America, the land of plenty. Plenty of opportunities, plenty of natural and human resources and yes, plenty of automobiles.
I was a businessman in the United States for some years and learned about the Automobile Association of America (AAA), sometimes called Triple A. I was astonished to see how many paying members the AAA has today – 52 million members in North America.
Started in 1902 by nine motor clubs with fewer than 1,500 members, it now has almost 35 percent of the driving population in the United States and continues to grow, served by 1,100 offices and a network of more than 40,000 full-time employees.
The AAA has its own network of 8,000 approved auto repair shops that have certified mechanics assuring members of prompt and reliable service for their vehicles. The AAA also offers car insurance to its members with affordable premium rates.
Driver Education from Child Passenger Safety to Teen Driving Safety, School and Pedestrian Safety and Senior Drive Safety, are all covered by the AAA program giving its members access to the correct and safe driving education program.
The AAA Charges between P2,100 to as high as P4,300 and just like its counterpart in the Philippines, the Automobile Association Philippines, offers a Roadside Assistance Program as one of its many membership benefits. AAA has the largest travel agency in the US ensuring its membership of travel benefits like cheaper airfare, car rental discounts and discounted hotel rooms all over the country.
Now, realize that all these benefits are derived from the scale of its membership. There are trade associations in the US that have just 5 percent the number of AAA members but offer similar benefits. Economies of scale is a wonderful thing!
Just like any association with a membership of this size, AAA works with the local and federal government through its own lobbyists in Washington to ensure its members’ interests are protected and further enhanced.
There are so many similar benefits that our own Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) offers for lesser annual membership dues. AAP is no longer the go-to place to call just for Emergency Roadside Service. It’s more than that. I will just mention some of them: tour packages through AAP Travel, car and fire insurance at discounted premium rates for members, car rental, the AAP-Goodyear Auto Care Service Center providing repair service at discounted rates, also tires, batteries and accessories at lower prices. And of course, for those leaving to work overseas, the International Driving Permit.
By the way, AAP members when they travel to the US can avail of the discounts that AAA members enjoy at retail outlets, restaurants, hotels, airlines and more.
The back of the AAP membership card has the AAA logo to guarantee this privilege.
But here’s the challenge. How do we increase current membership of AAP to a realistic 500,000 or less than 10 percent of the number of registered motor vehicles in the country?
By identifying the major driver in membership sign-up and matching this with a good membership experience, offering the right products that will benefit the members, we will rely on word of mouth for our membership to grow. Value for money will be emphasized so that one who becomes a member does not mind paying the annual membership dues because just like the giant AAA, the AAP offers similar benefits and experience. And we will focus on our younger car driver population.
So next time you need towing service, call AAP. But remember that AAP is not just for towing, but for much more.