Are you involved with a local trade association? You should be. Here’s 10 reasons why you should join a local contractor association immediately
1. Grow Like the NFL
There’s not a more powerful sports league in the world than the National Football League. Teams within the NFL compete vigorously on the playing field. Yet, despite their competitive natures and despite the fact that not all of them like each other, the team owners work together to promote the league. Because of their united efforts, the league has surpassed every other sports league in the world.
Promotion of an industry is one of the main roles of a trade association. As an individual, you can do good works for the community. If you act in concert with other contractors in a “Heat the Town” or similar initiative, you can give the entire industry a big boost in your area. We need all of the help we can get.
Public relations efforts do not stop with charity work. Through an association, contractors can act together to promote HVAC as a career choice in area high schools and trade schools.
2. Find Out Local Information
Manufacturer territory managers can keep you informed about the products they sell. The trade publications and Internet can keep you informed about the industry nationally. The chamber of commerce follows general business interests locally. Only a local trade association will keep you up-to-speed on how local codes changes, licensing, and municipal edicts will affect contracting.
3. Gain a Voice
One of the most important roles for a trade association is government representation. When state, county, or city government does, or threatens to do something really stupid (hard to imagine, right?), you cannot stop it by yourself. However, a united group of contractors acting together through an association has a chance.
4. Get Local Training
In some areas local distributors and schools provide excellent technical training. Other areas lack good training. This is another role for the local association. You may not be able to afford a good technical trainer and lab on your own, but a group of contractors splitting the cost is more than reasonable.
The association can also bring business training into the area for owners. This isn’t free, but it’s a lot less expensive when a trainer is brought into your market than when you have to travel.
In addition, good associations bring in good speakers for local meetings. These can be informative and motivational. All of us need regular motivation. As Zig Ziglar says, “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing, that's why we recommend it daily.”
5. Gain Business Insight
You may think every other contractor in the area is a fierce competitor you cannot trust, but some of them probably won’t feel that way. Usually, the most successful contractors do not fear competition from other contractors. They know that you cannot take their customers from them as long as they stay in touch and serve them well. These contractors are usually quite willing to share what’s working for them. After all, good marketing cannot be kept secret. And on the operations side, a secret shelving plan will only be secret until the next technician decides the grass is greener elsewhere. Pay attention and you will pick up tips the easy way from contractors who may have had to learn the hard way.
6. Don’t Overlook the Moral Support
There’s something to be said for just talking with someone who’s fighting the same battles you fight. It can be uplifting just to be able to share employee or customer problems with someone who understands.
7. Help When Buying or Selling
If you want to grow your business by acquisition, the trade association is a great place to find potential candidates. When you get to know people, you will learn who has worthwhile companies to buy and might be approaching the point where the owner is considering an exit strategy.
It can work the same way in reverse. When you are ready to sell your business, you might find the buyer in your local trade association.
8. Membership Enhances Credibility With Consumers
Membership in an association helps give your company credibility with the public, but only if you promote it and position it that way. It’s reassuring to a consumer that your company is a member of the chamber of commerce, Better Business Bureau (sigh), local contractor association, and other groups.
9. Avoid Stings
While membership in a trade association may not prevent gotcha journalism and TV stings, it can help if the contractors work together. The association becomes a vehicle to spread the word whenever one contractor catches wind that a sting might be in the offing. If no one cooperates and the word is spread that a local news station is considering a sting, executing it becomes harder. A call from the association executive director to the news director might persuade the station to try a different industry.
10. Membership is More Affordable
While there are many stand-alone, independent state and local associations, most required contractors to join at the local, state, and national levels, making membership more expensive. That rule has just changed and contractor have a choice what level they wish to join. If cost has held you back in the past, you now have the option to join at the local or state level only to save a little money.
If you need help finding a local contractor association, contract Matt Michel at [email protected]. If you’re looking for a national contractor business alliance, join the Service Roundtable by calling 877.262.3341 or visiting www.ServiceRoundtable.com.