January 28, 2016

Are Your Board Members Prepared?

Your installation dinner has most likely concluded and you have a new president and probably new board members, blended in with the established ones. Are those new board members ready to serve, meaning, are they ready to serve with full understanding of what the home builders association board's responsibilities entail? I would even go as far to say that maybe some of your existing board members may need a refresher on their role and responsibilities while serving. Even if your board is top notch, this National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) article can help in so many ways but, at the very least,as an orientation for your "freshman class." Our local HBAs are so important to our state HBAs and NAHB, as well as our overall industry. Why take a chance?

Board Readiness Assessment
This assessment is your opportunity to determine your board member's readiness to serve as a member of the association’s board of directors.
Answer “yes” or “no” to each statement. Circle the number of those which are “no.” It will help you identify the information your board member needs to acquire to be an effective trustee.
The outcome of this assessment should remain confidential. The executive officer and HBA president are the only people who will review it. To benefit from the information that can be gained, it is important that your board member be instructed to answer these statements as honestly as possible.
Legal Compliance
1.    I am familiar with the contents of the association’s bylaws.
2.    I know the association’s major policies and procedures (membership, budget allocation, personnel, etc.).
3.    I am fully aware of whether the association is carrying directors and officers insurance.
4.    I know what types of government reports need to be submitted by the association.
5.    I know how I am legally responsible for the association.
1.    I know the parameters of my role as a board member.
2.    I am aware of the elements which make up the association’s flow of authority.
3.    I understand the depth of my responsibility as a board member.
4.    I know the kinds of things the association should avoid to retain its good name.
5.    I know the parameters (if applicable) for approving or disapproving applications for membership.
1.    I have already set time aside each month on my calendar for the association’s board of directors and general membership meetings.
2.    I know how to evaluate our association’s strategic plan to ensure it is realistic and can be accomplished.
3.    I understand my role in the overall association planning process.
4.    I know who should be included in the planning process.
Operating Resources
1.    I know how to read and understand a budget balance sheet.
2.    I know how to evaluate the monthly financial reports.
3.    I know the standard reserves amount the association should strive to reach to be more secure in its operation.
4.    I know how to determine if resources should be allocated to fund a new association project.
1.    I know what the appropriate process is to acquire funds for new projects.
2.    I understand how policy is set in the association.
3.    I know why the board must read and approve committee reports.
4.    I know whether I am considered an association spokesperson and what that role means.
What top three issues should occupy the board’s time and attention during the coming year?

January 14, 2016

Why Teddy Was Right...

 ... and still is today.

Theodore Roosevelt said "every man owes part of his (and her) time and money to the business or industry in which he (she) is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his (her) support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his (her) sphere."  

Great words then, sound advice now, which leads me to my article today; Political Action Committees (PAC). PACs are well known as a "money source to aid special interests." I can't argue with that thought because it basically is. All industries have a PAC. Maybe they don't all call it a PAC but trust me, it is. The other part is the special interest tie-in; who doesn't have a special interest? EVERYBODY has a connection to a special interest. My special interest is very simple; my job or better stated the protection and growth opportunities for my job. 

Suffice it to say, all of us in the home building industry would share, to some degree, in my special interest. Being that I make my living in arguably the most regulated and legislated industry in the United States, I rely on the skill set and powers of persuasion of key employees of the National Association of Home Builders for Washington, D.C. interactions and key staff members from my state association in my state capital, to work with those who make the laws have full understanding of outcomes of said laws.
PACs come into play to help support the campaigns of those who provide level headed discussions and direction towards our industry. So why do quite a few of our  members cringe when they hear PAC? They assume "money out of pocket." No one likes to throw away cash; we work to hard to earn it. There is a disconnect, however, on how we actually earn our cash, our income and/or our profits. If you connect the dots in my above statements it will be very clear that PACs are not cash out of pocket but the means of restoring said cash and more.

We need to to a much better job at selling PAC. Any business looking to sell has to start with a marketing plan. What does marketing look like today? Marketing, more and more, is a conversation and the days of brands “talking at” people are numbered if not gone. What we need to look at as part of our PAC conversation is simple messaging from our best “customers” to potential buyers. We hear all the time about testimonials, online reviews, etc. It's all about trust in an individual and the passion the exude that will help sell the PAC. NAHB started a program, several years ago, that we still utilize in language; Peer to Peer, PAC investor to member or affiliate of record. Notice I wrote PAC investor, meaning to invest, and not contribute. 
There is a huge difference in messaging between invest and contribute;

  • A contribution would indicate that it’s a onetime “hit” on the members wallet. Same could be said for the description "donation."
  • An investment would indicate taking ownership in the process
Check out these definitions and tell me which is more appropriate for what we are trying to accomplish;

a gift or payment to a common fund or collection.
"charitable contributions"


the action or process of investing money for profit or material result.

