Why Does RDIA Emphasize Diaper Services?

Diaper Service discussion

Jennifer Moore Temple (Clean Bee Laundry) and other diaper service owners at 2010 RDIA Cloth Diaper Business Conference

Yesterday someone asked why the association puts so much emphasis on diaper services. I love this question, because the answer gets to the core of how we get things done.

In September 2009, after one year of operation, RDIA had 26 diaper service members. Most of those members joined after a heroic spring/summer effort by Jennifer Moore Temple (Clean Bee Laundry). She was a board member who took it upon herself to recruit diaper services and tell them why they needed a trade association. Jennifer wrote personal notes to diaper services all over North America. Some of you may have joined because you received one of Jennifer’s postcards. We went from 6 diaper services at 6 months to 26 diaper services at 12 months. Now, 36 months after starting, we have 76 diaper services. They are our largest category by far. We are voting on a bylaw change this year to acknowledge their numbers and need for representation.

Back to the question posed, why do we emphasize diaper services? We value diaper services, certainly, but we don’t emphasize them over any other category. Diaper service members themselves make the difference. The board representatives and many volunteers have determined that they are going to improve business conditions. They use their meeting time at the RDIA conference well. They discuss needs and plan projects around those needs.

Two years ago, they established a diaper service business group—completely on their own—to plan projects and get them started. They took project proposals to the board to get support, and they made those projects happen. They saw that our #1 inquiry over the first year was  (and still is) how to locate a diaper service, so they created a directory of diaper services and a diaper service mini website to host it. They found that potential new business owners had a lot of questions about how to start a diaper service, so they created a kit with essential information for a diaper service start-up. The kit is well worth its price tag, and the income helps support the work they and other volunteers do. Diaper service volunteers were also active on the cloth diapers in daycare project because they heard from their customers that parents need cloth diaper resources to take to childcare providers. They created a tip sheet and guide for parents.

This past year, diaper services were more ambitious. They set a goal to investigate an accreditation program for diaper services. They didn’t just investigate, though. They have created the program, and it will be launched at the conference in two weeks. They saw that customers want reassurance of safe, clean diapers, so they set standards businesses can follow to be sure their processing results in safe, clean diapers. Members have to pay to be part of the program, but they save money on testing through a group discount. Again, they saw the need, and they focused on how to meet it. They were ambitious, and their volunteers gave a lot of hours to create a professional program.

Cloth diaper industry members graphic

In two and a half years, we have seen diaper services go from a minor part of the trade association to 46% of our membership. The board of directors didn’t make a plan for this specifically. When volunteers came forward to say that they were prepared to grow their category and meet their needs, the board of directors supported them, paid for the minor expenses of the projects, and provided our administrator for support.

Members made this change. Members became volunteers, and volunteers became leaders.

If you want to witness how far diaper services have come, please attend the Diaper Service Accreditation presentation Tuesday afternoon. If you look closely, you will notice that the chair of this project was not even a diaper service member, but a very active Associate member, Kim Webb of Rockin’ Green. We don’t have to stay within boundaries on our projects. We follow our interests and skills. We are all pulling in the same direction.

If you want to see a change in emphasis within the association, make it happen! The RDIA board would love to support a transformation like this in every member category. Be the change you want to see. Step up to plan and execute projects. On Tuesday, September 28, after the annual meeting of members, members in each category will meet separately to discuss their needs as a group and their plans for the upcoming year. Do you want to talk about specific needs within your category or a project you are ready to make happen? If you want to put the focus within RDIA on your category, your project, or just on recruiting more members, you can.

Just step up and lead the change.

Where Are RDIA Members?

Cloth diaper industry trade members by country

As we prepare the meeting packet for the annual RDIA cloth diaper business conference, we’ve been looking at membership numbers and thought you might find them interesting. Of 175 members on September 1st, we had 158 in the U.S., 16 in Canada, and 1 in Chile. The RDIA membership in the U.S. and Canada tracks closely to the relative populations of the two countries. We’re well balanced in members from each side of the border. Our one member in Chile is Pañales Verdes Chile diaper service. ¡Así se hace!

