August 28, 2011

"Random Thoughts"

Some would say that this post is really just filler, to get through the end of the summer. You might be right! After the 2011 Fall Boards in Milwaukee, Wisconsin I will be starting an HBA leadership series based on the NAHB Associates presentation that will be online after Fall Boards within (shameless plug? Check).
I don't think random thoughts are just for filler, I believe inside voices should be heard out loud every once in awhile so people have an idea of what is going on inside (scary, I know).

I was just thinking this morning about  the fact that no matter how hard we try, we are never going to beat Mother Nature (as I write this there is a hurricane bearing down on the New Jersey coast). We can only prepare for her wrath and deal with her anger after she has left the room. No marriage jokes here, those particular inside voices need to stay inside. It's tough to be at the mercy of something that you have little to no control over. Then there are events that can be controlled or at the very least a chance to alter. Legislation comes to mind as an event that can be controlled or altered.
So my thoughts grew and I became focused on the difference between a hurricane and legislation. Both change the way you feel, both change the way you act. One is an Act of God, the other is an act of apathy. We can not change an Act of God, we can adapt and learn a lesson. We can change, however, an act of apathy and all that is needed is an act of YOU. I kept thinking about why the majority of members allow apathy, as it pertains to taking control of their business lives, to settle in an have what's being thrown at the building industry be accepted as an Act of God. I can't speak for others so I'll just wonder out loud.

Another random thought I had yesterday, as I removed any object that can become airborne from my deck and yard, was the myths of the home builders association. I thought about associates becoming upset about lack of business from builders and wondered what they were personally doing to help and not complain. I gave thought to the HBA-old statement "Builders should do business with me, I'm a member!" When I think of that statement my thoughts wander to a fear that associates feel entitled to the business because they joined. I wonder what goes through those members minds. Nobody is entitled to anything. All you have is the right to help yourself and helps starts with understanding, understanding develops into action, action brings satisfaction. Be careful; too much satisfaction brings complacency. Complacency brings you back to the entitlement statement. Don't feel entitled, never be satisfied (business satisfaction is what I'm referring to). You are not going to receive business from the HBA, you will be given the right to the opportunity for business. I wonder why the phrase "nothing in life is given to you" is easily forgotten when it's convenient to the situation.

Really random thought that just entered my mind; The old "Christmas" classic (my thoughts do not have to be politically correct) "It's a Wonderful Life" was about a man named George Bailey, from the fictional town of Bedford Falls, who was shown what life would be like without him in it. One scene connects with me because of the building industry. That scene had George's dad talking about what they do professionally (Bailey Building and Loan) for the people of Bedford Falls. Peter Bailey commented "You know, George, I feel that in a small way we are doing something important. Satisfying a fundamental urge. It's deep in the race for a man to want his own roof and walls and fireplace." This is what we do; we help satisfy humankind's need for shelter. We are all in the most noble of professions. What would our professions be like without NAHB or the state and local HBAs? Not looking for an answer, just trying to make sense of the thought.

I have a lot more random thoughts but I'll share those with you another time when I'm looking for filler ;)

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair

August 21, 2011

Peer to Peer Fundraising: Part 6 "Putting the Pieces Together"

The Peer to Peer Fundraising series can help you start revamping the way you traditionally solicited for PAC dollars. What we need to do now is put together a strategic plan to help you begin, and sustain, the "new" way of fundraising; investment in the PAC. 

Just like a jigsaw puzzle, there will be a clear and defined picture once all the pieces are placed together. Its a jumble until then but the effort makes it worth it. How do we go from a jumble to completion?

Part 6 "Putting the Pieces Together"

First, let's recap by laying the pieces out on the table. Based on what we discussed in previous posts we have;

1. What doesn't work.
2. Political synergy.
3. Why you should care.
4. Common roadblocks.
5. What type of fundraiser is best and the type of member the fundraiser will have their best success securing an investment. 

