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Value Creation Blog

Lobbying Is Your Civic Responsibility

Posted by Josh Patrick

Legislative session resized 600Soon, if it hasn’t already happened, National, State, and Local legislature will be back in session.  Hundreds if not thousands of bills will be introduced.  You’ll read about how politics is owned by the professional lobbying groups and you might even think that lobbying would be a waste of your time.

I can tell you from personal experience that the opposite is true.  Not only is lobbying not a waste of time, it’s your civic duty.  A duty that can make your life and country a better place.

A true story

When I was in the vending business we had the Plattsburgh Air Force Base as one of our accounts.  This was back in the 70’s when inflation was running rampant.  We were getting price increases from our suppliers on a weekly basis.  They were coming so fast and furiously that we needed to be able to pass these increases quickly on to our customers.

We didn’t have a problem with getting price increases from most of our customers.  The one exception was AAFES (Army Air Force Exchange Services) at the Plattsburgh Air Base.  They were holding up our price increases for months.  Not only was this happening with my small vending company, it was happening all over the country.

As it happened, our local Congressman was a senior member of the Armed Services Committee in Congress.  He wielded a great deal of influence.

I finally got totally fed up.

I worked and cajoled the local AAFES people to get them to move our price increases more quickly.  Often we had a second price increase on a product before our first request was granted. 

I finally had it and really couldn’t think of anything to do except for one last try, contact my Congressman.  When I wrote a letter to his office I was convinced that my letter would mean nothing. 

Boy was I wrong.  As soon as my Congressman got the letter he had his Chief of Staff contact me.  Both the Congressman and his Chief of Staff were incensed that a small business like ours was being given the run around.  Within 48 hours there were new regulations about pricing for vending machines on Air Force Bases.  No longer would we have to wait for approval.  We only had to prove through a survey that the prices on our Air Base location were no higher than our other accounts.

Now when we got a price increase we could pass it along in a timely manner.  No longer could the bureaucrats at AAFES give us the run around.  Not only was this ruling applied to our little company in upstate New York, it was applied to every vending company in the country.  This was worth millions of dollars to my industry.

It only takes one contact.

It all started with one letter.  I learned in a very tangible way that our politicians really do care.  We can’t just sit back and complain about lack of action in our State Capitals or with members of Congress.  If there’s something unfair, or education that needs to be provided, we as constituents of our elected officials are in a great position of providing this education.  The politicians who represent us are interested in helping us solve problems; especially ones that legislatures cause.

As long as we’re civil and respectful I believe you’ll get a fair hearing.  Oh, and there was another time I met with a US Senator and had a major impact on national legislation.  I’ll hold that story for another day.

One of the things that you need to participate in Lobbying is to have the time to do so.  That means you need to get yourself out of the weeds, at least some of the time.  We have a special report on 4 Roles you as a business person play.  If you can learn to be more strategic in your company and get out of day-to-day operations you can spend at least a little time on issues like the one I described above.  To get your copy of this report, click on the button below.


Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated.

This article is published for residents of the United States only.  Registered Representatives and Investment Adviser Representatives of NFP Securities, Inc. may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered.  Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed.  Not all of the products and services referenced on this site are available in every state and through every representative or advisor listed.

Topics: communication, lessons learned, small business

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