March 25, 2012

"The Value of NAHB: Knowledge as a Benefit"

Last week's blog, "The Value of NAHB: Volunteerism as a Benefit" , focused on the advantages of being involved with fellow members of the HBA. Truth be told, networking and building relationships is as old as time itself. The value you bring to the network is you. What helps you be distinct is your personality; are you likable? Your commitment to following up; are you trustworthy? If people like you and trust you they will build a relationship with you. When it comes to selling those are two key features of You, Inc. that will bring your potential customer  closer to utilizing your services and deepen your current business relationships. However, as I have written in past articles, unless you have zero competitors and your product/service is a must have, you will constantly have to look at ways to give yourself more value. 

  1. Let's assume that you have competition and your career is in the building industry. You probably sell to builders but in some cases both builders and associates members could utilize what you are selling. I will focus on the builder, who may or may not be an HBA member. Know that what I will be explaining could be applied to selling to associates as well.  The Builder you are selling will be unconsciously acknowledging to him/herself regarding you;

    1. "Do I like this person?"
    2. "Could I trust this person?"

    These two points are all you. "You either is or you ain't" to borrow an expression. The next points the builder will be looking for may or may not be up to you, if you work for someone or self employed;

    1. Pricing (again, unless you have a unique product or service, with no competitors, pricing will almost always be a concern).
    2. Service.
    3. After purchase follow up and customer care.

    Let's add something that your competitor may not have, or may not utilize like you could; knowledge. Not product knowledge which I would assume you already have or should seriously acquire before you venture out in sales. The knowledge I'm talking about is "industry knowledge" the kind that you won't find in school are in sales training. The knowledge you can only obtain by being involved with your HBA and gaining a major benefit from your HBA investment. 

    Joining the committees that address the very reason for the HBAs' existence, industry advocacy and protection. Most local HBAs, and all state HBAs as well as NAHB, have legal action committees and legislative committees. It is within these two committees, you will be listening to staff and engaged members discuss  issues that affect builders. Ask questions so you fully understand the impact of each discussion. How does it affect a builder If you are directly impacted by the information discussed, and the actions taken, by these committees. How could you utilize the information so it is considered a benefit to you or your employer?

    1. Become more than just a sales rep that delivers pricing and product information; you can, through the industry knowledge you receive. This only helps to further your credibility, gives the builder relevant information that they could utilize in their business planning, helps breaks the “salesmen” illusion and gives you the golden opportunity to become the “go-to pro” for the builder. Some builders may already have the information but will be pleasantly surprised to realize that you know it as well.
    2. The information obtained by you could also be utilized by your employer, by helping them have a better view of the building industry; currently and near term.  Sales reps are always preparing sales projections for their employers or, if self employed, their company's strategic business plan. Having the knowledge of what is being affected and what may be affected will most certainly give you a better chance to accurately establish potential business opportunities. If you don't know, you could be "chasing your tail " and losing valuable business time which could affect your personal time. 
Point 1 not only strengthens the bond you have with your current accounts but will help you to differentiate yourself from your competition giving you a clear advantage. Add industry knowledge to being likable and trustworthy and you have "power" over your competition.

Point 2 helps you prepare your business on the realities of the industry and gives you a value that your employer will deem invaluable. All this for what you are currently paying on your HBA dues. When you actually sit down and do the math on time spent to obtain this information outside the association, an HBA membership is incredibly low cost. 

Knowledge is an absolute benefit of membership and if utilized properly will pay for your HBA membership multiple times over.  Last week's post, combined with this week's post, are two opportunities for you to receive that proverbial return on investment. The excuse "I'm not receiving any business from the association" is an excuse not to re-invest in membership that is only a viable excuse  to you. The differences between a sales representative and a sales professional are the tools that you add to your sales kit. The HBA can't teach you to be likable or be trustworthy; again, that's on you. The HBA can't influence your pricing or how you make deliveries; completely up to your company and, by extension, you. What the HBA can do is teach you the business of building from a completely different viewpoint IF you are willing to be more than just a sales representative.

