Networking at the golf course or annual fishing outing is fine, but strategic business growth can best be found by joining a professional organization like your local HBA or NARI chapter and getting actively involved in making our industry stronger. Networking and business building groups like Builder 20 or Remodeler 20 Clubs, Remodelers Advantage Roundtables, or BNI offer specific guidance in reviewing and building your business plan for the year and strategic marketing to gain ideal referrals to build your client base.
The transparent sharing of business financials and best practices may seem like a highly risky endeavor; however, builders and remodelers across the country are finding much support and strategic growth for their own companies when partnering with like-minded business owners. Business accountability and networking groups are positively impacting all types of businesses, and builders and building subcontractors can benefit from joining a professional growth group that best suits their company’s growing needs. For some builders, working to build clientele with other local businesses may be more appealing than working with builders from across the country. If this is the case for you, consider building relationships with a local group of service industry professionals to refer clients to one another.
Remodelers Advantage offers Roundtables™, “a peer-group program that brings together smart, savvy, non-competing companies to share experiences and help one another improve company performance.” By being placed in contact with a group of remodelers from across the country, business owners can freely share best business practices and offer advice to one another while discussing trends and issues within the industry. Remodelers meet in person twice per year and participate in monthly teleconferences to network and make their businesses stronger. Details may be found at: remodelersadvantage.com.
Business Networking International (BNI) offers weekly networking sessions among local non-competing businesses. During a typical meeting, an individual company is showcased, and the group probes to discover what the ideal client referral for that company would look like. All meetings include weekly member presentations where BNI members share with one another what their business can offer to clients and what their ideal referral is. The global vision of BNI is to “change the way the world does business”; the Georgia region of BNI adds to this by “building thriving communities of professionals who believe that investing in others’ success is the path to prosperity.”
Although some tradespeople may be reluctant to give up an hour and a half a week to marketing, David Alexander, Executive Director of BNI’s southeast region and bestselling author of Networking Like A Pro, explains, “To be successful in business not only do you have to be good at your trade, you also have to take time for marketing your business. Networking is vital to business, and it is important to realize that the time spent developing relationships at BNI will fill your funnel with referrals.” Within BNI there are power teams for businesses that complement each other directly. A builder, plumber, interior designer, realtor, and paver may be a service power team that works even closer on building business together. Alexander has observed, “Over the years, builders have commented that 20-50% of business comes from referrals—especially if they get involved in a trades power team.” That’s a powerful testament to the importance of networking.
As Alexander points out, “Tradespeople are very focused on their trade but sometimes do not focus on marketing. BNI gives a systematic approach to marketing. BNI gives them high quality referrals that are valuable.” When joining a BNI chapter, your company will be the only one representing your line of business. This ensures that all building, roofing, or remodeling referrals, for instance, would come straight to you from all other members of the chapter. The idea is to boost referrals by basically having a motivated group of business professionals offering your services to their clients in their businesses.
Locally BNI has active chapters in Athens, Metro Atlanta, Metro Atlanta suburbs, Savannah, and Columbus. Interested in learning more or visiting a local BNI chapter? Check out bni.comfor details. Click on “Find a Chapter” and search by your city or zip code. They are starting chapters throughout the state including Macon and St. Simons/Brunswick and would welcome builders and those in building trades to join.
Perhaps your business’s New Year’s Resolution will include joining your local association chapter of HBA, NARI, BNI, etc., as you realize the untapped power of networking with other construction industry professionals.