Here is how I’ve been able to make this work for my company. I think you could make it work for yours too.
Sometimes to get something, giving is the best currency.
At the January meeting I shared how important it’s been for Red House that I’ve been involved with PRO New England. When I joined Professional Remodeling Organization, I didn’t know the difference between markup and margin. I didn’t have a yearly budget set for our company (and I didn’t know a company needed one…) I’d just hired my first overhead employee. Even though I was quite overwhelmed by it all, I was determined and driven by a vision of the future, and by my passion for this craft, we share as professional remodelers.
My main reason for joining PRO New England was to push the level, and self-perception, of professionalism for our carpenters, turning them into certified leaders. Giving them the opportunity to pin a badge on their chest that allowed them to behave and feel differentiated from their peers at other companies.
The CLC provided another merit as well. These men and women were able to go home to their families and demonstrate that their company felt they were not just carpenters, but they were working managers, certified and designated lead carpenters. This was my motivation for joining PRO, and it worked. Our Leads have prided themselves on their level of control over a project, with homeowners asking specifically for only their Lead Carpenter to return for the next project. They become true stewards of the homes they work on, and their clients become their advocates. In turn, those carpenters became quite loyal to the vision of our company.
While the certification opportunities led me to PRO New England, there have been so many other benefits to membership. Building a team of certified professionals, and a culture of education and expertise has been one step in building a better business. The real benefit of membership, however, was tucked in the folds of participation.
At dinner meetings, I was able to meet and mingle with folks whose companies were at the same level as Red House at the time. However, what I realized during each meeting was that I was also talking to folks who have figured this business out, 20-35 year veterans of the industry. And, they saw promise for my company’s future as well. Small conversations opened my eyes to what a true office manager could accomplish, and what type of margin might be appropriate for me to run the business effectively. And even now, I met with a PRO member two weeks ago who turned me on to using an online assessment for hiring a new key employee. (Which was an amazing tool, by the way! Catch me at a meeting and I’ll tell you all about it.)
Over the past five years that I’ve participated in PRO New England, my involvement has been an investment, I’ll admit. I’ve leveraged increased participation on the board of directors and the PR & Marketing Committee to learn from our organization’s world-class staff and the incredible professionals who volunteer their time to serve our mission. Through putting in genuine interest, time, and effort, my payback has been tenfold, and I’ve begun long-lasting relationships with the type of peers who will continue to shape and mold a better future for my company and the industry overall.