March 18, 2012

"The Value of NAHB: Volunteerism as a Benefit"

Two weeks ago, I published an article by NAHB's CEO Jerry Howard highlighting (click here)"The Value of NAHB Membership." The article described several areas where builder members benefited, financially, by NAHB actions. On the surface, an associate would remark, "that's great but what benefits do I gain by being an NAHB member?" I won't go into detail here, as I have written in past blog articles, but as I am known to say, "if it affects builders, it will affect associates." Let's move from the legislative benefits that provide sales opportunities and let's look at the "other" benefits of membership for an associate. If you look closely, these types of benefits are rewarding IF you take advantage of all the HBA has to offer you and your company. Past articles, here on "Association Maximization," such as (click here)"Social Capital" can  help you understand the value of NAHB membership. Read the article, then come back and continue reading.

Hopefully you read the article and I won't go into the details except for highlighting the key point  of the article; joining a committee. Understand that you cannot USE the HBA for business because that method will derail your efforts. What you are actually doing is helping the HBA through committee work and, through your efforts, you will be able to UTILIZE the HBA. 
Once you have joined a committee of interest, and are comfortable with the committee's focus, direction and who the main characters are, become actively involved on that committee. As I wrote in the previous article, other members will get to know you on a personal level. How you interact goes a long way in determining  how much trust they have in your abilities, your commitment and, most importantly, your follow through.

The obvious question that you have for me is "Mike, how can I derive valuable benefits, that will help me with a return on my HBA investment, from joining and participating on a committee?" Keep in mind that I will answer this question by focusing on associates working with other associates. The value of working with builders on committees is in the article I asked you to read.
Here are some guiding points that I believe will help you understand. :

  1. You will meet, and work with, other associates who are from different building industry disciplines but share a common interest with you; current book of business and gaining opportunities to do additional business with builders, or other associate members. This is the start of building your social capital.
  2. By growing your social capital you will be actually increasing your sales efforts. "How?" Imagine how much time and effort it takes to perform the dreaded cold call. Once you figure out the gate keeper, which could be a person or the hated voice-mail, and you have direct contact with the potential customer, you then need to convince the them to meet with you. They may very well have an existing and established relationship with your competitor(s). 67% of all cold calls take 10 months or longer to deliver business. 10 months OR LONGER. How much is that worth to you in dollars spent with regards to time and lost commissions? Developing friendships through committee involvement could help you shave off months of time because those other associates may have relationships already with your targeted potential accounts. Instead of a cold call you are personally introduced to, in most cases, the decision maker by the associates you work with at the HBA. The laws of reciprocity always apply, make sure this is a two-way street. Other advantages of utilizing other associates would also include gaining knowledge of builder job starts/projections, volume of associate company's sales and if the builder/associate is a solid account.
  3. This also applies to building relationships with the HBA executive officers. These professionals are at the forefront of our industry, know the business-active builders, as well as associates, and most likely can help with introductions. Again, reciprocity; the EO will be more inclined to help those who help the HBA. It's only human nature but mutually beneficial.
In a proverbial nutshell? You expand your sales efforts, through your social capital connections, thereby increasing your visibility and, by extension, your company's brand. The average HBA membership is approximately $650.00. I'm assuming that that may be, in some cases, less that a week's salary. Again, think about how much time it takes to develop a relationship with ONE potential customer through cold calling. I emphasized above 10 months of the 67% of the time it takes to sign up a new account. That approximately 40 weeks, take a few days or so. Is one week's salary invested to save multiple weeks of cold calling worth it? Did I mention that time frame is only for ONE potential customer?
You may say "Mike, I will be losing sales time by being involved on a committee." Yes, you will absolutely lose time if you don't utilize the committee's overall benefits and just go through the motions of volunteerism. Stop looking at it as a loss of time and become aware of the time saved by having help from fellow members. 

