

Staff your communications program with trained, experienced communicators, give them an adequate budget, give them attention and guidance, and evaluate the results regularly and often. The uninformed member cannot use 'iis cooperative most intelligently. Remember, the best informed member is usually the best member.

5






And remember, too, communications are a two-way street. Listen to the voices of members now andthen, and hearken to what they say. Your own efforts at communicating words, advice, giiidance, services, and' supplies will be the better for it.


C~raned personnel)

Good member relations, like public relations, are built by the cheery, pleasant voice that answers the plan t telephone, the employee .who loads members' trucks quickly and carefully, the serviceman who handles deliveries and repairs equipment efficiently, the clerk who fills the order with a smile, the man who appraises a request for credit -- or a loan -in an understanding manner,

To the average member, the individual employee is "the cooperative."' Very often, that. member has little contact with the organization as a whole. He Judges it by the quality and efficiency of the people he knows who work for it.

Need any better argument for'making sure employees are well trained in their jobs and in dealing with others?

Need any better reason for taking time to explain, and show, and school every single employee of every cooperative -- with special emphasis on managers, assistant managers and those you expect to be permanent about the organization he* or she works

6






"for, how it operates, how it differs'! from the profit business down the street that renders similar service, what its responsibilities to members are?

Your cooperative is judged by the people it employs, Be sure they portray the image and conduct relations with the public the way you'd like them to. Continuous and systematic training of employees is essential in building and maintaining good member relations.


CVohuntary'Use

The greatest single advantage a cooperative has over its competition lies in the lower costs of getting business, made possible by members' voluntarily ordering supplies and services. If a cooperative can lead its members to place their orders voluntarily, use special discount and early order programs, join in pooling their business without excessive solicitation, they'll remove the need for armies of field men and special salesmen to beat the bushes and cover the highways and byways at tremendous expense. Understanding members who place their business voluntarily are among a cooperative's greatestassets.

Voluntary use helped build most cooperatives. Unfortunately, today the trend is in the opposite direction, Even some of the best members wait for the manager or the field man to. pay them a visit and "ask" for their patronage.

7






If this is to be the order of the day, why not turn it to an advantage for those who want to build better member relations? Should not the employee do a little selling on the cooperative way of doing business when seeking orders ? Why not explain to the stockholder-member that if his "local', can depend on him to phone in his feed or fertilizer order regularly and use the early movement programs and the same goes for marketing and service co-ops -- he'll help save a lot of farm visits? This, in turn, can cut expenses,make greater savings, strengthen his co-op and, perhaps, increase his patronage refund. Appeal to his sense of loyalty, to his desire to see his own business do well.

It won't work in all cases, but it will surely work in some, Andwhen it does, you've taken another, step toward better member relations, ,because you've succeeded in getting another member interested in doing something for his cooperative and himself. You've made him a part of the big picture and made him important, How much more volume and lower costs a cooperative would enjoy if all its members used it as voluntarily and exclusively as a select few do!

CDemocrafic Controli

Cooperatives' adherence to the principles of democratic control *-much like the American citizen exercising his one vote to elect representatives responsive to his wishes -gives them a tremendous tool in
8






explaining their operations to members and the public. It should automatically make them proud to be a part of the cooperative system, proud to be a part of something so American. Though the citizen understands all about his own right of franchise and his part in our democratic system, he often fails to grasp the connection when folks try to explain that the "one-man, onevote" democratic control 'of his cooperative is much like his personal concept of democracy.

Providing the machinery for democratic control and getting it understood by the membership at large are both difficult jobs.,

Too often, the actual concept of membership -- the thing that gives the member the right to vote, to elect his board members, to help decide policies, to guide his cooperative -is not fully appreciated.

After establishing the "onemember, one-vote" system of democratic control in an organization, getting the members to turn out and exercise their vote is indeed a horse of a different color. Encouraging the member with, the half dozen shares to take an interest in his business and making him see that he is an actual "owner" isn't easy. And if he does .become interested, he, of course, must be trained to recognize that cooperatives, unlike other businesses,, measure him as an individual and not, .by the size or amount of his ownership.

