A well-known television commercial suggests that we "reach out and touch someone," and SCBA staff took that message to heart starting this past June by making more SCBA members' phones ringing all over the country than ever before. Thirty-eight staff members took on the pleasurable task of becoming personal contacts for members of SCBA who we may not hear from on a regular basis.

We call this dynamic new program "Keeping In Touch," and that's what we aim to do.

Here is how it has worked. Each staff member was given 40 to 50 member institutions to call. Members were asked for their candid assessment of SCBA and its products and services and legislative and regulatory initiatives. In other words, we asked members how we were doing as their national trade group.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. We received feedback on a variety of products and services including SCBA's credit card programs, publications, insurance products, technical services, education programs, endorsed vendors, meetings and government relations program.

To ensure that we responded to member concerns or requests for more information based on the initial call, staff members were not allowed to "complete" the call until the staff member or another person at SCBA responded to the member.

The program began in June and virtually all of the calls have been completed. And the response has been terrific. We're hearing: "This is a great program, a really good idea." One member liked it so much he said, "We might try this at our place and see how it works with our customers!"

Keeping In Touch has also provided an opportunity for our staff to get a feel for what it is like for many of our smaller institutions -- the barrage of mail they receive from consulting firms and regulators, and the assistance they count on from SCBA. Having a personal representative at SCBA has made it easier for these institutions to take advantage of SCBA's services by just phoning their new staff contact.

SCBA staff value the relationships they have built and are receiving more requests for products and services from their Keeping in Touch partners.

It is this direct member contact that helps set SCBA apart from other national trade associations.

* SCBA surprised a few of you: "Well, it sure is nice that you folks take the time to call us. I've never had anything like this from other groups I've belonged to."

* SCBA renewed its sense. of responsibility: "We're a small shop, and we don't know what we would do without SCBA publications."

* SCBA empathized: "I get so much mail across my desk, but I count on yours [SCBA's] to tell me what's going on."

* SCBA learned what it's really like out there: "What do you mean, 'Am I coming to the Annual Convention?' We're so small if I took time off to attend we'd have to close!"

* SCBA sympathized: "Cut the red tape!"

So far this year, SCBA has recruited 88 new members.

SCBA knows how important it is to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry What better way than by speaking to each and every member?

For information on becoming a member of the national trade groups that keeps in touch, please call Paul Katz at (202) 857-3135.

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