April 29, 2012

"30 Seconds; Ready, Begin!"

"What Do You Do?"  

That is a question most associate members, and builders, are asked at general membership meetings after introductions are made. How do you respond when the question is asked of you?
  • I sell lumber?
  • I provide insurance?
  •  I am a sale rep for lighting fixtures?
  • I'm a mortgage broker? 
  • I'm a home builder?
  • I'm a remodeler?
Those are just a few of the many disciplines in the member ranks and those are typically the answers to the question, "what Do You Do?" Quite honestly, nothing exciting there.

You have 30 seconds to present yourself, for the first time. Each person has their own uniqueness, their own brand. Chances are, though, you haven't given it much thought. If you do, great. For those who don't let's discuss this a bit further. 

Let's start with the basics of a 30 Second Commercial:
  • who you are
  • your company's name
  • the product or service you offer
  • the type of customer you provide your product/service for
  • how you are different that your competition 
Seems like more than 30 seconds worth of information but you will be able to streamline after giving it some thought. Take the above information and write it down. After you do, rehearse the answers and blend them together. One tip is to record your 30 second commercial, either just voice or by webcam recording. This would be a better way because you can see yourself deliver the message, facial expressions included. Some would say that in front of a mirror is good as well. It is good, but the video play back is better. You have the chance to "see" how others would see you and hear you.

Your 30 second commercial should be the same for everyone you meet in the association. If, after the person you are talking to has an interest, you can elaborate and turn your your 30 seconds into two minutes. Always remember it's not about you, it's about how interesting the other person finds you through what you have to say.

This blog article will be encouraged to be interactive. There are comment opportunities on the bottom of this article. This blog is also place on LinkedIn and Facebook where there are additional comment opportunities on those two sites. Everyone can help all of us be just a little bit better, so I hope you are not shy (if you are what are you doing in sales?) and contribute. Associates and builders both need to work on their 30 second commercial. Builders are always looking for opportunities in the building industry and they need to be memorable as well. Builders are also selling to potential home buyers, as is all the builder's competitors in the area. What makes you attractive to the customer is that first impression.

Here is a link to a site that can help you even further  "How to Write Your 30 Second Commercial Exercise" (click here)

As the building industry starts to become better, and it certainly is starting to look like it is, it's time for all of us to get back to the basics of networking to improve sales. After all, that is what we are here for within the association, after the need for advocacy for all members.

Submitted by:

April 22, 2012

"Old Photos and Tales of Past"

"The dimming of the light makes the picture clearer. It's just an old photograph, there's nothing to hide,  when the world was just beginning." - David Byrne & Brian Eno

The above picture is The Builders Association of Northern New Jersey's 1952 Installation Banquet, held at The Hotel Commodore in New York City. The local was chartered by NAHB in 1944 so this picture is really a great snap shot of a time when most local HBAs were forming, creating an identity for themselves. Leaders then were trail blazers, they had to be. This was all new to them. This local, in its heyday, was the most politically active in NJ and wielded influential power within the state. Today, due to the northeastern part of the state's old housing stock and scarcity of open land, the local is now known as The Builders and Remodelers Association of Northern New Jersey. Times change, members come and then leave, only to have new members begin the cycle. 

History is a wonderful tool. Understand it, but don't dwell within it. Remember it, but don't stop creating it yourself. One of the great tributes we have as an association is NAHB's Housing Center. The Center has The Past Presidents (now past chairmen) Wall with all their photographs proudly hanging, displayed for all to see when visiting. From the first president to the immediate past chairman. NAHB also has the Housing Hall of Fame, complete with plaques featuring the likeness of the builder Hall of Famer and the accomplishments of the recipient.  The associates have a Society of Honored Associates, designed to highlight those associates who have made an impact on our Federation. History. It should be respected and preserved so others can see, read, maybe even feel the past.

I believe it is important to understand the history of our association, and the key members that have built each and every local HBA. How the state HBAs formed was really a rallying mechanism to unite all the local chapters to focus on the core reason for an association; advocacy within the state's capitol. NAHB is built exactly like the state HBAs were built, but for a nationwide unification of advocacy within Washington, DC. These associations didn't build themselves and they certainly weren't created out of thin air. Passion was the key motivator, commitment was the engine that utilized the passion. Still is, but by an entirely different group of members. 

Take a good look at the above photograph again. You will be in one exactly like it in 60 years and the point is this; will anyone remember you? Think back 30 years. 20 years. 10, go back even 1 year. How many people have left us and we have nothing but an old picture to remember them by? If we remember them at all. Our association's history is rich and long. If it weren't for our past members, we probably wouldn't have an association, at least not like the one we have today.Take a look a what you are doing to keep your past ever present utilizing it to build a better tomorrow.