Now what? 

Step 1 - "PAC Trustee 'buy in.'" In order for you to begin you have to recruit your current PAC trustees. Peer to Peer starts with them and will end with them if they are not part of the process from the beginning. Your PAC Chair will need to dedicate time at a trustee meeting to go over the material in the series of presentations to see what will work and what may not work. 
Note: If the size of your PAC board of trustees is small, maybe non existent, recruit your HBA board of directors. After all, the primary focus of the HBA is advocacy.

Step 2 - "Engage the members." Once the trustees are on board with the material, each trustee needs to be assigned small groups of members, no more than 10 at a time. The members should be invited by the HBA president and PAC chair through personal invitations to the selected members. 

Step 3 - "100% saturation." Continue until entire membership has been contacted. This process should continue until all your members have been invited. If you have members who didn't attend after the first attempt, phone calls need to be made and have them say to you personally they can or can not participate. 

Step 4 - "Direct members." While 100% of your membership is admirable as a goal your actual target should be 100% of your builder members and 100% of the directly impacted associates, such as suppliers, trade contractors and service providers who have the vast majority of the business derived by the success of homes being built (home owner warranty companies and title companies as examples).

Step 5 - "Continuing education." Demonstrate to your investors your advocacy successes and highlight the approaching threats, keep them aware at all times. Out of sight out of mind. Quarterly PAC newsletters or emails detailing their "return on investment" will make your job easier at retaining them as regular PAC investors.

Step 6 - "Start 'em young." New members should have PAC orientation as part of becoming a new member. Added benefit; this also shows the new member the purpose of the HBA from the beginning.

Putting all the jumbled pieces together will ultimately bring the mythical puzzle of PAC investment to the forefront and build stronger, more engaged components to the political synergy I wrote about in part 2 of this series. 

This process sounds time consuming, and it certainly is, but the road to increasing your membership percentage in PAC investments has to start somewhere. This is the reason you need dedicated trustees to have this effort be a success. 

There are some who will "think they know it all." If they do why aren't they as successful as they could be with raising political awareness along with raising dollars? How many trustees can point to the members they brought in to PAC originally and can say that those same members come back year after year because of what they were taught?

The Peer to Peer Fundraising techniques will one day, if it becomes and remains successful for you, replace events to raise those dollars. Those events can enjoy the net profits being utilized for HBA operating. But until that day happens you will probably still need PAC fundraisers. Sometimes they'll need to be educational, most times for the enjoyment of the members. Just remember to keep the FUN in FUNdraising when you plan. We all could use some fun these days.

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

NOTE: This article is based on a section from The NAHB Associates presentation "Peer to Peer Fundraising." This type of fundraising will work on all of your HBA events or fundraising initiatives you may have; you just have the supply the core reason for the fundraiser and demonstrate a value to the potential investor. 

August 14, 2011

Peer to Peer Fundraising: Part 5 "Two Types of Fundraisers, Two Types of Members"

There are two types of fundraisers and both are identifying two types of members. It is really that black and white. I will explain why one fund raiser gets immediate results while the other builds for continued political investment. We will also discuss the two types of members and I'm not talking about builders and associates. 
Part 5 "Two Types of Fundraisers, Two Types of Members"

"The Hunter" ~ Think about it for a moment. A hunter goes into the woods in search of his prey. Eventually the object of his quest appears....    

Ready...     Aim... Fire... Done. 
One shot, one kill, over.

The hunter in fundraising has a similar approach. The potential PAC contributor (not investor) is targeted, money was asked for and a check was written. One target, one ask, one check, over. The hunter was able to "bag his 1 for the PAC" but did not set up the potential for the future. 

The Farmer ~ The farmer tills his ground, plants the seeds for his crop. He will supply water and nutrients to aid in the growth of his crops. The farmer knows that he will have continued growth of crops by taking the time and care to nurture. 

The farmer in fundraising will "plant the seeds" of political synergy into the member's mind. He will carefully supply the member with the nutrients which I'll describe as visions of business opportunities. This will almost guarantee that the member being tended to will continue, just like crops, to invest (not contribute) to the PAC.

The differences between the hunter and the farmer, when it comes to fundraising, are very simple and they apply to what we experience within the HBA. The hunter gets one contribution while the farmer has "sown the seeds" for a continuous investment in the building industry. 

Any PAC, local, state or NAHB's, has to have our members understand the importance of the PAC. To give and not understand is pointless. To give because you want to make a difference is the strength of our Federation, our industry.

A farmer knows what ground is fertile and what ground is not even though both look the same. Which brings us to the two types of members I mentioned in the beginning. 

When we think of members within the HBA we think "builder" and we think "associate." Those are the only two classifications of members we have. What I'm talking about is to identify the two types of members that are "fertile" and who are "not so fertile." Those members are classified as DIRECT and INDIRECT.

Direct ~ A direct member is a member who is directly affected by issues affecting the home building industry. 
1. Builders and remodelers.
2. Supplier of product that goes into a new home or renovation.
3. A trade that is needed to help construct a new home or renovation.
4. Any service that solely handles the construction of a new home or renovation.

This group has one purpose when it comes to our industry and that purpose is the start and completion of a new home or remodel.

Indirect ~ is any member who can sell his or her product outside the home building and remodeling industry.
1. Insurance companies.
2. Financial services
3. Lending institutions.
4. Law firms
5. Advertising agencies

The list is long so I'll stop with 5 examples but hopefully you will understand that the indirect member is diversified and can work with many industries, not just housing. 

How are the direct member and indirect member different when it comes to political fundraising? The direct has a need for the housing industry to be protected while the indirect member, not so much. Understanding this will help you cultivate a list of potential PAC investors (direct) who will continue to invest or hunt for contributors (indirect) who will sponsor a PAC event when times are better. Indirect members will not invest in our industry's defense on a regular basis because housing is not their primary focus.

Knowing whether or not the member is affected by positive or negative initiatives in our nation's capitol, or in your state capitol, will go along way with becoming successful with Peer to Peer fundraising by streamlining your efforts based on the potential PAC investor's need.
Next week's blog we will tie all of the Peer to Peer blogs together and develop a strategic plan for your fundraising efforts. 

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

NOTE: This article is based on a section from The NAHB Associates presentation "Peer to Peer Fundraising." This type of fundraising will work on all of your HBA events or fundraising initiatives you may have; you just have the supply the core reason for the fundraiser and demonstrate a value to the potential investor. 

August 7, 2011

Peer to Peer Fundraising: Part 4 "Common Road Blocks"

Road blocks are really just excuses in disguise. When some one wants to evade a question there are may ways to avoid the financial ask. It's the old "I can't hear you because I'm going through a tunnel" tactic. It's tough, I won't deny it; overcoming peoples objections to taking money from their wallet and handing it over to you is the ultimate test in persuasion. To clear the roadblock and not get detoured I am going to give you the most common objections, as well as mistakes and misconceptions, with possible ways to persuade the potential political investor that maybe they just don't have any objections at all. Knowing what makes up the HBA's political synergy (described in Part 2 from this series) can really help you to engage the prospective PAC investor. Understanding possible responses to objections may not get you a "yes" but if you don't engage at all the answer will always be "no."

Part 4 "Common Road Blocks"

There really is only one mistake when asking for PAC investments; you need  to understand when asking for the investment do not preach. You may have all this new or refreshed information about political synergy but who you are speaking with (not to) most likely doesn't. It's very easy for those in the "absolute know" to become frustrated that others don't invest already. No one likes being lectured and people will have a tendency to shut down your words in their mind and regard your attempt as "wasting your time." 

