The Value of Trade Associations for Professional Contractors
by Greg Hartmann, National Account Manager
I do belong to trade associations and have found the benefits to be far greater than what I had in mind when I signed up.
As a sales person working for a manufacturer, I know that by joining an association of builders I have the opportunity to connect with the people that use the products I sell. For me the value I receive is far greater than the annual fee I pay. For builders the value can be even greater.
- Financially it is in your best interest to belong to the trade associations representing your business. These organizations are made up of members at the core of your business and can bring you many benefits. Benefits may include advice on building issues and code compliance, or advice on legal issues concerning your customers, your business and your employees. The availability of this advice alone can outweigh the cost of membership if you avoid one costly legal issue. Your annual membership is probably going to be less than 1 or 2 hours of legal fees.
- Associations give you a voice. I’m sure you can think of plenty of things having an impact on your business that you wish could be changed. It may be local, state or national regulations. It may be availability of materials or the quality of the materials. Alone it is hard to get anyone to listen or to appreciate the issues you are having. Get together with a group in your same industry and you will be heard by manufacturers and suppliers, you will even start to make gains with the building officials. Hearing from a group gives the authorities confidence that they are hearing about issues affecting an entire sector of an industry. As your trade group grows so does your voice.
- Belonging to a trade group can even improve your image by increasing your professional credibility. For many industries membership in the trade association can be a mark of quality and shows the public you are part of a respected group of builders. This is especially true when the association works hard promoting community involvement projects. I am sure you are aware of groups that have done remodeling work for families suffering through hardships, home repairs for victims of tornados or hurricanes, decks built for veterans, and even homes built and given to deserving families. Not only is the recognition of being associated with these projects valuable. You will also enjoy volunteering yourself and your resources for these extremely meaningful projects.
- Educational opportunities are a benefit realized at nearly all trade associations. Members are offered continuing education opportunities, certification programs, and discounts with online education and local colleges. Regular chapter meetings will often times include presentations by experts in materials, software, marketing, and other aspects of your business.
Any of the above benefits are of greater value that the annual dues you pay.
But wait… there’s more!
Members also take advantage of:
- Business Resources such as easy access to forms and templates exclusive to your industry.
- Public Relations: Most groups are doing marketing for their members. Brochures and mailers, “How to Select a Builder” or “Deck Safety Month” flyers.
- Connect to customers through websites and trade shows.
- A Higher Level of Accountability: The unlicensed handyman, the Chucks with Trucks, the lower quality builders are not part of these groups.
- Trade Show Attendance: You will have free or discounted access to attend many shows. NAHB claims that members saved more than $1 million in admission fees at the International Builders Show last year.
- Trade Show Exhibiting: Many associations sponsor shows for homeowners giving you a great venue to attract new customers.
- Insurance Group Savings: Insurance plans and prescription drug plans can represent huge savings compared to any plan an individual could get.
- Networking with Your Peers: A non-competitive environment to talk with and learn from others that are in your business.
- Make More Money: Members of trade organizations make more than their non-member competitors. The knowledge, resources, and expertise gained are realized in greater revenues.
- Weekly newsletters with the latest news in your industry.
Trade associations are critical to improving the industry you make a living in. Not only do associations help you become more successful, they give your industry a voice and can quickly communicate to everyone in the industry how government regulations will affect members.
Below is the reply I got from Lainie Sleppin of Mid-State Lumber when I asked her about the benefits of being a NADRA member.
“Being a NADRA member has helped me stay within the nucleus of the decking industry. It has helped me develop wonderful relationships with many of the key deck builders, manufacturers and suppliers. Through the years we have all worked diligently to raise the bar in the decking industry. The local chapter of NADRA has served us well to be able to carry that message.”
Glenn Mathewson is extremely active in the decking industry and has been involved at nearly every level of the industry. From laborer to carpenter apprentice to business owners and as a building inspector in Colorado. He is an expert in our industry. Below is his reply when asked about the value he sees in trade associations.
“As a single individual or single company, it is difficult to single-handedly guide and steer your industry and contribute your experiences and knowledge for the greater good. However, when many individuals and companies pool together their experiences, knowledge, time and finances, they are able to lead their industry in everything from legislation to bulk rates for services…and they are heard and respected. With so much change anticipated in the future regarding deck building codes, now is more important than ever to have the professionals of the deck industry leading the future of the deck industry. This can only come through membership and support of the leading industry organization. For decks…that’s NADRA!”
Glenn is also a member of the International Code Council, and the Colorado Chapter of the International Code Council
What is your experience? Do you belong to a trade association? Let me know what ones you belong to and what you see as the benefits to your business.
January 17, 2014 by Janet Blake (comments: 3)