When CAA North & East Ontario recently achieved the highest membership growth for 2021 for the whole of North America, there was no thunderous round of applause.
After all, outside of the auto club world, it may not seem like a big deal. But inside CAANEO, as it’s known in Canada’s eight club federation, leading North America in growth was just another bit of proof that challenging the traditional way of doing things really pays off.
So, too, was the announcement in early June at the National Annual General Meeting of CAA in PEI that CAANEO had also won both 2021 Best Practices Awards for its changing-making approach to growth and reinventing retail.
“Inside the club, we have spent the past two years asking the hard questions about how to do things in ways that demonstrably improve our operations. It’s been about engendering a collaborative culture, to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts,” says Jeff Walker, CAA North & East Ontario president and CEO.
That challenge-and-change mindset in which teams are encouraged to fail fast, fail often and learn as they level up has impacted every aspect of the business, from its lifestyle brand marketing approach to how it thinks about services for its 335,194 members.
“Our top priorities have everything to do with diversification. Diversification of the business – moving more members into more new business lines, and diversification of our marketing – eliminating direct mail and massively expanding our use of other means of marketing. The results so far have been very promising; our current rolling 12-month membership growth rate is just under seven per cent, so we’re on track to lead the continent in 2022, as well.”
Now, the club is looking to add a new face to its board of directors, to support its growth and increased services to members.
The position, open to primary CAA members over the age of 18 living in the club’s catchment area (from Cornwall to Thunder Bay and Sudbury to Ottawa) calls for a dynamic individual with diversity both in worldview and experience.
In advertising for the role, the club is looking for an individual with expertise in board governance, financial management, as well as experience in the travel, insurance, automotive or banking industries. A background in public policy, marking, partnerships, risk management or business development are also sought.
It’s a tall order, but according to Walker, adding big hitters to the club has been the right approach.
Supported by the existing board of directors, the club has made a series of small winning bets – like installing an award-winning kiosk to Bayshore Mall mid-lockdown in a bold move that proved to be a retail game-changer. The club is also expanding into mobile automotive services – mobile tire swaps, oil changes and chip repairs – and offers members Bike Assist, roadside assistance for the growing legion of bike riders. They are just a few of the “million little things” Walker says has led to the club’s success.
“The single greatest lesson I have learned is that when you bring in the best people, you get the best results. That’s not a cliché,” he says, “it’s true.”
For more information about joining the CAA North & East Ontario board of directors, and to apply by July 24th 2022 at 5 p.m., visit https://caaneo.formstack.com/forms/board_of_director.