How many companies do things a certain way just because that is the way they were done in the past? There could not be a worse reason to do things.

You should constantly be revisiting your policies and procedures. That is what ACCA did earlier this year, and it’s paying off for them. ACCA transitioned to a new open membership dues schedule in July.

For the previous 15 years, ACCA had been working under a federated system where contractors could not join the national ACCA association unless they were also members of their state and local ACCA groups. The same rule applied for contractors wanting to join the state association — they had to be a member of the national organization. After June 30, state and local contracting associations were able to control their own membership dues, enroll and renew members, and develop their own strategic plans and benefits. This affected contracting companies in about 40 percent of the country that have businesses in areas with local or state chapters.

In a business that’s all about how many paying members you can gather, it was a gutsy move. When ACCA leaders told me about it at their annual conference last spring, I admit, I was somewhat skeptical of what the results would be. I wasn’t sure if the local dues were holding that many people back, while I figured some contractors wanted just the local organization.

But, to quote my wife, “Kyle was wrong about that.”

Between July and September, new contractor enrollments increased more than 60 percent over the year prior. A lot of the new members are actually former members who’d dropped out over the years but have now rejoined the association under the new structure.

As of today, the organization’s total membership is up 5 percent annually. In addition to the jump in new enrollments, retention rates are holding steady.

“Contractors want an organization that’s committed to serving them nationwide, and they don’t want to have to jump through hoops to support it,” said Phil London, ACCA chairman. “Clearly, contractors wanted open membership because the response has been tremendous.”

While there was some expected confusion during the transition, everything seems to have settled down and is now trending in the right direction. I’ve also talked to a few of the local chapters, and while they had not seen a huge spike in membership, they also did not experience a big decline.

There is a moral to this story. Just because your company has been doing things one way for a long time — maybe 15 years — does not mean that is the right way to do things today.

Situations and customers can change. While this policy might have been a great idea when it was first enacted, it no longer cuts the mustard. Or, better yet, perhaps a better idea has been thought of since the policy was implemented.

This is where new employees become vital. While you’re certainly teaching them a lot during their first few months on the job, don’t forget they can teach you things, as well. They possess a fresh set of eyes that can look at every policy or rule with an open mind. I’m not saying all their ideas will be gold — there will be a few clunkers — but foster an environment where they feel comfortable to speak up and ask why your company does things a certain way.

Take a cue from a forward-thinking organization like ACCA and make sure your company is making decisions for the right reasons instead of just doing things the way they’ve always been done.

Publication date: 11/2/2015

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