The Black Car industry in New York City (“NYC”) has a trade association named the Black Car Assistance Corp (“BCAC”). The Livery industry in NYC has a trade association named the Livery Round Table (“LRT”). Taxi drivers in NYC have a trade association named the Taxi Workers Alliance (“TWA”) and the Luxury Limousine sector has the Limousine Association of New York (“LANY”) and there are others. Since their formation, the BCAC, the LRT, and the TWA has helped create and pass important legislation, become a recognized and respected voice in Albany, and built solid working relationships with the NYC City Council as well as the New York City Taxicab & Limousine Commission (“TLC”).
For the most part, all aspects of the For-Hire Vehicle (“FHV”) industry in NYC have a trade organization to represent their interests EXCEPT one. The Fleet Owners in the NYC FHV industry have no trade organization, no vehicle to further the interests of fleet owners and no group to go to when this sector of the industry needs to be heard. In other words, the Fleet Owners in the NYC FHV industry have no voice. The BCAC, LRT, TWA, and LANY have interests that differ from Fleet Owners. So, in the end, no other trade organization is out there to represent and protect the interests of fleet owners.
COVID19 has brought certain harsh realities to the FHV market. I don’t need to detail them here for you as most of the people reading this blog have probably already heard me preach the need to get involved, the need to organize the need to have a voice, and have your voice heard. Let’s be honest. The only way to get a seat at the proverbial bargain table is to have two things: First is power in numbers. Without a trade organization, you have no grouping by which the elected leaders can or will deal with. Individual fleet owners, whether big or small, represent such a small part of the FHV industry that elected leaders and regulators typically don’t meet with. Second: you need competent representation. That representation comes in the form of two entities: First is legal counsel and second is a lobbyist. Lobbyists are professional advocates that work to influence political decisions on behalf of organizations. This advocacy can lead to proposing new legislation, or the amendment of existing laws and regulations. You don’t get a seat at the bargaining table with the TLC or the transportation committee of NYC City Council without a lobbyist.
I have offered my services free of charge. I am willing to form a not-for-profit trade organization to represent fleet owners, set up the organizational struct, get it off the ground, and whatever else it takes to give fleet owners a voice. What we don’t yet have is enough fleet owners who either understand the need of a trade organization or don’t want to get involved. If a fleet owner does not want to get involved, it makes no sense to me, but that is their prerogative. If you do want to get involved and do want to have your sector of the industry have a voice, then contact me ASAP. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I am willing to help do what I can to strengthen the industry and to represent fleet owners as a group. If you are willing to take action and get involved, whether on a small scale or a large scale, then contact me. If you don’t want to get involved, then don’t come crying to me when your business falls on hard times or when the TLC enacts regulations that are against your interests. If you want more information about what trade originations do, then read the below or do your own research.
Being a member of a trade association involves much more to it than you would believe. Many businesses and individuals join these trade associations in hopes of receiving a specific benefit or achieving a goal, only to find that the organization has many more benefits and holds much more opportunity than previously imagined. Of course, these specific benefits will vary depending upon the specific industry with which the organization is associated, but there are some advantages of membership in trade organizations that are universal.
Because it is important to get the most out of memberships and unlock all the benefits that these trade associations must offer, it is important to understand exactly why businesses and entrepreneurs join them in the first place. While the motivation for joining a trade association may vary according to the needs of the person or company, here are some of the top benefits to membership in trade associations and how the most successful members are able to take advantage of all of them.
This is the most common and most obvious benefits of joining a trade association. In every industry, who you know matters, and trade associations are filled with potential contacts, clients and partners who can help your business move to the next level and become more prominent in your industry. The members of trade associations– particularly the more active members– are able to build long-term relationships and partnerships that are mutually beneficial. They provide a forum for like-minded individuals to come together to share ideas, strengthen ties, find new jobs and make connections that would not be possible without the association.
2.Training and Education
Continued education and development is crucial in getting to the top of any industry. If your company is already a leader in the field, education is a key to remaining on top. This is especially true in any industry that involves a high level of technology, which almost all do in the fast-paced modern world. Professional associations usually hold events with seminars, workshops and classes that help members to learn and grow in their profession. Even outside of these official events, members have constant opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and mentorship that allow members to share experience and knowledge.
One of the key benefits of joining a trade association is the ability to support the mission of the organization and possibly influence legislation that affects the industry. The combined resources of the members of an association can be used to lobby lawmakers and sway public opinion more positively towards the goals of the association. With the increased level of government regulation in many industries, this is an absolute necessity for the survival of all businesses in the field.
Membership in a trade association means immediate access to any news or developments that affect your business and the industry. Outside of the usual communication of members to each other, associations generally provide newsletters, email updates and informative resources that help its members stay on top of recent developments in the field.
5. Best Practices
Any line of work has a specific set of best practices that is vital to efficient, quality work. Especially for anyone new to the industry, membership in a trade association is vital to learning these practices and performing the best work possible. The fast pace of technology and market competition means that these practices are constantly updating and changing, and it is important to take advantage of any practices that can improve your business.
6. Exchange of Ideas
Not only do members have access to information about updates to the industry, they can also play a large role in determining these changes. Trade associations provide a forum for members to share ideas and develop new ways to improve the industry. This allows for more experienced members to help newer ones grow, and provides the opportunity for all members to share innovative ideas that can help the association.
Aside from all of the professional benefits that are available through trade associations, they also provide an opportunity for members to build friendships and personal relationships that can last a lifetime.
These are just some of the most common benefits of membership in all trade associations, and there are many others that are specific to each industry or business. According to recent research, over 85 percent of businesses that fail are not members of a trade association. No matter the industry, trade associations give their members many advantages in a fast-paced, competitive world.
By: Steven J. Shanker, Esq.