9






When the cooperative is large and has many members he becomes much like the American voter who excuses his disinterest in voting by some such statemefit as, "O0h, my vote is only one vote. It couldn't influence anything ... or elect anyone." So, inertia develops and soon leads to disinterest In attending meetings, voting for directors or policies, or exhibiting, concern about the cooperative's affairs and future well-being. It becomes easy to "let George do it" -- to "let Henry serve term after term on the board without any contest" -- to accept every policy that is proposed.

Making members conscious of their ownership of the organization, of the right to vote which that ownership bestows, and of the need for eternal vigilance is the job of member relations.

Member relations is really a matter of getting more people into the act, This may be accomplished through communicating -- mostly face-to-face explanations of .how the cooperative control system operates; -it may be in establishing machinery for rotating board members, in requesting nominating committees to provide more than one candidate for each vacancy; or in making meetings where people vote so interesting that more will attend and vote.

(O afi ed Dector)

Qualified directors who know their jobs and can interpret the cooperative

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to others are an important part of the trained and efficient manpower needed to promote good relations with members. To be effective, directors must:

1. Be legal members of the cooperative, preferably with reasonably long histories of membership and use,

2. Have time to assume their many responsibilities.

3. Understand and support organization aims and purposes.

4. Know everything possible about the cooperative,

5. Know their own responsibility and authority as directors -- and the limitations of each.6. Put the welfare of the membership ahe ad of their own when setting policies, and making decisions.

7. Be recognized as influential farm leaders, with ability to plan, organize, persuade, and lead.

8. Be stable men of sound judgment, but have the capacity to inspire emotional response from members 0 0 There will always be a place for limited and guided emotionalism in cooperatives.

9. Have had successful experience of their own in business -- farm business or otherwise.

10. Have the will and ability to interpret .the needs and desires of the members they represent.






Finally, a good director must be someone you'd be willing to trust to handle your money and run your organization.



CDefined Responsibilities

Directors, employees, members and suppliers each have, and must assume, certain responsibilities if the organization is to operate smoothly' and soundly. And when each group does assume and carry out its responsibilities, the organization is efficient, looks and acts efficient, and- inspires confidence and good relations with members and the public,

Each respective group must not only know its responsibilities., but how they relate to those of the other groups. When a cooperative is small and gives only limited services to alimitednumber of people in a single community, the division of responsibilities takes care of itself more or less,

Not so with larger cooperatives, Here, responsibilities increase innumber and importance and can bring innocent misunderstandings that can be costly in money, moral support, patronage, prestige, volume, and other things of value,

So, each group must first of all know the responsibilities which are its alone, as well as those which fall specifically to other groups. With responsibilities that overlap,, the

12







important thing is that they be assumed by someone; each group cannot sit back and wait for the other groups to take over. Each group needs to know exactly where its responsibility and authority starts and stops.


Meetings are good examples of activities where the responsibilities may be shared by members, directors, and employees alike. Here, careful planning and detailing of particular functions to particular groups or individuals is the only solution. Without such planning, you will likely have chaos.


As an example of sharing responsibilities, Southern States Cooperative members hold about 400 local annual meetings a summer and more than 10,000 members serve on committees -- each with his own specific responsibilities,


Where everyone knows and carries out his responsibilities, there is projected a picture or image of efficiency that bespeaks successful operations, and promotes good relationships between all groups.
C omoow
Membership P:rog:ra:m)

Good member relations do not just grow like Topsy. They are the result of a carefully planned, well-executed membership program, Like avolume13










5th Eastern Member Relati









100 Vo"

rf43 Ii ueOtfol gp

/



Out of his years of experience in membership r Richmond, Va., Luther E. Raper has distilled tha members -- the stones he points to

building or advertising program, it must first have the blessing of the directors and of top management. Funds to conduct membership programs should be provided in the organization's budget on an equal footing with funds set aside for other operating programs.

A member relations program is a istant operation... not just something to be carried out when there's nothing else important to do; or even through a one-shot series of meetings or mailings.

Getting out and working with mem14










is Gonerenceo 196?t


















ion activities for Southern States Cooperative, eppin. stones for success in working with farmer an discusses in this publication.

bers, meeting with them, answering their questions, helping them understand the cooperative and its importance to them, helping them solve their problems, listening to their wants and their complaints, building friendship and cooperation -- all these build support for the cooperative and make for
sound member relations.

