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TMCNet:  YMCA partners with iMember Group to gain memberships

[October 23, 2012]

YMCA partners with iMember Group to gain memberships

Oct 23, 2012 (Newton Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Foot traffic into the Newton YMCA has increased in the last week, thanks in large part to two staff members from the iMember Group, a southwest Florida-based consulting firm that specializes in helping YMCAs across the country generate new memberships.

"Since Maytag left we've been struggling with memberships. We've held our own, but it's been a struggle to get new memberships," said Jessica Lowe, marketing and membership director at the Newton Y.

The local non-profit organization has undergone several changes in recent months -- including the addition of an on-site child care center, completely refurbished gym and racquetball court floors and a fresh coat of paint in the pool and on a few walls -- with other improvements in the works, such as a new meeting room and aerobics center. But none of that helps if no one is there to experience the renovations.

So the Y decided to start being proactive and bring the iMember Group on board once staff members heard of the organization at a leadership conference in Des Moines.

"There was a session about membership drives hosted by another YMCA in Iowa that had used this company previously ... which was the first step in checking it out," Lowe said. "I was told about it and I called Dan Haynes at the Nishna Valley YMCA in Atlantic, and he had nothing but positive things to say about it." For more than a week now, iMember Group's call center has been calling every single Jasper County resident with the goal of generating community interest and support of the Newton Y.

"Being more aggressive and reaching out to our community and the outlying communities is very exciting to me," said Tom Vanderlaan, executive director at the Y. "iMember has been great to work with and they are very professional. They know what YMCAs are all about and want to see us do well." Residents who come to the Y after receiving a phone call can ask for Kevin Shephard, director of operations with the iMember Group, or Chris Kuhn, sales associate, who then will give a 15-minute tour of the facility. At the end of the tour, folks will be offered the opportunity to join the Y at an incentivized rate -- and get two free weeks regardless of whether they join.

"We want people to know that it is a real thing, there's no catch. When they call and offer you a two-week membership we want you to try it out," Lowe said of the membership drive. "Everyone who gets a call is welcome to get their two weeks free. They take a tour and see all that we offer, get to meet the staff and if they want to hear about the special rate that we're offering and take part in it, great. If not, they still get their two week pass." "We're business in a bottle. We come in and basically replicate what they (the Y) would do in a 12-month period over 6 to 8 weeks," Shephard added. "We don't want anybody to think that this is a sales pitch so much as get to know the Y again. A lot of folks don't come out and take advantage of the Y because they don't know what it has to offer. This gives them an opportunity to come in." Shephard and Kuhn will be assisting the Y with its membership drive until roughly the end of this year. For more information, contact the Y at (641) 792-4006.

Amy Martens can be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 426 or via email at

___ (c)2012 the Newton Daily News (Newton, Iowa) Visit the Newton Daily News (Newton, Iowa) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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