In states and provinces, this is how the cloth diaper trade association spreads out:

  • 18 in California
  • 10 in New York
  • 9 in each Ontario & Colorado
  • 7 in each Pennsylvania & Minnesota
  • 6 in each Utah & Illinois
  • 5 in each Washington, Texas, Michigan, Maryland, Maine, Florida, & Arizona
  • 4 in each Wisconsin, Virginia, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Georgia, Connecticut, & British Columbia
  • 3 in each Quebec, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, & Kansas
  • 2 in each Vermont, South Carolina, Oregon, Louisiana, & Iowa
  • 1 in each Wyoming, Tennessee, Oklahoma, New Mexico, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Indiana, Idaho, Hawaii, Delaware, & Alaska

 

Top 10 Reasons to Come to the RDIA Conference

Attendees at cloth diaper business conference

 

If you need a reason to register for the RDIA annual cloth diaper business conference in Louisville September 27-28, start here.


1. Take the mystery out of cloth diaper laundry.

Steven Tinker is the President of the American Reusable Textile Association (ARTA), and he has been in the professional laundry industry for 35 years as a product development scientist and marketing professional. Steve Tinker knows laundry, and he knows it better than anyone else. He understands what it takes to get diapers clean, and he is going to tell you. Whether you run a diaper service or you are advising your customers on their home laundry, understanding the science will make a difference. So come to the conference, and stay to the end. Steven Tinker is our final speaker on Wednesday morning of the conference.


2. Change the world.

Our industry is often about change—changing consumer behavior, changing societal attitudes toward diapers, and changing those support systems that externalize the costs of throwaways. We have an inspiring example of change in our larger community with the Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA). Dan Marshall and Mary Newell of HTA are giving the keynote. If you come to their presentation, you will KNOW change is possible and YOU can (and must) make it happen yourself.


3. Vote on RDIA bylaw changes.

RDIA is a member organization. Board members and officers run the day-to-day operations and make sure goals and projects run, but underneath all of that we are governed by bylaws. Only members can change those rules of governance. If we have a quorum in Louisville, members will vote on bylaws in person. Your vote is crucial in shaping the direction of the association.


4. Get your motivational boost for the year.

We are all at different stages in our business growth and we need different catalysts to improvement. For some, new products bring exciting changes. Others are looking for new ways to reach out to potential customers. A lot of us are inspired by the cool things our colleagues are doing. Many are just looking for ways to work together toward our common goal of putting more babies in reusable cloth diapers. Whatever gets you through the year, two days together in Louisville gives you concentrated inspiration.


5. See new diapering and baby products.

New this year is a product showcase including both manufacturers of cloth diapers and diapering products plus other baby products. Time is tight for a lot of our members. If you don’t have time to attend both the ABC Kids Expo and the RDIA conference, the product showcase at the RDIA conference will be like a diaper-concentrated ABC show for you to see and choose new products for your store or service.


6. Relax and hang out at the hospitality suite.

Relationships that we build face to face with other RDIA members can lead to friendly support through the year, working together on industry projects, and do business together. Passing by one another, saying hello at meeting, or sitting next to one another at sessions is a start, but it’s difficult to have a substantial conversation. Hang out in the Hospitality Suite for that prolonged contact that lets you really get to know others in the cloth diaper industry.


7. Belong to a welcoming community.

There is a real sense among attendees at any industry meeting of being the hardcore, of belonging to a community. Real Diaper Industry Association is an open community, and YOU can belong. Just show up, say hello, and you are in.


8. Reassure your customers with accreditation.

For diaper services, accreditation has been discussed and desired to set standards that will reassure parents that the diapers delivered to their door are clean and safe. The Diaper Service Accreditation program will be launched at the conference. Participating services share a group discount on lab testing, and they follow strict guidelines. This is a leap forward for the industry. Be there to understand the opportunity for diaper services to advance their own businesses.


