Marty eJournal column pixDenny’s or the Corner Diner? 

by Marty Hayes, J.D.

Q: Where do you want to go eat, honey?

Denny’s or Lisa’s?

A: Oh God, anywhere but Denny’s!

Actually, I enjoy eating at Denny’s when I am on the road, as I know EXACTLY the type of food I will get. It will be relatively tasty, fairly priced and the service will likely be adequate. I just want to eat and get back on the road. But, if I want to share a good meal with friends or loved ones, Denny’s is not my first choice. Locally, we have a small diner called “Lisa’s Diner,” run by a lovely individual who makes great Southern cuisine, along with the best double bacon cheeseburger in the world. While this might be interesting, just what does it have to do with the Network?

Frankly, everything. You see, if one compared the Network to the other companies promoting similar products, it would be a Lisa’s v. Denny’s comparison. As the armed citizen community is figuring out what we knew nine years ago (that armed citizens need legal help after a shooting) the companies that came along after the Network was founded in 2008 are growing and surpassing the Network in volumes of members or customers. I recently saw one such company boasting of 240,000 members, and another supposedly has 58 employees! To compare, the Network has a modest 14,000 members and seven employees. We are the Lisa’s Diner in the world of self-defense aftermath protection.

In fact, my original goal when I started the Network was 5,000 members and a half a million in the Legal Defense Fund. But we rushed right past that goal in 2012, and reset higher goals of 10,000 members and a million dollars in the Fund. We are now beyond those goals, too!

So, where does it end? First, the Network is in an enviable position. At a time when we are all bombarded by advertising in one media or another for these larger competing programs, it is nice to know that the Network is growing, and not spending much money for promotion. That means we get to keep our membership dues as low as possible, along with continuing to grow the Legal Defense Fund. Thank you to our affiliates and members who continue to refer new members to us.

We also are starting to think that the Network is in a pretty good place right now. We have a great reputation, and are affiliated with the “A-team” when it comes to expertise in this subject matter. We have a fully funded Legal Defense Fund, and attorneys all across the country who are willing to come to the aid of our members if needed. We frankly do not need to grow any larger to fulfill our mission. Don’t be surprised to find out at some point in the future that we have decided to close off new membership. It is not a decision we have made yet. Still, if you are not yet a member but are thinking about joining, you might want to make that happen, sooner than later.

More About the NRA

In a few days, the National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors will be meeting for one of their quarterly meetings. I was considering attending and seeing if I could address the group, but since I already sent a letter to each board member, I am not sure what I would accomplish. Consequently, I think I will take those four days and do something productive, like fishing!

Much water has gone under the bridge since they introduced NRA Carry Guard, and I figured I would take this opportunity to let you know what I have learned. First, in the time since I wrote my letter to NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre last June (see the Network has grown at an unprecedented rate. We are a thousand members stronger since the end of May, and our team has been working overtime here at the office to fill those memberships. While I do not fully know the reason for this bump, I figure it is because with the introduction of Carry Guard, more people have been considering buying some type of aftermath protection. When all their research is done, they likely decide the Network is the most honest, sincere and transparent organization, along with having the greatest amount of expertise to assist if needed.

Members have asked whether Mr. LaPierre responded to my letter. I received no word from him. I really didn’t expect to, but it would have been nice to have the guy who keeps asking me for money to acknowledge that I am something more than a checkbook.

In July, I posted on our website and mailed a personally addressed paper letter to each NRA Board Member. At least that outreach got some response. Three board members responded to me–two in written form, and one via telephone. The two letter writers both were upset that I was trying to cast the NRA into some type of public shame, and both criticized what I had publically written. One even made a veiled threat, saying, “Be very careful how you proceed in your attack on the NRA, because up to now, the NRA is only a business competitor.” I didn’t take the threat seriously, but certainly kept the paper copy to show how the NRA plays ball.

In both the written letters, I was accused of being afraid of the competition, meaning that NRA Carry Guard would somehow put the Network out of business. Of course, it is the NRA who has demonstrated the fear of honest competition, when they kicked two competitors out of the 2017 NRA Annual Meeting.

The other board member chose to call instead of write. We had a cordial conversation and he in fact agreed with much of what I had to say, and promised to relay my feelings to the Board at the September meeting.

I wrote those letters to express two overriding concerns. First, being a Life Member of the NRA for many years, and an annual member for another 30 years before, I felt the NRA was going down a pathway that was not good for the organization, and I wanted to make sure they knew how this one member felt. Secondly, I have learned a little about social media and Internet marketing, and figured if I expressed my views in the public way I did, many more people would read my thoughts and as a result come to understand the benefits of Network membership and join us. I believe this was successful, based on the increase in membership.

I still believe the NRA is making a huge mistake with Carry Guard, but it is clear that my one voice will have no effect on them. There is a famous line attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte that goes like this: “Never interfere with your enemy when he is making a mistake.” If one inserts the work “competitor” for “enemy,” then the quote works for me. Consequently, I am done with this, at least for the foreseeable future. It has taken up too much of my time as it is, which in the end, time is all we have.

To read more of this month's journal, please click here.