Trade Associations: Take Your Business to the Next Level

  • RT Marketing
  • 05 Dec 2019

By Robert Kraay, PhD

In October I had the privilege of attending trade association conferences, including the Fall Education Experience in Denver, Colorado, hosted by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI); and the Fall Leadership Conference of the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers Council (NAHBR) in New Orleans, Louisiana. These trips were very important to me as a representative of RT Marketing because they represent a core value of our company.

NARI trade association meeting Denver, 2019

Networking during the Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove by Roth Living reception during the NARI Educational Conference in Denver.

We are focused on serving the building and remodeling community. Along with helping our remodeling clients build their own businesses through the most effective marketing programs available, we also are obligated to provide support to the remodeling industry as a whole. Memberships with national trade associations are a key part of our marketing process.

Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying,

Every man owes part of his time and money to the business or industry to which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere.

I became aware of this quote while working as Executive Officer of our local Home Builders Association, and we used it to promote trade association involvement. As I used it, I became convinced of its profound wisdom and subsequently applied it to the DNA of RT Marketing. 

Trade Associations: What Do They Do?

The trade associations actively working to increase professionalism and raise the bar in the remodeling industry are the NAHB, NARI, and the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA).  Each association has its areas of strength and sometimes competes with the others. But what each organization has in common is a group of dedicated business men and women, volunteers who have looked beyond their own individual businesses, and dedicated significant time and resources to make remodeling, as a whole, more professional and better respected throughout the country. 

They strive to engage remodelers in their local communities and then provide those remodelers with education, both technical and general business education. They get remodelers together to network and learn best practices from each other. They work with local, state, and national governments to develop appropriate safety measures for both the homeowners who will be living in their remodeled homes and for the workers on the job. And they resist regulation that, in their experience, does more harm than good. 

Most association work is done on the local level, in NARI and NKBA Chapters and in the local Remodelers Councils of HBAs. But there are certain members of local Councils and Chapters who have a greater drive to improve themselves and their businesses. They are the ones who look beyond their own geography and become involved at the national level. 

National Trade Association: Goals of Membership

The mix of people at this national level includes professionals who have already absorbed a high level of industry knowledge and best practices through education and networking and have applied them in their own businesses at home. These professionals stay involved in the national association and want to give back to the group that helped them become what they are.

Leadership at trade association meeting for NAHBR, fall 2019

Left to Right: Chantel Bartlett NAHBR staff; Tim Ellis, NAHBR Chair; and Tom Ashley, NAHBR Vice-chair at the Fall Board of Trustees meeting, New Orleans.

There is another group of people at this level, those who are thirsty for learning and want to learn the best practices from tried-and-true experts. They want to take these ideas back to their own businesses and bring those businesses up to the next level. These may be relatively small contractors, or they may have rather large and successful organizations. But they are all working to make their businesses more successful, while at the same time asserting their leadership, passion, and skills toward improving remodeling around the country—including in their own local areas.

We’ve had clients tell us that they would rather compete for a project against a fellow association member who really knows his or her businesses than against a remodeler who doesn’t have a clue and will end up disappointing through a shoddy project or a poor workflow.

Get Involved!

If you are a remodeler and fit either one of these two categories—already successful and working competently and knowledgeably in your “sweet spot,” or wanting to develop your business beyond your current capabilities—then I would strongly recommend that you check out the national opportunities offered by your association and plan to attend.

I can practically guarantee you, if you go this route and become involved nationally, you will receive the tools that will transform your business. Any investment you make in this direction will be rewarded tenfold and more! If you doubt me, give me a call and I’ll connect you to any number of remodelers in your national association who have already done that.

If you are going to the International Builders Show/Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas, January 2020, you’ll be able to speak with the NARI and NKBA representatives in their respective booths.

To learn more about NAHBR, visit the Remodeling Central where there will be ongoing programming to help remodelers, along with representatives from the association. 

blurred crowd at trade association convention

Networking Opportunities

Another principle you’ll find at work within associations is that of “doing business with a member.” You’ll find that this approach does pay off, because then you know that your business associates carry the same knowledge and understanding that you have and are gaining. 

This principle comes back to the trips I made in October to the NARI and NAHBR meetings. In Denver I networked and sat together with top-notch remodelers from around the country in education sessions describing how to manage the custom remodeling project, and how to deliver a “great customer experience.” In New Orleans, as I currently serve on the NAHBR Board of Trustees, we deliberated upcoming challenges to the remodeling industry, like the OSHA Silica Rule or helping local associations deliver relevant content to newer members in a changing society.

With this activity I truly hope I am making a difference in the industry on which my company relies. 

The RT Marketing Difference

I also believe that the knowledge and relationships I develop on this level help my niche marketing company, RT Marketing, deliver a higher level of service than companies that are not so engaged. We know and understand the mindset of a remodeler. We understand the process of a remodeling project. We know the challenges that remodelers face—both from the technical and business side. Through managing the marketing programs of some of the best remodelers in the country who are involved at this level, we not only offer them the confidence that their marketing program is being executed with the highest level of competence, but we can also talk with them knowledgeably about pretty much any other part of their business because we are so deeply integrated in the industry. 

And, just like you, we have a passion to grow our business—both in quality and in terms of new clients. We would love to have the opportunity to show you how this understanding of our mutual industry can be used to establish your company in your market using tried-and-true best practices along with the latest innovations! Fill out our get started form or please give us a call at 828-328-8956.