Regardless of the success of an
organization, it will be even more successful and give more and better services any time steps are taken that result in more knowledgeable and understanding members. It's easier to sell farmer cooperation than

15






services and commodities. Those 'Who truly "buy" cooperation will use more,,of their cooperative's services.

There are many sound approaches to building good membership programs -- meetings with members, board-sponsored commodity or service p romotions de monstrations and spe cial days for the women and the young people, surveys conducted by the local board, cooperative quiz programs to,,. promote better knowledge of the co-op, self-help activities where members call on other members to ask their support, letters over board members' signatures urging increased support, articles in the, cooperative's membership publication, direct mail, newspaper articles, and radio and TV programs to promote the public'Is knowledge of the cooperative business,

The secret of all this is to keep members, their activities, desires, and accomplishments at the heart of every such project. The more members "in the act," and the more active the individual members in any program, the better the results.

Southern States has used two recent member-related activities to strengthen relationships. In one, members at local meetings were asked to sign "agreements" to visit at least two farmer-neighbors each, discuss the cooperative, and ask their neighbors to join them in using their cooperative more. Over -6,0.00 signed the cards, indicating they'd visit 20,000 other farmers. Obviously, a lot of vis~iing.

16






was done and some good relationships established. Too, some extra business volume was obtained.

The second activity consisted of local board members signing "1selfhelp" letters which told how increased volume at certain plant operations would lower operating costs and make increased savings for everyone. Those receiving the letters were asked to put more of their buying through the cooperative. Of some 400 local boards, 231 signed the letters that were then sent to their mailing lists.


Equitable Treatment

The early cooperatives prided themselves on equal treatment for everyone -- same prices, same services, same costs. But as operations grew, as some farms grew larger, it soon became obvious that the policy of treating members equitably was much fairer than merely giving them "equal" treatment. For example, why should a-member buying 100 tons of feed pay the same price a ton as the man buying one ton when the cost of handling the 100-ton order was certainly not 100 times as much.

The principles of volume buying and getting economies through mass purchasing are woven throughout American economic life. Why then should a cooperative deny these advantages to one of its members simply because he has a larger operation than his neighbor?

17






Better to treat each member equitably -- in line with the services used and rendered - than to stick to "absolutely equal" prices and treatment and lose the member to another supplier who will give discounts and.volumeservices at lower cost.

Besides, it's often the volume of the larger farmers that makes itpossible for the cooperative to operate as economically as it does. So in the long run, the small farmer who pays a bit more for his one bag of feed benefits, too.

The important thing is to (1) establish such services on an equitable basis -- known to all members -- and
(2) inform members how and why this is important, fair, and necessary to every member, large or small. It was the small farmer who built many of our cooperatives. and if he is taken into your confidence, he will be first to recognize that "equitable" treatment for all members is to be ,preferred for the good of, the cooperative, its future, and himself,

Here's a case where promotion of better understanding improves relationships between the cooperative and its members. It also helps avoid complaints of favoritism, unfairness, and the loss of unhappy members of the "large" variety who can't afford cooperative services unless they are truly equitable. There's no place- in ,cooperatives for "under the table" special deals. Any deal so goodthat you want to keep it a secret should

18






be publicized and used as a pace setter, in the interest of all members,

To give special price or other advantages to the shopper or price buyer is to encourage loyal members to buy outside to qualify for the preferential treatment.


(Quality Products

To the title of this stepping stone might well be added the words "At Fair Cost." For without recognizing the close -relationship that eists between quality and price, we have trouble defining what is meant by "quality" products.

Most cooperatives were organized because farmers wanted better quality supplies and service, better products for the market, or wanted to save money. But because quality must be related to the value of the st..-vice or the products to the farmer, this great
-"want" of the early cooperative member became "the best quality products at the best possible price."~

Value-in-use, we often call it -getting the highest quality for the money spent or getting the highest possible price for a given quality.