No one can force you to take my advice. Understand that the "potential wisdom" in my advice came from watching and learning successful associates over my past 25 years within NAHB.  All sales professionals will try and find the right angles in successful selling. At the end of the day relationship selling will always win. This is just one potential benefit of your membership investment. Next week we will discuss the potential benefit of knowledge.

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

March 11, 2012


NAHB's Membership Committee heads into each year with programs that are designed to potentially help the local HBA retain and increase their builder and associate memberships. Some locals utilize the tools, others tend to modify based on their needs. Regardless of how you look at the committee's work know that you have energized and thought provoking volunteers from around the country, working side by side with dedicated and visionary NAHB staff,  developing these programs that are designed to help you with your efforts. 

This week's guest blogger is our NAHB Membership Committee Chairman, Robin Newhouse, an associate member from Virginia. Robin will be sharing exciting and, this part's completely up to YOU, profitable news.
Robin, in bringing you this information, asks the question "can YOU BEAT 2011?"

(Note: The NAHB Associates Group on LinkedIn has started a membership discussion where members and HBA staff from across the Federation are sharing ideas on retention and recruitment. Please click here > for the discussion and contribute your thoughts, suggestions and advise. With the utilization of vehicles such as LinkedIn our Federation can work across the states and bring everyone into NAHB initiatives.)

NAHB: Working on ideas that
help you grow profitable.

Not to worry, Help is on the way!

by Robin Newhouse
2012 NAHB Membership Committee Chairman

 Now membership equals cold hard cash! Your National Association of Home Builders is stepping up to provide extra support to local HBAs with the announcement of a new membership initiative – the Beat 2011 program.

Now HBAs and Spikes can “cash in” on outstanding membership performance. Local HBAs will receive a special incentive if they grow their Builder and Associate membership by the end of 2012. Any HBA that has, as of the end of the day on December 31st, 2012, a higher Builder and Associate membership total than they had on December 31st, 2011 will receive 50% of their national dues ($75) for every additional Builder and Associate member on their roster above the prior year end total. For example, if your association ended 2011 with 200 Builder and Associate members and finishes 2012 with 220 (20 additional members), you will be eligible to receive a $1,500 incentive, to use as the local sees fit.

Every month, NAHB will recognize the leading local association and Spike from each of the seven size categories. To help sweeten the deal and encourage some friendly competition, these HBAs and Spikes will be put into a monthly drawing for a new iPad (one each for HBAs and Spikes) and will also become eligible for a special year-end grand prize drawing.

Complete details and rules for the Beat 2011 campaign can be found at

"Can YOU BEAT 2011?" 

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

March 4, 2012

"The Value of NAHB Membership"

Association Maximization is honored to have as today's guest blogger NAHB's  Jerry Howard. During the recent NAHB board of directors meeting, held at the 2012 International Builders Show in Orlando, Jerry gave an overview of the monies saved by NAHB builder members. If builders can save money, it helps them become more profitable which in turn leads to more homes being built or renovated, giving associates more opportunities to gain business. We talk about the value of advocacy in helping our industry and now we look at the value of membership as it pertains to overall business.This is yet another example of the meaning of the statement "if it affects builders it will affect associates." 

"The Value of NAHB Membership"
by Jerry Howard,
Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Home Builders

As CEO of the National Association of Home Builders, I am often asked by NAHB members and non-members alike to explain the value of membership. I like to go right to the numbers on the bottom line of the ledger to explain how NAHB’s advocacy efforts save money for its builder members.

Of course, membership in NAHB is about a lot more than just dollars and cents. It’s about networking and industry-specific education programs that are not available anywhere else. It’s difficult to put a dollar value on benefits like that.

But we can put a dollar value on advocacy. And it’s a very big number: $5.7 billion. That’s billion, with a “B.”

NAHB’s advocacy efforts in 2011 on Capitol Hill and with regulatory agencies will provide members with $5.7 billion in either reduced costs or increased revenues this year. Those savings fall into eight broad categories:

·         FHA loan limits
·         Environmental Protection Agency actions
·         Building codes
·         OSHA
·         Building materials
·         The tax code
·         HUD multifamily programs
·         Fish and Wildlife Service

Below are a few examples of these savings.

