Mark Beattie, new business manager, Northgate Vehicle Hire, looks at the benefits of trade associations.
Aligning your business with a scheme, organisation or industry federation can offer gravitas and help your company stand out from its competitors.
With an overwhelming number of associations offering accreditations, partnerships and industry recommendations, how can you be sure that you’re choosing a scheme that meets your needs and will add value?
It’s essential for you to assess what you’re getting for the time and money you invest before signing on the dotted line. Consider what you want to achieve, be it industry recognition, quality approval, a network of professionals to associate with, a heads-up on industry innovations or a combination of the above.
Once you’ve assessed this against your business objectives, you’ll be well placed to choose a relevant scheme.
Within the commercial vehicle industry, there are many reputable and value-adding schemes and bodies.
For example, Transport for London’s Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme offers a range of benefits for businesses of all sizes and isn’t limited just to London.
It has been designed to offer fleet operators as much support and valuable information as possible. This Government scheme offers true value and is free.
However, accreditations don’t work as a stamp of quality or a means of networking without some effort. Instant elevation of status and commercial success will not be achieved by simply adding a logo to your marketing material. Engagement, collaboration, sharing of ideas and listening to peers will maximise any partnership relationship.
Joining an association to become accredited needs careful consideration, planning and thought. Not only is it important to protect your brand reputation but you need to remember that investing time and, in some instances, money into a scheme that offers limited benefits is counterproductive.
If you have an existing partnership in place, ask yourself if it is working as hard as it could for you? Is it helping your brand image? And are you maximising its communications channels so that you are viewed as a valuable member with sensible commentary?