12. Professional Associations or Affiliations
Some contractors find little need to belong to organizations, while others are “joiners.” There are many obvious benefits to belonging to organizations, yet some contractors seem to belong for all of the wrong reasons. Many businesses belong to the Better Business Bureau because it looks good and consumers expect it of them. Some contractors belong to an association to project the image of professionalism. They do it to buy credibility. The trick is to ask enough questions to determine which kind of contractor your prospective contractor is.
Local, state and national organizations help to keep their members informed about new products, construction techniques, business practices and industry issues. Through certification programs, these organizations confer designations on those who meet the requirements. Ask your contractor what, if any, associations or organizations they belong to. Ask them about the length of time they have been members. Ask them about what level of participation they have taken in these organizations. Do they go to meetings, seminars, conferences and trade shows? Ask them if they have taken any classes to further their knowledge of the industry or if they have held any leadership positions in these organizations. Ask them if they hold any designations or certifications, have won any design or construction awards or are members of a specially designated group in their industry. Membership should be a given, participation is expected (you only get what you give) and active leadership should speak volumes. Call these organizations and associations and verify the contractor’s claims with the office personnel.
Seek referrals from local trade associations, such as your area’s local Minnesota Builders Association, National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) or local Remodelers Council.
Participation demonstrates a contractor’s commitment to professionalism and the industry. With all the recent changes in materials and techniques, membership in a professional association is the best way for a contractor to keep up to date and informed through publications, seminars and annual trade shows of professional products. These organizations and associations exist to promote these businesses and have a vested interest in your satisfaction with their members. Peer review and peer pressure is one of the most potent motivators in a contractor’s business experience. These associations are one of their most valuable resources to obtaining professionalism.
Unacceptable: The contractor does not belong to any professional association.
Good: The contractor is a member and has paid his dues on a continual basis. He attends some meetings and seminars.
Better: In addition to the above, the contractor participates on committees and assumes leadership roles. The contractor enters design and/or construction award competitions and has received industry recognition.
Best: In addition to the above, the contractor is an officer and/or has assumed other responsibilities in associations. The contractor has a list of recent awards and is quoted in industry publications. The contractor is featured in local publications and is a resource to others in the industry.