Restoration of Higher FHA Loan Limits. The best example is the reinstatement of FHA loan limits. This represents the largest share of savings for builders – $1.9 billion. In late 2011, Congress allowed higher FHA loan limits that were in effect in 2010 and 2011 to expire. Later, after an intense campaign by NAHB, the higher FHA loan limits were reinstated. Home builders would have lost more than 6,000 new home sales this year if the higher loan limits had not been reinstated. From this and other aspects of the reinstated loan limits, NAHB’s efforts saved builders just over $1.9 billion.

Environmental Protection Agency. The next largest savings – $1.4 billion – are the result of NAHB’s actions related to regulations and requirements imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Following regulatory and legal challenges by NAHB, the Environmental Protection Agency admitted that the government did not have sufficient data to support a numeric limit for stormwater discharges. EPA then withdrew its proposed numeric limit, an action that will save builders $1.2 billion this year.

A different EPA action affecting remodeling will save $240 million this year. EPA proposed a requirement that a third-party test for lead be conducted following professional remodeling of homes built before 1978. NAHB argued that EPA had already imposed a regulation that all professional remodelers must be trained in lead abatement procedures, so the “swipe test” requirement was unnecessary. Moreover, the higher costs associated with the test would cause some people who would otherwise use the services of a professional trained in lead paint remediation to do the work themselves or hire an UNcertified contractor. In response to NAHB’s concerns, EPA later withdrew the proposal. At $260 per room, requiring the test would have cost professional remodelers $240 million this year.

Tax Code. The expanded 1099 reporting requirement in the tax code would have required companies to file a 1099 form for every corporate purchase over $600. NAHB strongly objected to the reporting requirement, and it was removed, saving members $140 million. 

Advocacy and Other Benefits

The examples above represent just three out of the many ways that NAHB’s advocacy efforts provided tangible savings for members.

There’s no question that $5.7 billion is a very impressive number. But that really is just a fraction of the value that NAHB provides. Members tell us time and again that the three things they value most from NAHB are advocacy, education and networking opportunities.

NAHB’s wide array of local, state and national events provide excellent networking opportunities for builder members and associate members. Likewise, our highly-regarded educational programs are offered by local associations, at events like the Green Building Conference, at the International Builders’ Show and – increasingly – on the Internet. And then there is the value of being able to call the EO at our local or state association – or talking to staff in Washington – to get answers to the questions that keep us awake at night.

The bottom line is that NAHB membership is an excellent value for builders and associates alike. At every level – from the local HBA to the state HBA to NAHB headquarters in Washington – helping members stay in business and thrive is our top priority.

We have 240 staff working on members’ behalf developing educational programs, creating networking opportunities and representing members’ interests in very challenging legislative and regulatory arenas.  NAHB’s 80-person advocacy staff includes lobbyists, lawyers, regulatory professionals, economists and public affairs specialists delivering value to members every day.

The $150 of membership dues that goes to NAHB purchases $5.7 billion for the housing industry.

That’s good for your bottom line, and a nice return on your investment.

Note: Jerry Howard has over 25 years of association experience and a lifetime in the housing industry.  Jerry began his association career at the National Association of Realtors, where he served as a Legislative Analyst for tax issues. Prior to joining NAHB, Jerry served as the Chief Lobbyist for the National Council of State Housing Agencies where he was instrumental in the development of the low-income housing tax credit as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Jerry came to NAHB as tax counsel in 1988 and served in a variety of roles, including Chief Lobbyist. Jerry was promoted to Executive Vice President & Chief Executive Officer in February 2001. Before embarking on his association career, Jerry practiced real estate law in his home state of South Carolina. His exposure to the housing industry has literally encompassed a lifetime; Jerry grew up working in a variety of roles for his father, a developer.Jerry earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Vermont and received his Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina. He, his wife Christina and their children Eirann, Meaghan and Sean live in Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP