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You’re up before dawn, off to the job, and may not return home until after dark. You grab a bite, shuffle through the mail, and wrap up a few loose ends before settling in for the evening. Sound familiar?
Because you’re so stretched, you don’t take the necessary time to network with other professionals to stay up on trends, technology and education that can benefit you, your team, your business, and your clients. You may think you don’t have time to be a member of an industry trade association and that you simply aren’t a “joiner.” Trust me… I understand.
Many years ago as young contractors and businessmen, my brother and I were approached by a membership representative of a national remodeling trade association. He wanted us to join and proceeded to lay out the benefits of membership, including networking, educational programs, certification, money-saving group insurance programs, and legislative power in Washington, D.C., that could benefit the industry and our business.
My brother thought it was a good idea, but I was resistant. My position was simple: “Why do we want to take time out of our already busy schedules to be around a bunch of our competitors?” The older (and wiser) brother offered his usual response to my pushback. “You’re being a small thinker,” he countered. As difficult as it is to admit, he was right.
He went on to explain it was a good idea to network with other pros that do what we do. He reminded me they weren’t an obstacle to our success, that it was was the alleged “pro”—who was, by the way, anything but a pro—that was undercutting our bids and preventing us from getting our share of business.
He went on to say that these “shade tree” contractors typically don’t have a license, worker’s compensation or general liability insurance, don’t pull permits, don’t pay fair wages or benefits, pay cash, don’t pay their taxes, and leave the consumer in a world of hurt if something goes wrong—and something always goes wrong with these crooks.
Fast forward 35 years and hundreds of meetings, events and trade shows later and the older brother was—and still is—right. Don’t be a small thinker. Make time to network. You’ll find you have much in common with other local pros, that they can be an ally, not an enemy. Together you can work to eliminate the unscrupulous contractor and the underground economy and elevate the industry in your area, enjoy a more level playing field, and save consumers a lot of heartache.
Education and certification are other terrific benefits. With advanced technology you don’t even need to leave your home or office thanks to the virtual classroom. However, you may find a trip to an annual trade show to be as invigorating as it is informative. It may give you, your team, and your business a shot in the arm you weren’t even aware you needed.
Finally, it doesn’t hurt to have an advocate in your corner who can lobby on the state or federal level to ensure our industry stays strong and prosperous. There is strength in numbers. You don’t have to be a “joiner,” but you do need to join.