NASMM 2016 State of the Association

MKB_NASMM 2016_State of Assoc
NASMM Executive Director, Mary Kay Buysse, delivered the 2016 State of the Association address at the NASMM 2016 Annual Conference at the La Cantera Hill Country Resort in San Antonio, TX on Sunday, February 28, 2016. Photo credit: Dan Slutsky

NASMM 2016
State of the Association Address

Good morning, everyone ~

We hope you’ve enjoyed our wonderful three (3) days together!

They say “Absolutely everything is bigger in Texas,” and we couldn’t agree more.

We hope you’ve enjoyed big bear hugs from old friends & new; robust discussions with colleagues; substantial networking opportunities; and our packed-to-the-max education schedule at NASMM 2016. I mean five (5) amazing pools! Really? Five?

And what about the enormous outside terrace here at the lovely La Cantera Resort?

It’s truly stunning at more than 30,000 square feet! With majestic, panoramic views of the rolling hills and spectacular skyline views from one of San Antonio’s highest points, La Cantera is certainly memorable.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 6.39.15 PMSpeaking of memories, please indulge us for just a few moments of nostalgia: The NASMM 2016 Annual Conference this week is the 10th annual conference Jennifer and I have planned for NASMM!

Wow – so hard to believe! In early January 2007, in Safety Harbor, FL, we met our first NASMM members beyond the nine (9) Board of Directors – whom we had already met in Washington DC the previous summer.

About 150 people attended that first conference in Safety Harbor. It was intimate and invigorating ….and more than a wee bit scary.

Jennifer and I knew then that we had committed to working with some of the most interesting, gifted, compassionate and inspiring people we would ever come to know.

What a ride it’s been! We’ve never looked back, as all of us are creating something quite special together here.

And a crazy coincidental (but true!!) fact: Rafi Mohammed – our NASMM 2016 Master Class speaker on Friday morning – was also our opening keynote speaker (ten) 10 years ago. Needless to say, both NASMM and Rafi have done OK after our first meeting in Safety Harbor, FL.

We look back at this past year as another year of success and carefully managed growth.

You know, a lot of memberships are purely transactional. I’ve been an American Express member since 1981.

I’m also a Marriott Rewards member and a Costco member – I mean, who isn’t? The samples alone are worth the price of membership!

Yes, you & I tote around a keychain full of mini-cards touting our loyalty to this store or that fitness facility, but these affiliations are purely transactional: “Spend more money with us and get points!”

NASMM is different from transactional memberships. Membership in NASMM is not about a simple product or service. It’s about relationships.

  • You have built long-lasting friendships by sharing a room with a total stranger at this or another NASMM conference.
  • You have nurtured a new member colleague by volunteering to be a Buddy at a NASMM Conference.
  • You have helped a fellow member solve a complicated or confusing problem via the NASMM E-List.
  • You have shared one of your most treasured tips via this same E-List, or answered another member’s outreach for help in your area.
  • You have spent many early morning hours on conference calls with your NASMM colleagues because you stepped up to participate on a NASMM committee or task force.

You get the picture. The perks of NASMM membership can’t be contained on a keychain or loyalty card. You take NASMM and our collective expertise to every job every day.

It’s also about trust – trust in us, the staff, but also a deep and essential trust in each other.

You trust each other with something so incredibly precious – your professional integrity and reputation.

While we must always focus on measurements of success  – “Is membership growing?” “Are retention levels rising?” “Are revenues up over last year?”

The answer to each of these questions is a resounding “Yes!”

In fact, if you’re looking for numbers to quantify our success, you can find plenty of them in the NASMM Annual Report on the website.

But these are metrics that have little to do with fulfilling the shared mission of this association.

The NASMM mission, you may recall, is:

  • to facilitate the physical and emotional aspects of relocation for older adults
  • to increase industry awareness, to establish a national referral network
  • to enhance the professional competence of members, and to promote the delivery of our services with compassion and integrity.

Indeed, we can all look back at 2015 and feel proud that we collaborated to accomplish the guiding mission of NASMM.

Maya Angelou said “The ache for HOME lives in all of us – the ‘safe place’ where we can go as we are and NOT be questioned.”

Thank you for helping your older adult clients leave their previous homes and settle into their new homes with competence, compassion and integrity.

Thank you, too, for making NASMM your professional home and for trusting us and each other.

This year, NASMM embarked on many new endeavors which enrich the association and allow us to expand our influence as the leading Senior Move Management organization in the world.

NASMM grew its global footprint with the expansion of our membership into Australia and the growth of our membership in general. We expect to continue this pattern of growth for the next two (2) decades.