Don't get on your soap box and preach just because you understand the message. By utilizing the information you know, you are able to teach the potential investor the reasons why and then you can handle the objections in an easier way. Sales 101 clearly states "ask open ended question." Ask them questions about political synergy such as "how do you think the HBA protects the building industry?" By engaging them in conversation they will feel that you are not just looking for money; you are helping them understand.

Don't Preach, Teach!

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn" a quote from Benjamin Franklin that rings true in any time. 

Let’s go over two of the most common objections you will be given. We are all sales professionals, whether it's selling homes or selling products and services. The reason you receive a "no" is because you didn't supply a "need" or a reason to commit. 

“Low on Funds, No Business!”

Low on funds, particularly in today's economic climate, is a valid concern. When you take an investment dollar amount, let's call it $100, you can't just say $100 dollars. That is looked at as a whole. Break it down into manageable dollar amounts such as $1.93 per week. $100.00 divided by 52 weeks is $1.93. A large cup of coffee is $2.75. An iTunes download is .99 cents. A 16 ounce bottle of water is $1.50.

In other words, you need to demonstrate how low the asking investment cost truly is in the (pardon the over used phrase) grand scheme of things.
No business is an easier road block to navigate. No business is the primary reason to invest in the PAC. HBAs are fighting everyday, on everyone's behalf, to bring relief to the home building industry. If you plan on being in business in a year, and beyond, a continued yearly investment helps to insure that you will have the opportunity to stay in business. 

"Conservatives v Liberals, Republican v Democrats"

"I don't contribute to PACs. They tend to contribute to candidates I don't support because I oppose them on issues that are unrelated to the housing industry. My personal contributions are candidate specific." 

How's that for a "NO?"  The process within political synergy is to identify legislators or candidates that support housing as well as political leaders that are in prominent "seats of persuasion." I am not saying to ignore each potential investor's political views. I'm explaining that being employed is better than being an R or a  D. I have my own political views, and while it feels great to stand on my moral high ground, it feels better to be employed and providing for my family. The housing industry doesn't support one party or another. They support the candidates who are for our industry's recovery and stability. If the potential investor truly earns a living for home building teaching them about the HBA political synergy will demonstrate that HBA staff is doing a fantastic job identifying who support us and who are not interested in helping the home building industry. When you invest you invest for a return. What better return than pro housing legislation which in turn helps you to keep earning?

Now let's talk about BUILD-PAC and the objections, or misconceptions, for investing nationally. Understand that the two previous objections are given on all levels of PAC as well but now we have the objection to contributing federally. 

"Which PAC is more important; local & state or NAHB's?"

Builders are most directly affected by local and state governments. Federal politics affect builders all over the country. The United States Congress is the only government entity that has the power to help our industry right now. Contrary to Tip O'Neill's popular belief not all politics are local. We live in a new world, "global housing" economy. A balance has to be achieved when investing in PACs, within a particular state and NAHB. When people invest they generally invest dollars in multiple areas. The same holds true for our industry's PACs. The available dollar is a lot smaller today and members will want to feel that their investment is helping. Demonstrate examples of  national victories as well as state victories and what affect it has on homes being built, in turn, products and services being sold.

One last road block that has nothing to do with asking for a dollar investment is asking other members to invest time, volunteering within the political synergy.

"Time is short, I can't volunteer"

I only have one answer for that statement and it is a bit harsh but it is reality. If you aren't working you'll have all the time you'll need. Don't rely on others to "handle it."  Become a part of the association that takes positive action which benefits everyone's livelihoods.

Next week we will discuss the two types of fundraisers and which style is best. We will also take a look at the two types of members we ask to invest, and no, I'm not talking about builders and associates. 

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

NOTE: This article is based on a section from The NAHB Associates presentation "Peer to Peer Fundraising." This type of fundraising will work on all of your HBA events or fundraising initiatives you may have; you just have the supply the core reason for the fundraiser and demonstrate a value to the potential investor.