Feature: New York: Full Service = Progressive Service
Surveyor's Red Pages - Red Pages 2012
New York State Association of Professional Surveyors meets its members’ needs, and then some.
By Jennifer Mauer, CAE
Success for any association depends directly on the people engaged in it. And there is no greater place to find committed, visionary, and talented leaders than the New York State Association of Professional Land Surveyors
(NYSAPLS). As we approach our 50-year anniversary, NYSAPLS can look back on how much has changed about the profession we represent, yet revel in the unwavering support and dedication we have achieved through decades of outstanding leaders and members.
Unrivaled Customer Service
A large part of our success comes from the partnership between our full-time staff and the volunteer leadership team. The staff mission statement is simple: unrivaled customer service. In an age when technology dominates most interactions among constituents, NYSAPLS stands strong in the belief that personalized service is the only path toward success. We strive to serve as the portal for anything affecting our members’ world. We spend several hours a day researching a topic, finding a consultant, answering licensing questions, searching archives, connecting with retired surveyors, and fulfilling a myriad of other personalized requests.
While it may seem trivial to spend five minutes on the phone with an attorney or a realtor to help him or her identify a survey stamp on a map, it goes a long way in sustaining NYSAPLS’s reputation as a service-oriented provider. These interactions with related industry groups also often translate into business opportunities for our members. That is always a good thing!
Our breadth of leadership experience is an essential ingredient in our success. While the staff play a role in continuity and operational stability, the volunteers commit extensive time and resources at the local, state, and national level to identify new opportunities for growth, seek new benefits to increase membership value, and monitor changes to the survey-profession landscape. Our very own Malcolm Shaw, Robert Prescott, and Charles Hartnett are three current and former leaders of ACSM
who have served to guide the profession on national industry issues. NYSAPLS’s commitment to the northeast state societies showcases our leaders’ desire to work collaboratively with our nearby peers. And the current board engages in regular strategic-planning sessions to ensure they stay ahead of any curves on the horizon.
Progressive Programs and Benefits
We host the second-largest conference in the New England/Mid-Atlantic region, with sellout sessions and sellout social events. We offer seminars twice a year on a host of business and technical subjects. This is a common staple of any industry association; what stands out is NYSAPLS’s willingness to take risks and explore something new.
For more than eight years the NYSAPLS Education Committee heard from members that technicians entering the profession were having extreme difficulties navigating the requirements of licensure. In response, we crafted a program, taught by members of the state licensing board, for field staff to learn about the licensure-application process, how to complete the forms, what types of work experience are necessary, how to best obtain that experience, etc.
That led us to determine that the educational needs of technicians extend further into business planning, employer relations, field-to-finish tasks, and a host of other “basic” programs. So, the committee designed a customized educational track of classes geared only for technician staff, offered at the annual conference with a significantly reduced registration fee. The track was so successful that NYSAPLS started hearing from its associate members that they wanted more!
NYSAPLS spent a year researching the feasibility of designing a licensure exam workshop for individuals preparing to sit for the New York state LS exam. The course fulfilled such a need that we sold out the program in the first two years it was offered and generated enough funds to pay back the investment we made in research and start-up costs. We’ve now expanded our programming to offer a new NCEES exam review with great fanfare.
Throughout all this research of our members’ employees, we didn’t lose sight of our core member base: the licensed surveyor. We offered them new one-hour webinars in topics identified through years of analyzing course evaluations. We use our magazine as a vehicle for educational outreach by identifying editorial-themed issues that also help generate targeted advertising. We use our website as a portal for news items and legislative announcements. All of this contributes to our mission of serving as the “cog in the wheel” for our members—so that they can focus their time and energies on running a successful business or crafting a successful career.
NYSAPLS places grassroots lobbying at the core of its mission. We have successfully lobbied for laws that protect and preserve one of the oldest professions in man’s history. And when we need to engage in member support for/against a bill, our members respond in force, with letter-writing campaigns, phone call campaigns, and local district visits.
Led by our 12-year volunteer veteran Daren Morgan, PLS, the committee stands united on issues affecting our members. Leadership and direction have also come from the 18 regional associations through their vision to create the state association. This network of local talent answers the call from NYSAPLS when member support is needed most.
Run Like a Business
An association’s success comes not just from the financial commitment of its members. It has to rely on non-dues revenue programs that serve as tangible member benefits but also as alternate sources of funding for new initiatives. NYSAPLS operates with the mindset of a small business, making sure our revenues grow annually while monitoring costs. We have a strategic plan that identifies where we want to go, what we want to become, and how we are going to get there.
Our success is driven by the people involved who make it happen every day. We make sure that we recruit new visionary leaders who want to play an integral role in the continued evolution of NYSAPLS. Call us to get more involved in the great things happening in New York State!
Jennifer Mauer, CAE (certified association executive), is managing director of NYSAPLS in Albany, NY. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-432-4046.
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