When a cooperative offers the most for the "money," guarantees quality, and treats members equitably, you can generally be sure of getting your money' s worth. But, the reputation a cooperative builds comes through19






by sticking to this policy year in, year out for a long pe riod. Good reputations are not quickly established but may be destroyed in a moment,

It is not always possible for a cooperative to have the best or the lowest price. Often items of higher quality could be obtained if the patron were willing to pay the higher price. But if the item gives fair service in return, for the amount of money put into it by the member or consumer, then he is satisfied and looks kindly -on the cooperative,

There are times when the member should raise his sights on quality --when something a little bit more expensive, or a better product or service, can bring more return to him, .Then the cooperative has an obligation to try to "up-grade" the member in his buying, grading for, market, or giving services to urge that he invest a little more to "get a little, more." If he takes the step and,. is satisfied, then you have taken another step in solidifying a good relationship,

Meeting "Price competition, 11 -or getting a higher price because members insist on it, is often a problem for some cooperatives. Membersmaywant to buy "low" and insist that their cooperative provide an item or service to meet a competitor's price.

If this must be done through reduction in quality, then the cooperative owes it to all members to inform them of what is being done ... to warn that 20






the item or service carrying the lower price is also of lower quality.




To satisfy auditors and to furnish directors, management, and creditors with the facts and figures they need, it' s almost certain that accurate dollarand-cents records will be kept by any well-run association.

Mishandling accounts can be costly in dollars and relationships. You only have to mail a member one, two, or three incorrect statements until he begins to doubt the efficiency of his cooperative; and perhaps the honesty of the employees. But when an error is made,. records should be adequate enough to make possible a prompt correction.

Another part of the member relations job is attention to keeping mailing lists current, to be sure of one listing for stock acquired over a period of years. Keep in mind that a man who gets three checks addressed to him in three different ways finds it hard to believe his cooperative is very efficient or needs his vote.

But aside from the dollar s-andcents records, what about a cooperative's menibership records? Do records make it possible for you to really know your members who, after all, furnish practically all the business, and most of the capital? Do you know' who they are, where they are, what
21






Iheir investments are, the important capacities in which they have served their cooperatives and agriculture through the years? Or, do you slight these facts and keep better records of the lowly penny than of the personmember?

Do you remember the charter members and former. directors? Do, you invite them to meetings and honor them in some way once in -a while?

Do your records readily reflect the names of stockholder -members who may have strayed away ... and what do you do about it? Do you just forget about the m ... or do as we did at one local cooperative last year? The manager sat down and wrote short, friendly personal letters, telling them they had been missed, that the cooperative was still anxious to serve them, and inviting them back. In this particular case, at the end of 3 months, the local had recovered the patronage of 21 of the 90 farmers 'to whom the letter was mailed,

And what did these returnee "prodigals" tell us? That their names-had been dropped from our mailing lists when their purchases during the previous year had droppedbelow an arbitrary figure. That they no longer received the me mbe r ship magazine or any infor -nation about the cooperative. That they felt their cooperative had forgotten them so, why should they bother?

True, these marginal members may never swell your business volume tre'22.






mendously; but the influence they have on their friends who might become large users and on public relations is more important. A chance word that the cooperative had apparently forgotten them is no boost to your member relations.

No one quarrels with thephilosophy of cooperative growth through seeking new members. But let's not forget the old and present members. They are very important. They are the cooperative. Don't neglect them,


(ZGolod Service)
-"M
The stepping stone of good service is obvious. Along with adequate capital, modern facilities, trained personnel, good quality, fair prices, and other desirable assets., a cooperative must give its members good service to serve its full purpose. This service must be good enough to attract sufficient volume to assure efficient operations,

Here personnel is very important. And here are some things I believe members expect their hired personnel to do and be:


1. Show a desire to be of service 'to members.

2. Be friendly and courteous.

3. Be of good character -- clean,, honest, truthful, loyal,

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4. Fulfill all promises made -- be! trustworthy,

5. Be punctual.

6. Be informed about supplies and services.

7. Be accurate.

8. Give sound advice.

9. Abide by board policies.

10. Give equitable treatment.

11., Correct mistakes gladly.

Ownership,, member consciousness, voluntary use, loyalty, and even a basic belief in cooperative, principles have little significance to the stockholder-t member who finds his cooperative's service so poor he can't afford to use it.


[ Understandling Public


Getting the public to -understand what cooperative members already know -- or should know -- that cooperatives are a legitimate part of our economic system remains one of our. most serious problems.

Some of the areas we need to pay most attention to are:

1. Since public relations, like charity, begin at home, we should not 24







stop until every member, every director, every employee knows and understands the need for cooperatives, their aims and purposes, how they operate in the interests of farmers, how they contribute to the general welfare, and how they're a part of our American free enterprise system. Until members, employees, and directors know and understand these facts, how can we expect others to understand them?

2. Let"s keep the chani els of communication with the public -- newspapers, radio, television -- informed about cooperatives, what they're doing, why they exist. Too often, the tendency is to wait until we're attackedbefore recognizing that. we should distribute some information about the cooperative, do some advertising., or present some programs.

3. Though we term cooperatives "as American as apple pie.." they do operate differently than other types of businesses, Since proprietary business is heavily predominant in our world, the general public isex
1 posed more to
this type of operation than to the cooperative way of doing things. Thus the public gears its thinking and shapes its concept of business toward our competition.

Thebest antidote for such a situation is to maintain our positions., to state our case'. to educate our members and our employees to do likewise and keep everlastingly at the job of telling the same story -- over and, over again,

25






4. Work to unite agriculture. The greatest deterrent to an understanding of American agriculture and cooperatives lies in the disunity that exists within and among agricultural organizations. So how can we -- in goodconscience -- blame a general public for showing disinterest or paying little attention to the problems of an industry so disunited that' it can seldom agree fully on what its problems real ly are let alone their solutions ?

5. If cooperatives want to be respected in the business community, they must be a part of that community. Their employees will have to join the local service club, work for the United Givers Fund, join the voluntary, Fire Department, advertise in the high school annual, get members for the Chamber of Commerce.'

Their directors and management will have to be willing to accept speaking engagements before regional and national groups, attend industry-wide gatherings and avoid contact with only cooperatives and cooperative people as this can cause them to become inbred in ideas, philosophies,. and actions.

What has all this to do with better member relations? The image of a business that. is accepted in a community because the people in it really are a part of the community is a good image. It's a business that people like to patronize. Its reputation is good and spreads rapidly. And its ,members appreciate it. Any step s

-26,






toward solving or improving conditions in these five categories can build a better cooperative image for us all.

So much for the stepping stones to better member relations.

In conclusion just what are the bases, or foundations, on which we can lay these stones and go forward toward building better and more useful cooperatives ? After more than 30 years of pleasant work and associations in the cooperative field, I have come to believe that:


1. Most farmers believe in the basic principles of farmer cooperation.

2. Fully informed members will support their cooperative with their patro nage if it gives good and efficient service and they are convinced ithelps them,

3. Confidence and understanding are more important in maintaining good member relations than are brand names and prices.

4. People trade, with cooperatives for about the same reasons they trade with competition. They like the personnel -- feel they get a square deal -get good and courteous service.

5. The member who is really sold on his cooperative trades with it. The fellow who is sold on the competitor trades'with him.

27







6. It's not what member's read or what they are told, but what they understand and believe how they feel inside -- a thing of the heart -that. finally determines (1) the support they give their cooperative... and
(2) their organization's future,

Finally, I believe these things I've been talking about have been,. are, and will continue to be, among the important stepping stones to good member relations,

































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UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


3 1262 08500 2409

Other Publications Available


How Women Help Their Farmer
Co-ops. Circular 15. John H.6 Heckman and Oscar R. LeBeau.

Making the Most of Your Co-op Annual
Meeting. Circular 22. Oscar R.
LeBeau and French M. Hyre.

Membership Practices of Local Cooperatives. General Report 81.
Oscar R. LeBeau.

Exploring Communication Processes in
a Farmer Cooperative -- A Case Study. General Report 97. James H.
Copp and Irwin W. Rust.

Suggested Steps for Improved Member
Relations. Information 12. Oscar R.
LeBeau,




A. copy of each of these publications may be obtained while a supply i s available from


Information Division
Farmer Cooperative Service
U. S. Department of Agriculture
Washington 25, D. C.