The oldest Baby Boomers turn 70 in 2016. Imagine! We have an opportunity, an obligation, and a challenge to lead during one of the most important moments in the history of Senior Move Management.

Like everything else Boomers have encountered during their lives, Boomers will dramatically alter the culture of aging. They – WE! – already are!

We believe, and many of you do as well, that the next several years will be defining years that set the stage for what senior living will look like for the foreseeable future, or for decades.

We live now in a world of media scrutiny and attention that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, particularly with social media, that makes it extremely difficult to avoid controversy.

We can’t and we won’t sit still.

But while we’re embracing change, we also need to stay focused on the core values that differentiate NASMM Senior Move Managers from all others.

We need to be both flexible and adaptable, while we simultaneously remain steadfast to the commitment that we all share in the NASMM Code of Ethics.

Last year, we recognized the NASMM@HOME program required our attention, and we’ve followed through with a comprehensive full-day Pre-Conference Workshop here at NASMM 2016.

Nearly 90 attendees made the time and financial investment this week to attend this significant event.

NASMM@HOME logo-final copyThe NASMM@HOME program, you will recall, is about NASMM Senior Move Managers® assisting older adults & families with the numerous downsizing and simplifying tasks in a current home!

You can apply the same coordinated, compassionate downsizing techniques to helping older adults STAY in their home as you do to help people move.

We are committed to nurturing the NASMM@HOME program so it can grow and expand over the next two (2) years.

Since aging-in-place services are a slight departure from most Senior Move Managers’ usual menu of services, we need to treat it differently.

It requires more education, vendor partnerships, outreach and attention, and we are doing just that.

The bottom line is that: NASMM@HOME has enormous potential for Senior Move Managers over the next few decades.

NASMM-A+-LOGO-1Over thirty (30) companies now hold NASMM’s highest credential – NASMM A+ Accreditation.

They are, quite simply, the best of the best.

The owners of NASMM’s accredited companies have spent countless hours developing and implementing best practices in client services and Senior Move Management operations.

They have put their companies through a rigorous peer-review process, and we honor them for their achievement!

And, this past summer, NASMM reached a new milestone with the launch of this industry’s only professional certification based on both knowledge and experience.

To date, over forty-three (43) NASMM members have obtained this distinction and another forty (40) are in progress. As we heard from Beth Warren yesterday,

Beth Warren_NASMM 2016
“To the outsider, it might seem that credentials are about confirming our competency to others.
The biggest value of the Accreditation and the Senior Move Manager Certification may be confirming competency to ourselves. The more experience we have as Senior Move Managers, the more we appreciate how much we know and how much we need to know – to serve our clients. Credentials don’t sell jobs. Competence sells jobs and competence executes them flawlessly. Credentials confirm our competence.”

I encourage each of you to confirm your own competence by investing in yourself and your company with both Certification and – when you are ready – NASMM A+ Accreditation.

I am reminded of this quote by David Maister, Harvard Business School professor and author, “Professional is not a label you give yourself; it’s a description you hope others will apply to you.”

We are gratified by the positive response to our revised Cornerstone Courses that debuted in 2015.

Can you believe NASMM members have completed over 600 Cornerstone Courses in 2015?

The courses were completely re-examined and revamped in 2015 – with professional narration and precise syncing of the slides to the audio.

Several of our Diamond Society members – those who’ve held NASMM membership for 10 years or more – have commented about the terrific content and presentation of the NASMM Cornerstone Courses and how even they learned something new while taking the courses!

It’s no secret we pride ourselves on our overall communication with you, our members. Phone calls and emails are returned promptly and personally (for the most partlaughing-smiley-face-clip-art-smiley-face-clip-art10)!

The E-List is moderated 24/7 with thought and care. In 2015, we tried to think of even better ways to connect WITH you that makes sense TO you.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 6.41.59 PMTowards that end, NASMM replaced its bi-monthly online magazine, Moving Matters, with a new bi-weekly electronic newsletter of the same iconic name.

In making this change, we are reaching you MORE frequently with TIMELY information that takes LESS of your time to read and review.

So, you will now hear from us (which we know you love) – via Moving Matters – twenty-six (26) or so times per year instead of six (6).

I can see how excited you all are! laughing-smiley-face-clip-art-smiley-face-clip-art10

The AARP-sponsored book, Downsizing the Family Home, by Marni Jameson was released last month. NASMM was featured in almost an entire chapter!

We aren’t just pleased with the quantity of information in the book, but the author GOT us and GOT what Senior Move Management is all about.

Thus, the quality of the book’s content is fantastic and it truly highlights what Senior Move Managers do and how well you all do it.

Honestly, our phone hasn’t stopped ringing since its release. When AARP endorses a product or service, it reaches nearly 40 million people worldwide.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 6.43.41 PMAdditionally, we’ve been blessed with quite a bit of press this year – The Boston Globe, Woman’s World Weekly, US News & World Report,, the Associated Press, and countless regional publications.

We also want you to know about an exciting article in the Sunday New York Times scheduled to run one (1) week from today featuring NASMM and some NASMM members. Can’t wait!

We know it’s hard to believe, but NASMM actually had a Facebook post go “viral” in late December. While we’re no Kanye West quite yet, our aggressive social media efforts have reached over one million individuals since January 1st!

From Facebook to Twitter, LinkedIN, Instagram and the NASMM blog, we continue to maximize our visibility through this ever-changing technology.

The people who are winning at social media within NASMM are doing precisely that.

We know it’s time-consuming and, quite honestly, daunting to constantly load your company social media accounts with interesting, inspiring and timely information about aging and aging services.

But you don’t have to. Simply re-Tweet, share or comment on one of NASMM’s many posts and you’re halfway there.

NASMM has learned quite a bit about social media for small businesses and brands through our own starts and stops of the last 8+ years.

What we’ve learned is creating content is tedious and incredibly labor intensive. We know because we did it.

But what we’ve found is that the ROI on curating content (versus creating it from scratch!) is much greater, more exciting, and more time-effective for busy professionals like all of us.

Providing your followers, friends, and referral sources with meaningful, diverse content will build trust and – over time – lead to MORE clients and MORE referrals.

After all, if you are the one they’re going to for trusted information, why wouldn’t they contact you when they need services they can trust?

One final thought about NASMM, the media, and social media before we move on: Not sure if you all are aware, but NASMM spends an enormous amount of time throughout the year getting the word out about Senior Move Management.

We spend hours, days and (sometimes!) weeks working closely with media people – speaking with them and aggregating all kinds of data and information for their use.

We spend time each and every day reading, rejecting OR publishing, and even creating compelling content on our social media sites for your use.

For every post we publish, we’ve likely read tens of articles or other posts we’re not using. We spend healthy sums of money on Google Adwords and Facebook Ads to drive more eyeballs to NASMM than simple organic searches could possibly provide.

So here’s the deal: YOU need to become pro-active about enlisting interest and excitement in Senior Move Management at the micro level – in your cities, towns, suburbs, churches, and local media outlets.

In tandem with our substantial national efforts, your regional work will pack a 1-2 punch.

And we’ve learned through our own success nationally that “press begets more press.” We’re in this together. If we all put forth the effort, we can’t lose.

As NASMM grows and interest in Senior Move Management expands, we must begin collecting more information about Senior Move Management.

Quite simply, the media is requesting it. More importantly, YOU are all asking for it.

While we publish the Face of NASMM every other year with some statistical data, the primary objective of the newly-created Data Exchange Task Force is to drill deeper into the challenges and successes of Senior Move Management companies.

We hope you will cooperate with our Data Exchange Task Force, led by NASMM Board President-Elect, Katie Hustead of Paper Moon Moves in Brooklyn, NY.

This Task Force will create and implement a wide-ranging survey that will measure all of the information you seek but you also aren’t wild about sharing.

We need real stats – quantifiable information like size, scope, pricing, sales volume, staff size, staff status (employee versus independent contractor) staff salaries, staff training and more.

It’s more than time for NASMM to assemble and aggregate key data points about the Senior Move Management profession.

The Data Exchange effort requires full participation for success – that means new members, somewhat experienced & experienced members as well as very seasoned members. Everyone!

In fact, we feel so strongly about this work that only those member companies participating in the survey will have access to the final, comprehensive results.

We are excited about the possibilities for this survey and look forward to distilling all of the results with you in the future.

While NASMM’s activities are too numerous to detail each and every one in this State of the Association report, we promise that all of our efforts will continue to adhere to the association’s values, and to our vision that we remain the leading advocates of Senior Move Management services in North America and throughout the world.

We thank you for being a part of NASMM, and for helping to keep our promise to our clients and families, our referral sources, and the senior living community at large.

In conclusion, Jennifer and I want to thank you for your ongoing trust in NASMM. NASMM’s richest resource will always be you, our members.

Please remember: The experts are in this room, within these four (4) walls! They are not outside. To quote an old Hopi elder saying, “WE are the ones we’ve been waiting for!”

And, indeed, NASMM is our tribe.

Thank you.

(Click here to view the entire NASMM 2016 Photo Album on Facebook.)

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