LeadingAge Gulf States is one of 3 LeadingAge state partners to win special recognition and a host of prizes for its members’ high response to the LeadingAge Member Survey, which closed at the end of August. Other winning state partners are LeadingAge California and LeadingAge Virginia.

LeadingAge Gulf States achieved the highest response rate among a group of 9 of the smallest LeadingAge state partners. LeadingAge National sent 80 surveys to members in the Gulf States and received 64 completed surveys in return, for a response rate of 80%. The survey’s national response rate was 36.61%.

“My secret to success was to be persistent with my members,” says Karen Contrenchis, president of LeadingAge Gulf States. “Sometimes when LeadingAge asks us for something I have to decide if I should call upon my members about it, because I ask them for so much already. But this request was different. I really liked the data that was being collected for this survey. I could see us being able to do a lot with it.”

A Mid-Course Correction Helped

A mid-course correction helped LeadingAge Gulf States pull ahead in its response rate, according to Contrenchis. Early in the survey process, LeadingAge National was sending Gulf States members emails containing a unique link to the surveys they needed to complete. Member response was lackluster until Contrenchis asked LeadingAge National to send her those links so she could pass them on personally to members that had not yet completed the survey.

“It is all about relationships,” says Contrenchis. “I have a very, very close working relationship with my membership. And one of the reasons is that I was on the provider side for 27 years and worked with all of them. I knew if I had the links and I sent out the emails, we would get a greater response. So that’s what I did.”

Armed with weekly status reports from LeadingAge National, Contrenchis started sending weekly emails, complete with links, to any member that had not yet completed the survey. If the national office reported that a member had started the survey but not completed it, Contrenchis telephoned that member to identify the reason for the partial completion. She then worked with the member and LeadingAge National to resolve the issue.

“It just gave them someone they could resonate with,” says Contrenchis about the reason why her email outreach was successful. “You’ve got to understand; many of the staff that were completing the surveys weren’t the CEOs who have a relationship with LeadingAge National. They were their managers. A lot of those managers know me, but they don’t know LeadingAge as much.”

Hopes For The Data

Contrenchis is already looking forward to the information she will receive about members once the survey data analysis is complete.

“I’m hoping that I am going to find a good bit of information that is going to help me with public policy,” she says. “The second thing I want to know is whether there is anything I can do to serve members better, anything I’m missing or that needs to be addressed. That will be good to see. Of course, it will be a discussion I have with my board and they will definitely guide me in what’s the best way to use the data.”

A Different Kind Of Competition

In addition to recognition during the 2019 LeadingAge Annual Meeting & EXPO in San Diego, each of the 3 winning state partners will receive a variety of prizes, including LeadingAge meeting registration certificates, a roundtrip airline ticket to Annual Meeting, a complimentary hospitality suite in the meeting’s host hotel, and a complimentary dinner for LeadingAge state staff attending the meeting.

Each winning state partner will also be treated to a celebration luncheon for staff in the home state, and a presentation on the survey results by Dr. Robyn Stone, senior vice president of research at LeadingAge and co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston.

Contrenchis says the competition for prizes did not enter into her mind, or the minds of members, during the survey campaign in the Gulf states. But a different kind of competition certainly did.
“I told my members that this was something that was really important, and it would be really nice if we could come in first one time,” she says. “And they loved it and became more involved in the process.”

Even though they weren’t actively sought after, however, the competition’s prizes will come in very handy, admits Contrenchis.

“I am one employee and we are very small, and with a small budget,” she says about LeadingAge Gulf States. “So, some of these prizes are just wonderful for the association, especially with the Annual Meeting coming up. Airfare and hotel, that is a big expense for us.”