9. Learn how you can have a local impact.

Many, many RDIA members have put local incentives and subsidies high on their list of changes needed to increase cloth diaper use. We have heard of programs working elsewhere. The Real Diaper Association, the grassroots charity, has been encouraging local diaper aid programs and supporting the volunteers who make them happen. If you really want the scoop on cloth diaper incentives and subsidies as RDIA launches its own program, you need to hear what RDA is doing.


10. Be social with your customers.

Considering our target demographic as an industry, since parents buying diapers generally stay young as we all grow old, you had better know how young parents buy diapers. They are social and mobile, and if you aren’t there with them on social media, they will buy from someone who is. Scared? You should be. Come to the presentation “Don’t DO Social, BE Social” to get ideas on the direction you need to go as your customers change.


Bonus. Take a break.

People in our industry work ridiculous hours. Getting away for two days to think about the big business questions is one thing, but we need some fun, too. Forty of your new best friends will be on the Belle of Louisville, a National Historic Landmark, for dinner and a cruise up the Ohio River. It’s just a three-hour tour, but you can call it a mini vacation. (Was that a “three-hour tour”? Hmm. Just in case, you had better get your house in order. We could be stranded together for the next three seasons with a hilarious cast of characters.)

RDIA Recruiting Plan—come join with me!

As members of the RDIA we share a common goal—to spread the word and usage of cloth diapers.

Whether you are a retailer, small or large manufacturer, diaper service or a diaper information service, your membership helps to accomplish our unified goal and at the very same time your business is increased as our collective positive influence is felt stronger and wider each passing month!!

Keeping in mind that this is an industry association and therefore increasing our collective sales and market share is of primary interest, we have a plan to bring our position in the “Diapering World” to new levels.

The formula for our organization is working. The membership roles are now 165 strong and growing! We have an opportunity to increase our membership several times over.

THE PLAN IN A NUTSHELL

OBJECTIVE
Double our membership in one year’s time.

WHY
Would increase our ability to advertise, lobby, have trade show presence, educate, and many more worthy and productive activities.

RESULT
Thousands more parents would choose cloth over disposables resulting in increased sales, healthier kids, and a much cleaner environment!!

As the Board of Directors, we are putting a new emphasis on the recruiting committee whose duty will be to follow up on leads for perspective new RDIA members.

As members of this new team we will follow through on an individual basis with the ( soon to be ) new members, making sure that they are comfortable and up to speed on all things RDIA. From service opportunities to initial paperwork to benefits / perks of membership and just giving them a friend to be able to call with a question or idea.

We plan to put together a simple spreadsheet that will help us to ensure that each prospective member is treated with the prompt and personal attention. The committee will consist of members from all membership catagories which will help us to better relate to each new member on his/her own terms.

Ok, there are two things that are now needed to get this ball rolling.

  1. Members to fill committee positions.
  2. Referrals for RDIA prospects

If you have a small amount of time to give to the cause and you have basic computer skills and you do not mind answering questions via phone or email, come join with me!

As for referrals, this is up to all of us as members. We all know someone else in the industry that is not part of the association and probably should be. We will be creating a referral form that can be submitted electronically. These referrals will then be personally and carefully followed up on all the way through the membership process!

If we all bring just one new member to the RDIA this coming year, our membership will double! Creation and support of this new committee can help to make that happen!!

Please volunteer for the committee today by contacting Rachel at info@realdiaperindustry.org

And for all of us—start thinking of the business associates that should be part of the RDIA

Thanks very much for your support of this most worthy and mutually beneficial call to action.

Dave

David H. Milligan
Bambino Mio (Manufacturer)
Member, RDIA Board of Directors

Cloth Diaper Business News Feed

What is going on in the cloth diaper industry?

  • Who bought a laundromat a year ago?
  • Who just moved into a new 5000 square foot store?
  • Who is celebrating a 10th anniversary?

You know you want to know!

Find answers on the cloth diaper business news feed.  Our home page has a mini version of the feed in a cool sidebar gadget like the one below.

All RDIA members are welcome to send press releases, announcements, and big news to info at realdiaperindustry dot org.  For more details on news feed guidelines, use your member login to the RDIA website and check out the member media tools page.