While contribution definition states "payment to a common fund," which could be a PAC, most would politely turn down the opportunity. 
By its very nature, an investment means the investor is looking for a return. BUILD-PAC fits the bill because it does realize, as the definition states, a profit (through more business opportunities) and material result (career security, growth, etc.).

All of the above is food for thought, to get you started in maybe changing they way you/we sell PAC going forward. The basics of how we market and sell our respective goods and services is how we should approach PAC fundraising. Where there is a need there is good conversation. With good conversation comes sincerity. We just have to identify what it is, exactly, we are looking for and how long it is needed.

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

January 7, 2016

New Year Resolution for Your Career: Get Involved!

You Know You Have!
Resolutions, specifically New Year's resolutions; I've heard them all and tried most of them as well. First week, great. Second week, still great but... Third week, OK. Fourth week, well there's always next year. Amazing, isn't? All the great intentions you declared through your New Year's Resolution are down the river, out to sea, see ya.

Everybody has those great intentions, in one way or another and some actually make it and are much better for their resolve.  I've resolved to eat healthier and can even pronounce quinoa (KEEN-wah for you novices). First week, GREAT! This article, however, isn't about my "new" lifestyle or calling out people who back off resolutions. This article is, as others have been in past issues, about you and our association. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which you are absolutely a member of through your local area home builders association (HBA), is about the home building industry. It's about providing a unified voice for all our members. Those members include builders and all those businesses that profit from a builder building a home. Builders and associates, together, one voice, one goal... a career. A career in the home building industry is a noble one. Think about it; you just finished up your holidays with family and friends, and where did the core of your activities take place? In a home, built by a builder for a family. That home was built with a roof, walls, floors, heat and lighting with the furnishings all being provided by associates. Let's not forget the services required to buy the home; mortgage, lawyers, title companies, etc. We, the members were a part of the holiday memories because we housed most of those memories.

I'm going to provide you with a New Year's Resolution that will help you professionally. If you are having success with your career, other resolutions will most likely be successful as well.

The resolution? Get involved with your HBA. If your chosen career is within the home building industry I will stress the resolution one more time; get involved. The HBA is providing you with the opportunity to meet like-minded building industry professionals. No one person can go it alone and the strength the HBA provides, in numbers, is worth the involvement. You, the member, benefit from every single thing that our association accomplishes in Washington, D.C. and in your respective state capitols. 

How you can help is quite simple; get involved! Each step below can be your individual resolution depending on which steps you've already taken:
  • Attend your general membership meetings. How can you expand your business opportunities if you're isolated? Get involved!
  • Network, meet people, engage in conversation, learn about others and have others get to know you. Word of mouth has always been the most trusted form of advertising (and it's fee!). Develop your social capital. You quite possibly can expand your sales team and the cost is true reciprocity. This only can work positively for you if you get involved!
  • Join a committee. Start off fun, possibly golf. You may be asking "how does joining a golf committee help me?" It helps you by bringing in net profits to the HBA which keeps its doors open and in turn help you as the one voice in your state capitol. It also helps you to expand your networking and have others see you in a leadership light. You could also join committees that deal with the issues of our industry; political action, legislative, legal, etc. This helps you by gaining detailed knowledge of your industry. To blindly go out and not know what's in the road is foolish thinking. The HBA gives you the education; get involved!
  • Serve on your HBA board of directors and see how the HBA truly maneuvers in this highly legislated and regulated industry of ours. Serving on the board will help you with your business plans, short term and long range, if you look at it from the standpoint of improving your career. All you need to do is... get involved!

I can go further but if you've made it to the board level momentum will take you much further. By getting involved you have made one resolution that I know you can stick with through the year because you want to provide for your family or have to save the funds to start a family. You may want your home, built by a builder, to be secure in the knowledge that you are successful and you are making resolutions to keep being successful. There may be some who are reading this thinking "I've tried this and it didn't work." Many successful people have failed, many times and sometimes miserably. Determination is the key characteristic followed by passion and then knowledge. The HBA can't provide the first two, that's on you. However knowledge brings many things to those who want it. Knowing the HBA by getting involved will give you insight that those on the outside will never have. How's that for a resolution result? All you need to do is...

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGA