VMCC Membership Survey Report March 2018
Alastair Alexander, President-Elect and Area Rep. for Scotland
A survey was carried out in late 2017- early 2018 of the VMCC membership. A survey questionnaire was sent out to every Club member using the centre pages of the December 2017 Journal as well as appearing on the Club’s website. A total of 1074 questionnaires was returned with 965 being posted to Allen House and 109 being completed on-line. The purpose was to establish your reasons for being a member, your views on how well the Club met your needs and any changes or improvements you considered the Club could bring in. The findings were essential to the Management Committee, and to you as individual members, to help guide and shape the development and delivery of future plans. A survey return of over 1000 responses from a population size of just over 14000 is believed to give results that are around 97% accurate. In view of this, the results provide a reliable indication of the opinions of the VMCC membership as a whole.
1 Membership Profile
1.1 The membership is 98% male and 2% female. The membership is heavily skewed towards the older age groups with 45 % being older than 71 years of age, 27 % between 65-70, 11 % between 61-64, 13 % between 51-60, 3% between 41-50 and 1% between 31-40. There are no members under the age of 30 years.
1.2 Ninety percent of members indicated that they were active riders.
1.3 There was a healthy interest in all of the age classes of machine. The Early Classic (1951-70) is of interest to 70% of members followed by the Pre-war Class (1931-50) with 59%. The figures for the other classes were as follows : Vintage (1915-30) 40%, Late Classic (1971-93) 35% and Veteran (pre-1915) 16% of members.
1.4 The Survey asked for information on the country of origin of the motorcycles of interest to the member. British motorcycles topped the responses with 82 % of members , followed by Japanese 31 % , German 31 % , Italian 28%, American 9% , French 6 % and other countries of origin 6% of the members.
2 Reasons for Being a Member
2.1 Top of the list of reasons was the VMCC’s Journal with 80% indicating it as important to them along with 35% valuing the free adverts benefit. The camaraderie of the Club (68%), being a part of VMCC Section life (61%) and organised runs (63%) all underlined the importance of the social side of vintage motorcycling within the Club.
2.2 Information services of one sort or another were also strong reasons for being in the Club with the Calendar of Events and the Annual Calendar (39%) , machine dating (33%), Library services (29%), and the machine history and dating service (29%) featuring in responses. The Club’s video library was recorded as important by 5% of respondents.
2.3 The insurance scheme was important to 21% of the members and the retail operation returned 23%. Big events which were led by a Section such as Stanford Hall and the West Kent International were seen as benefits by 31 % and those organised by Allen House like The Banbury and the Festival of 1000 Bikes by 26 % of members . British Historic Racing, grass track, sprint and other racing activities were seen as a benefit by 13 % of members.
2.4 The VMCC having a strong voice on current and future transport regulations affecting old motorcycles was seen as a very important reason (54%) for members to be in the Club. The final benefits were technical support 24 % , retail services 23 % and the training days 8% of the membership.
3 The Importance of the Sections
3.1 A two thirds majority (62 %) indicated that they attended Sections with a third (36 % ) who did not attend.
3.2 Members who indicated that they did not attend Sections were then asked questions regarding why they did not attend. Three hundred and ninety members replied to this question and the following results are percentages based on this total. Logistics emerged as a big issue with too far to travel scoring 29 %, insufficient number of members in my area 5 % and cost of travel 4 %.
3.3 Lack of information on Section activities was a problem for 6 %, uncertainty about who to contact 11%, the location of a Section 6 % and my local Section is not active 1 %. Twenty two per cent felt that their needs were met by another Club and worryingly 19 % felt unwelcome when they did attend a Section.
3.4 Twenty percent were not interested in Sections and 6 % did not attend for other unspecified reasons.
3.5 The same group of members were asked what the VMCC could do to encourage them to join in Section activity. It is of great concern that 33 % wanted to be sure of a friendly welcome at Section events. Improved promotion using the internet was raised by 20%, a need for circulation of Section calendars by 16% and better information on Section events by 17%. Good entertainment eg. speakers and demonstrations scored 22% and technical support 17%.
3.6 The VMCC becoming more engaged in developing good relationships with one marque and regional classic Clubs would encourage 13% of this group of members to attend Sections. Some members wanted a new Section established in their area 15% whilst 3% wanted their Section to become more active.
4 Challenges Facing The Club
4.1 Age was seen as the biggest challenge and at both ends of the spectrum. 74% of members saw getting younger motorcyclists to join as the top priority and the advancing age of the membership accounted for 52%. A related challenge was that the skills of the members were being lost (68%) as the older members dwindled in number.
4.2 The cost of motorcycling was influencing the membership with 39% concerned with the rising value of machines, 33% about the cost of gaining a licence, and 31% with the cost of insurance. The present state of the economy was seen as impacting on our motorcycling activities (11%) to a lesser extent. The need to be active on influencing transport regulations was highly rated at 64%.
4.3 Over half of the members (54%) saw it as a challenge to keep all of the age classes of machine active which was closely related to their concerns on the loss of the memberships’ skills as mentioned above (68%). The state of the Club’s finances was a concern for 59% and a need for a clear business plan was identified by 50% of the members.
4.4 Finally, the rise in the use of modern machines (post 1993) on runs was recorded by 26% and competition from other clubs by 23%. Modernising the Club through the internet returned 36% of the members.
5 How to Improve the VMCC Benefits to You as a Member ?
5.1 There were four key themes to the responses to this question and these were legislation, promotion, retail and new activities.
5.2 A strong voice on transport legislation was the top response with 56% of members illustrating concerns about changes affecting the use of older motorcycles.
5.3 Promoting the Club through the national media recorded 41%, greater use of the internet for promotion 41%, Club stands at regional shows 39% and at national shows 33%, improved management communication 34% and more coverage of regional activities was returned by 19% of members. Forging links with other clubs returned 37% of members.
5.4 Retail services were of interest to the membership with 21% expressing an interest in the Club becoming active in selling members’ motorcycles, 19% for the sale of members’ spares and 13% wanted the range of retail items to be improved.
5.5 There was interest in new activities with runs for older bikes 37% and special interest groups on the internet 14%. Technical training workshops appealed to 34% and 21% requested more training days. Nineteen percent saw the loan of Club machines as a benefit. Five percent of the members thought no change was needed.
6 Allen House
6.1 Over three quarters of the members (76%) had not visited Allen House compared to 24% who had visited. The members were then asked if they planned to visit Allen House and the replies were yes 14%, no 52% and don’t know 34%.
6.2 The next question was restricted to those members who had visited Allen House (261 members). When asked why they had visited Allen House 62% visited the Library, 27% met a staff member, 23% had no specific reason, 23% pursued a machine dating application, 21% bought from the retail shop, 20% attended a meeting and 4% collected a Club motorcycle.
7 Encouraging Donations to the VMCC
7.1 Members were asked if they thought that the VMCC should encourage gifts and donations. Fifty seven percent were in favour and 20% did not agree, with 22% returning Don’t Know.
7.2 The next question was confined to those members who agreed that the Club should encourage gifts, legacies and donations (616 members). They were asked how the Club should use such new funding resource.
7.3 The top response was to support recruitment 64% and closely linked to that response was more advertising and PR 33%.
7.4 Retail services were a theme with 42% wanting a valuation service for members’ machines, 26% interested in a service to sell members’ motorcycles, 16% to develop a retail shop and 13% to improve the retail items offered.
7.5 Forty two percent would like to see investment in the Library and 37% wanted investment in training programmes.
7.6 The responses for using donations to invest in the redevelopment of Allen House were 23% which was marginally ahead of 22% to move to a new headquarters.
8 The New A4 Format for the Journal
8.1 The members were asked for their opinion of the new A4 Journal. It appears to have been very well received with members responses of yes 87%, no 7% and don’t know 6%.
8.2 When asked about the nature of the Journal content the members would like to see the top three suggestions being restoration technique features 73%, greater technical content 72% and reports on transport legislation 66%. A need to appeal to younger riders was evident with a desire for more recent classic features 34% and generally more youthful content 33%.
8.3 Some new content changes could be introduced with profiles of businesses 38%, more travel features 22% and more international reports 13%.
8.4 Greater coverage of reports on Areas and Sections 21%, contrasting with 24% wanting less by way of Section Notes. There was interest in seeing more advertising by the trade 31% and by the members23%.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT ?
Please feel free to discuss the findings of this survey with your fellow members and at Section meetings. We need and want your reactions and as much feedback as possible. Speak to your Section Secretaries, your Area Rep., the Directors and the President. Once we have feedback from the consultation with the members we should be in a good position to look at the options for taking the Club forward. At all stages we will keep you fully informed of developments.
The President will give a presentation of the survey findings at the AGM on 4 March 2018.