Wisconsin ATV/UTV Clubs: How To Get People Involved


By: Tom VanZeeland


The club was started to maintain and develop trails and have social interaction with like-minded people.  Make sure you don’t deviate too much from the core.  A lot of clubs become strictly social or become too focused on charity. That is when the club starts to die and lose focus and customers.

ATV UTV Club Trail Cleanup


Understand that society has changed and that young people (30-40 year olds) are busy building a career, running a business, and/or raising a family.  When my dad was my age he had a 21 year old son (me).  I have an 8 year old son.  Not as much flexibility in my life as his.  

The real volunteers (club employees) are the “old guys and girls” who are retiring but still have some drive and an empty bucket to fill.  Instead of trying so hard to get young people involved, why not try harder to get the retired businessmen involved? Fish for the species that is prevalent in the lake instead of trying to catch the one prize gamefish left in the lake.  My dad said to me once that “some old guy pulled out in front of him” while driving.  I thought to myself how old was that guy when my dad is already 65? The point is that my dad did not feel old.  So get them involved! WIIFM


I saw a sign on a church years ago that really stuck with me.  It said “People don’t change until the pain of staying the same hurts more than the change.” Think about it.  One of the most popular statements I hear is that there are only a few people in the club that do the work.  And they are all exhausted and sick of it.  Most of those hard workers are in this room.  Give yourself a round of applause for all the effort and energy you put forth.  I sincerely appreciate it.  Now don’t complain about it.  You’re not doing any good.  Cooperate with that.  It is called the Pareto Principle.  That principle states that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.  That is not just for the club or the church.  It is everywhere.  So the change that has to come is from the leaders of the club.  If 20% of the people do most of the work, get more people and understand that more work will be done.

Near North Trail Riders Groomer

KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid (or Silly or “SEXY”)

I was told this summer at a club event that the club only has 4 trail groomers.  He was frustrated that more people wouldn’t volunteer.  I gazed at him with a perplexed look and said that is the most intimidating thing.  For a city boy like me to get in the saddle of a big ole tractor like that? C’mon man.  He then told me there are like 4 buttons you have to push and everything is electronic.  How am I supposed to know that? Educate members and potential members.  And what is up with the memberships? It’s X dollars for a single, XX for a family, XXX if you are a member of WATVA, and XXXX if you and do a cartwheel? Huh? And does anyone know how to use Paypal or Venmo or even SQUARE? Cash is not king anymore.


You ever notice the one or two times Aaron Rodgers throws an interception (or the 20+ times a Bears qb does), the first thing he does after it is grabs the tablet and evaluates what he did wrong or what he missed.  That’s a great practice of successful people and organizations.  The challenge I want to throw down to the clubs is to take a look at your meetings and events. Are they clicky meetings held in a stodgy bar or static town hall or are they fun and inviting to new members.  I know we all want new members, and what are we doing once we get them signed up? Are we inviting them in when they show up to the meeting and making them feel welcome? Or are we all looking over at them and whispering to each other about the “new guy and girl” at the table in the corner? And while we are at it let’s take a look at our events, brat frys, and fundraisers. Are they welcoming to all the new riders? With the influx of new UTV owners what are we doing to let them know we want them involved.  Are there enough bathrooms set up at the brat fry? Is there something for the kids to do? Is it well signed and are people welcomed in?

If not, there’s your answer on why new people aren’t getting involved.

Polaris UTV Wisconsin Trails


And when we are having these meetings, brat fries, fisheries, and other events, how are we getting the word out there? Is it still in the letter that is mailed out? Emailed out with the rest of the SPAM? Or is it made known out there on social media? And if it is, is there a great description and an event made? We are all looking for something to do, but we need the confidence to know what to expect when we arrive.  The same reason chain restaurants work so well all over the country, we know what to expect when we arrive.  If we can get the word out and a great description of what to expect, attendance and participation will rise.


And to sum everything up, why did we get involved in this in the first place? FUN! Yes, we ride and I sell FUN and escape.  Is every meeting boring? Is it always about a Trail Clean Up Day? Does anyone know that these things can be FUN? And what about the young people we want involved, the women riders, and the kids? Are the raffle items we have knit oven mitts and kleenex box covers? Is there a bounce house for the kids to play in (and get out of the parents hair), and is there anything cool that everyone wants to win (a Yeti cooler, a new helmet, or more power sports related apparel or prizes).