History must be written by and for the current members. While we still can all remember.

Submitted by:
Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

April 15, 2012

"Remembering a Housing Legend"

What I am about to share may not resonate with you but for those in HBAs across our Federation who have lost a legendary member, you'll understand and you will remember, again, the teachings of the true reason we are here as volunteers and why it matters.

Frank Farinella

"Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy." ~ Unknown

As I write I feel a tremendous sadness for a loss and a slight smile of remembrance of a person who helped shape me as I am today as it pertains to my involvement with the home builders association.

Frank Farinella passed away this past Wednesday, April 11th, 2012. His passing means that Heaven's home building team became deeper with talent and, more importantly, immeasurably deeper with passion. Frank always cared deeply about housing and that caring was passed on to his four children, two of whom are builders, as well as all the builders and associates in his world. I knew Frank, but my friendship with him came towards the latter part of his life. The history that I know about Frank came from those many members he mentored and worked with, shoulder to shoulder, on protecting the dream of home-ownership. 

The phrase "time, talent and treasure" did not begin with Frank but he certainly brought it to a much higher and meaningful level. Frank served as the president of the New Jersey Builders Association in 1975 and he also served on the executive board and the board of directors of the National Association of Home Builders. He later was inducted into the National Housing Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. During his time in our Federation his daughter, Mary Caporaso, and son-in-law, Steve Caporaso, both served as presidents of NJBA. This is a direct result of the values and visions that Frank shared with his family, but others he guided towards leadership as well. Frank believed with all his heart that he had to give back to the industry tenfold from what he received. He believed that building homes for families was a noble profession and his HBA leadership roles, and the way he led his professional life, would not have been any different. Looking back he would most likely would have said "I wish there were more I could have done."

Frank was the consummate straight talker and he lived by the adage "say what you mean and mean what you say" and then some. He never backed away from a challenge and when he committed to the initiative it was a masterpiece of leadership. Builders, such as fellow NAHB Hall of Famer and past NJBA president Len Sendelsky, would share with me stories of PAC meetings or board meetings where passions ran so high, all for the love of our association and industry, you would have thought a physical fight would break out, with Frank in the mix the entire way. When the meetings were over the love and fellowship of peers and friends took its natural perch at the top of it all and Frank was loved even deeper. Associate leader Lenny Yanchar explained to me that one of his greatest mentors was Frank Farinella. Lenny would share with me, over the years, and to this day, Frank's vision of what the association is truly all about and why "we do what we do." Lenny would say that if it weren't for mentors like Frank he would not have realized the importance of working together as an industry, not as builder and associate. Lenny has mentored the way Frank taught and those lessons have proved their value time and time again.

Each visit to the NAHB Housing Center in Washington, more specifically when the executive board meets, I always look up at the name over the entrance way to the meeting room and proudly see Frank Farinella's name etched in the plaque which identifies the room. Some may have known Frank, others just see a name. I saw a man, a father, a leader, a home building industry legend. I also see his guidance through those whose lives he touched which is more meaningful than any plaque can express. Those teachings are making their way down to the next generation of NJBA members, reaching out across the Federation. The next HBA generation may not have known who Frank was and what he accomplished for all of us, or even have heard Frank's name spoken, but they certainly can and will feel a tremendous presence which is all Frank Farinella.

God Speed, Frank. We will never forget what you meant to all of us here in New Jersey within your  "NJBA family" and we will miss you, more than we will ever realize. I'm sure you are making your arrival well known up above and those meetings of "Heavens members" are much more engaged and enthused.

Submitted by:
Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP, a beneficiary of Frank Farinella's life's lessons, and on behalf of all of Frank's NJBA family.

April 8, 2012

"The Value of an Education; an NAHB Education"

To conclude our "NAHB Value" series of articles, we have as our special guest blogger Dianne Beaton, CGA, CAPS, our NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman. This week Dianne will highlight the value of an NAHB Education.

"Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire." - William Butler Yeats

I know quite a few industry professionals, from around the country, and it seems to me that those who have decided to learn more about their industry are successful. The National Association of Home Builders offers to members, and non-members courses that can elevate industry professionals to industry leaders. These courses can be quite an advantage and collectively they will bring you coveted NAHB designations. Offered through NAHB Education (clickhere for more information)  there are multiple designations to choose from, such as the Certified Graduate Associate, designed to help the associate member understand the builders' business, with the Basics of Building course as an example,  so that the associate can be an asset to his or her customers. There are courses designed for builder members to achieve the Certified Graduate Builder. There are courses that have been designed for the remodeling professional Certified Graduate Remodeler designation. In addition, there are courses for green building, aging in place, sales & marketing of new homes, to name a few. With additional courses, these will help to further your knowledge of each designation and strengthen the designations' worth.

