October 9, 2018
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

Once a year, the landscape and nursery associations surrounding the Great Lakes get together to exchange ideas and help each other get better at serving their membership and the profession. It truly is a “club for mutual benefit and improvement.”

The format is simple. The president, vice president and executive director from each of the participating associations sit around a table and speak to a number of prepared agenda items. At this year’s conference, one of the topics was, “What is your value proposition to attract and retain membership?” Here is how I answered that question.

How to attract new members

If you become a member of Landscape Ontario and actively participate in the programs, events and activities, we can guarantee you enhanced prosperity. In my position, I have observed this for over 29 years. At the core, we are each other’s prosperity partners. Our definition of prosperity is broad and includes financial, social, professional and legacy growth. We are a club for mutual benefit and improvement, coming together to develop and support each other. Our goal is to become better businesses, build a healthier profession and enhance our communities via who we are and what we do. Our collective vision is a prosperous, professional, valued and contribution-oriented profession.

How to keep current members

Landscape Ontario has enjoyed a steady increase of members for many years. Our retention rate is quite high. One of the main reasons we keep members is because they are engaged in the activities and events of the association. Each year, hundreds of members volunteer their time and expertise to sit on various chapter boards, sector groups and committees. I am in awe of the participation of our members because I know how busy they are in their own businesses. We are focused on enhancing the lives of our membership in everything we do. When members leave, it is usually because they don’t see the value in finding the time to participate. Unfortunately, value is unlocked through participation and engagement.

Our highest valued benefit

Because everyone is unique, it is difficult to say what the greatest benefit is to being a member in LO. Our member benefits can be subdivided into four main areas:

Financial benefit. Our member savings programs (affinity programs, discounts, preferred member pricing, etc.) is the easiest way to attract new members. Many new members join simply to save at least $15,000 off the price of a new vehicle. Last year, members collectively saved over $9 million on these programs alone.

Social Benefit. Many companies join LO for the social interaction it provides them. Business ownership is lonely. It is important to be in the company of others with similar experiences, interests and challenges.

Professional benefit. Many join LO because they want to be better and more competent, both at the technical aspects and business aspects of company ownership. They are involved to learn and improve. They want to be part of a professional organization that represents their values of quality and customer service. They want to be on the leading-edge of information, trends and knowledge. They want their businesses to grow. Being in the company of others with the same desire is “Professional Development” at its best.

Legacy benefit. There are many members (especially in governance) who really don’t need the association in order to be more successful. They are often the most engaged. They are the ones who win the awards. They want to make the profession better because of their contribution values. They want to be involved in being a part of something larger than themselves that will ultimately outlive them. They want to leave a legacy.

What benefit has the highest value for you? Why are you a member?

Canada Blooms

Each year, Canada Blooms inspires the public by showcasing what we do and who we are. It is often said that landscape and horticulture has an image problem and that it is not a desirable career choice. Any visitor to Canada Blooms can easily see the skill, art, passion, creativity, professionalism and innovation that resonates throughout the green professions.

Most people don’t realize that Canada Blooms is a not-for-profit organization that exists to promote, inspire and educate the public. Proceeds from Canada Blooms are allocated to community-related horticultural projects. For this reason, sponsorship is a crucial part of the annual festival’s success. Past presenting sponsors have included Loblaws and Home Depot. This year, we are proud to announce the presenting sponsor will be Mark’s Choice. The theme of the festival for 2019 is “Family Affair.” It is fitting that the heart of the Mark’s Choice brand is father and son, Mark and Ben Cullen. The partnership is perfect because both Canada Blooms and Mark’s Choice brands are aligned and unified by a passion for horticulture.

Green Street Challenge

Have you ever wanted to close down Main Street and put up a park? This is exactly what the Come Alive Outside Green Street Challenge did in eight cities this past summer. Have a look at this YouTube video to see how it was done: gfl.me/h4cC.

Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at tony@landscapeontario.com.