It’s well known that aligning your business with a scheme, organisation or industry federation can offer gravitas and help your company stand out from its competitors. But, with an overwhelming number of associations offering an accreditation, partnership or industry recommendation, how can you be sure that you’re choosing a scheme that meets your needs and will truly add value? And, how can you maximise the relationship to support your business objectives
As with any partnership, 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 opt for a relevant scheme.
Range of options
Within the commercial vehicle industry alone, there are many reputable and value adding associations, schemes and bodies. Take Transport For London’s Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS); it offers a whole host of benefits for businesses both large and small (and isn’t just limited to London). In fact the scheme has been designed to offer fleet operators as much support and valuable information as possible; from saving companies money on vehicle insurance to acting as a quality benchmark for businesses, the Government scheme offers true value and is completely free.
FORS is just one example of the quality schemes available across the industry, and whilst this particular partnership, with its fleet news updates, traffic alerts, guides on best practice and industry workshops, may be ideal for some businesses, others may require a slightly different service.
Take note however, as 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 materials. Engagement, collaboration, sharing of ideas and listening to peers is how best to maximise any partnership relationship.
Take an honest look at what you’re really able to invest and choose what’s right for your business. Take Northgate for example; as well as being members of the BVRLA, we have recently partnered with Van Excellence. But why did we choose this partnership? Well, Van Excellence provides our clients with the added reassurance that quality is at the heart of what we deliver and communicates that we’re always going above and beyond to stay at the forefront of the industry. It proves that our standards are over and above industry recommendation, we’re attuned to industry developments and that we’re forward thinking. As an association developed by van operators for van operators the link was undeniably strong.
Joining an association or federation 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. You must be sure that the activity you plan to be a part of meets your business objectives and that you are able to fulfil any obligations required.
The right decision
Approach with honesty, integrity and enthusiasm and you won’t go far wrong. Ensure also, that you get the buy in from other parts of your business – you may just find that you need to call upon colleagues to deliver comment, attend events and work on communications. It probably won’t work as a one man show!
If you’re comfortable that you can fully commit, that you have the internal support and you know who you want to align yourself to, simply ensure you have a strategy in place so that a positive outcome is achieved.
If you have an existing partnership in place – ask yourself if it is really working as hard as it could for you? Is it really helping your brand image? Are you maximising its communications channels so that you are viewed as a valuable member with sensible commentary and valuable insight?