March 5, 2011

The Power of Knowledge: From Average to Champion

One of my favorite movies is “Secretariat” about the most famous horse to ever come down the stretch. The movie itself was, in my opinion, well done. The story was based on a true one and the historical information is very accurate. That’s the part that amazed me the most, the facts about Secretariat. The Kentucky Derby and The Preakness Stakes, both designed for speed horses, for the Triple Crown (1973) were really the lead up to the final race, The Belmont Stakes. The Belmont demands both speed as well as extreme endurance and this is the race where most thought Secretariat would fail. In fact in most of Secretariat’s races he came out of the gate last but finished strong. The Belmont was a race that is not only remembered for winning the Triple Crown but for its incredible start (he charged out of the gate possessed) and improbable finish. It is that finish that leads me to this week’s blog. That finish was won by 31 lengths which showed how truly dominant Secretariat was at the time or any time.
My point for bringing Secretariat’s dominance to you is the question I ask; “what separates you from your competition in ways that have you gain the champion’s edge?”

(Watch this video then continue with this blog.)

Now that’s what I call dominance where you leave no doubt that there is you and then the rest. If you are the only game in town and have no competition stop reading and go about your day. But if you are like the rest of the associate members you need to come to grips with the realization that unless you are “different” from your competitors you will always be “in the pack,” never blasting through to the finish.

You have a product or service, great start but so does your competition. You have competitive pricing; well you’d better if that’s all you have. You tell funny jokes at the bar while buying the next round; ah the memories that last for those 15 minutes are your nest egg.

The five “keys” to being a professional representative in the building industry?

  1. a product that is needed
  2. product understanding
  3. a price that works with a budget
  4. a personality that emits trust and likeability
  5. customer service before, during and after

No, these are not “keys” but you better bring them to the race if you want to get on the track. No the key to being dominant is KNOWLEDGE. Past the knowledge of product you’ll find industry knowledge. There are many ways to gain industry knowledge but here are two examples of where I believe you’ll find that knowledge:

  1. NAHB Education, specifically the Certified Graduate Associate (CGA) Designation. The courses that are required to earn this designation are all designed to help you, the associate member, understand your customer’s or potential customer’s business. What a builder goes through to build a home is not only a test of skill but incredible patience and stamina. Understanding the process goes a long way towards you separating from the competition. Your local will know how you can take the CGA course but your local may also offer other educational programs that could also help. Talk to your executive officer, they’ll know the right steps or go to and type Certified Graduate Associate in the search box.

  1. Industry related information. Do you read the information provided by your local? By your state?? NAHB??? And if you answer “yes” to any or all do you understand how it impacts housing? If you answered yes 4 times you are just beginning. Now what do you do with all this information? The answer to that question will decide if you will be Secretariat-like and help you capitalize on your 4 yeses. “The Secretariat rep” will take this information and deliver it along side the product and pricing which will cause further separation from the competition. You are bringing information that will help the builder plan accordingly for his/her company’s future as opposed to what you have brought that is utilized during the actual construction known as the present.

All the truly successful associates I have known in my 25 years of membership have utilized knowledge to blow away the field. Reading is simply not enough. Understanding, and a thirst for continued knowledge and sharing of knowledge, is the key to standing out.

Secretariat had the will, the speed and the endurance to be a race horse. Some say a horse is very intelligent but with out trainers that are knowledgeable about their industry it’s just a horse.
The right training took those three traits and turned him into a champion for the ages.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

1 comment:

John said...

Good article Michael!