How does this bring you value? On a personal level it separates you from having a job and enjoying a career! The more you know and understand about our industry the more you will gain. As a marketing tool for associates, your designation(s) separates you from your competitors as an expert and certified by NAHB. When consulting, selling product or service, through your discussions with your customer, you could proudly offer what your designations stand for and the education that came with the certification. As a builder, or remodeler, your designation could be marketed as a "good housekeeping seal of approval." When selling homes or remodeling projects, a new home or improvement prospect will feel more at ease with you because of your certification.”  Whatever your career description is, there are courses designed just for you and designations geared towards elevating you above your competition.

I have the honor of chairing the NAHB Associate Members Committee for 2012 and one of our sub-committees, Training and Designations, has a core purpose of promoting NAHB Education and making sure our members back at our home local HBAs understand the value of an NAHB education. There is no substitute for continuing education. It sharpens your mind, develops other avenues to market you and your company and you won't find it anywhere but in the "halls of NAHB."

Note: Your local HBA may have the availability of offering courses. If not, a neighboring local probably will.

If all else fails, contact  NAHB Professional Designation Help Line at 800-368-5242 x8154 or via email at designations@nahb.org.  and ask if the course(s) are offered through webinar.

Submitted by:
Dianne Beaton, CGA, CAPS
2012 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman

April 1, 2012

"The Value of NAHB: Self Branding as a Benefit"

"If you don't know what you bring to the table, you'll never get a seat there." - unknown

You, Inc. How others see you is the difference between being in the crowd or being the that bright light everyone can see. Our association has many members but think for a moment; how many actually stand out and by standing out I'm not talking about self promotion. I'm speaking about your personal brand of professionalism. Whether you are self employed or are employed by someone else you are the focal point to any business opportunities that may be generated. 

Think about these questions:
  1. What makes you unique?
  2. How are you perceived? 
  3. Do others "see" you in a crowd?
There are ways of branding yourself as a professional and there are ways of self promoting. Self promotion is the number one turn off switch for most people, including association members. Self promotion can be as blatant as a person that doesn't stop talking about themselves or a subtle as constantly handing out business cards. (Note: The value of a business card is not how many you hand out but by how many you are asked for.) The key to sales opportunities has never been with the look of your company polo shirt or the golf ball with your company logo. It's what you do past all the fluff that matters, your brand, who you are. Just as important; what you bring to the table. The association has many benefits if you look closely but one of the more useful, as it pertains to your brand, is making contact with fellow members through You, Inc. The following self branding vehicles that you could utilize are amazing, in my opinion, if you utilize them correctly;

  1. Speaking at a general membership
  2. Writing an article for your HBA publication
  3. Writing a blog that is relevant to our industry and/or association
  4. Social media such as LinkedIn or Facebook that have groups or pages that have other HBA members participating.
The idea for each is simple and worth repeating; provide information that is relevant to the association and/or industry without selling. For instance, speaking at a general membership meeting could mean talking about the importance of the event/initiative or asking pertinent questions of a speaker. In both cases you should always identify yourself and your company but then let the conversation focus on the topic at hand. You could talk about a product that is relevant to home sales or could bring value to another associate member. But stay focused on the benefits of the product, do not sell. It's very tempting to sell, I know, but if you can master the knowledge of the difference between the two you will be on another level of sales. Same thoughts should be applied when writing either an article for a newsletter or your own blog. Who you are and represent (in your signature of article), then stay on topic. 
One of the best places to self brand is social media, and in particular, LinkedIn. Starting a discussion or joining in and contributing to a discussion is a great way to self brand but do not sell. Selling is posting links to your business, self branding is sharing your thoughts that, if interesting and timely, could lead others to view your profile and they will then learn about who you work for. Do you understand the difference? Nobody wants to be sold but everybody will gravitate towards something that interests them. Remember what I wrote earlier? "The value of a business card is not how many you hand out but by how many you are asked for." The same theory applies in all self branding efforts. As a member of NAHB, and the multiple local and state HBAs that make up our Federation, You, Inc could thrive if you don't sell. You could never get the same opportunity to showcase your knowledge in such  an effective and efficient manner without HBA membership. To do so on your own would take years and even then you would constantly need to start over. 

Your HBA membership gives you the opportunity to shine, stand out, differentiate.  This is almost impossible to do on your own. How much is your yearly membership cost again? Or should I ask, how much are you gaining from your HBA investment?

Submitted by:
Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP