March Madness and IHFRA
During the spring Premarket, the Executive Committee of the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association (IHFRA) holds its annual meeting to review the previous year, set budgets and policy for the next year. The following day, the IHFRA Board of Directors meets to approve actions of the Executive Committee and offer guidance where necessary with ideas and opportunities from across the country. Here are a few highlights I thought I would share with you from these meetings.
1. IHFRA is as strong an organization as at any time in this century. We closed last year with over 1,700 members. In the past four years we have increased our membership by 59.6%
2. The major reason for our growth has been the enormous amount of new benefits we provide the membership. Office supply and copying savings from Office Depot, Office Max or Staples alone offset the minimal dues investment. Savings on travel, hotels, computers, professional dress clothing and many things that sales reps and small business owners need are part of the discount programs. New health and liability insurance policies are also a big draw. If you would like any information about how IHFRA can help please email firstname.lastname@example.org. By the way, we have associate members who are retailers, interior decorators, and industry suppliers who join because the benefit package is so good
3. Enhanced membership communication from weekly opportunity center emails with open sales jobs, a monthly newsletter, and an enhanced membership website have all been added and appreciated by the membership.
4. We have closed the last several years with an operating profit that we reinvest into improving benefits for the membership. For example, last year we started an education series with Web4Retail on Ipad training open to all of our members at no charge. One session during market had several hundred people attend.
5. IHFRA is supported by a network of local chapters, many of which sent representatives to the Board of Directors meeting. Over the last several years I have had the good fortune of meeting many awesome, dedicated professional reps from around the country who really care about the organization, the industry, their customers and their factories. It is gratifying to work with people like that. It's one of the many factors that make the furniture business a very familial occupation.
6. The backbone of our operation are the two wonderful ladies who run the office - Kathy Parks and Jennifer Sova. We can't thank them enough for all they do. Please stop by the IHFRA office during market and introduce yourself to them. They can help you get the most out of your membership.
7. The networking and camaraderie that IHFRA and the local chapters afford reps is a very important aspect or the organization given the fact that most reps are sole proprietors and need a support network of peers.
I could go on and on about what IHFRA means to reps. I will tell you as a direct result of my involvement and networking with group members I was able to put together a profitable opportunity that would never have existed without IHFRA. So if you are not a member and want to learn more info about how to join this vibrant growing organization please contact Jennifer or Kathy at email@example.com or by phone at 336-889-3920.
And for those basketball fans who want to know what IHFRA has in common with March Madness, my hometown team Creighton University got to play in the NCAA tourney in Greensboro while I was there. So I left the Executive Committee meeting a little early to catch the game, and the next day I showed up at the Board of Directors meeting to find out they made me IHFRA President for next year. You never want to leave an IHFRA meeting early because you never know what they will volunteer you for.
Seriously though, we have a great slate of officers for this next year on the Executive Committee. You are all invited to the Presidential Gala on Friday April 20 during market where they will all be introduced and we will share some of the great things we are planning for 2012-2013.