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Your Peers Are Waiting to Help You

April 30, 2007
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Despite the overall optimistic tone which usually exists at winter industry meetings, speaking with contractor attendees reminds us that we still have a number of very serious issues facing our future. Increasing fuel and other costs, shortage of technicians, and increased competition are just a few of the issues that we must be concerned about. But what is the best way to deal with all of these issues and concerns? I want to take this opportunity to make a pitch for the importance of getting involved with other contractors.

There are several ways to make contacts with other contractors in order to share the issues and problems that you are experiencing. The most obvious is to join one of the national contractor associations and, just as importantly, to become a part of their local chapter.

The national associations have a great deal of resources, which they are anxious to share with their members. Getting involved on the local level not only allows you to make valuable contacts with fellow contractors and industry suppliers, but also provides the opportunity to discuss issues that are specific to your market.

PEER TO PEER

Another excellent way to obtain input on issues of concern to you is to become a part of a “mix” or “peer” group. These are typically groups of up to 10–12 contractors from noncompeting regions of the country who meet anywhere from one to three times per year. Usually the contractors deal in similar portions of the industry. That is, there are mixed groups of large commercial contractors as well as mixed groups of small residential replacement contractors and everything in between.

These mixed groups are an excellent way of adding an outside “set of eyes” to your business. The group we are currently part of meets at one contractor’s location and spends a day going over every aspect of that contractor’s business. The next half-day is spent with that contractor’s key personnel reviewing all of the groups findings. These findings include “sugar,” those are the good things, and “salt,” those are the areas where the group feels improvements could be made.

It is a very intense meeting but is extremely worthwhile for all of the participants. Not only does it help the contractor who is being reviewed, but as each contractor reviews a particular portion of the business, he is able to pick up insights that will improve his business as well.

INTERNET NETWORKING

Another new way to make contact with other contractors is to participate in one of the several Internet groups which share a myriad of ideas regarding all areas of our business. These provide an excellent method to get answers to specific issues or questions which may be of concern to you. Of course, like everything with the Internet, there is no replacement for direct personal contact. The Internet is an incredible method to share large quantities of information. But even in these Internet groups, often contractors request that another contractor contact him/her personally to discuss specific issues.

One thing to remember about joining any organization or becoming part of any type of a group of contractors is the old saying that “you only get out of something what you put into it.” That means if you join a group or organization, plan to participate in that organization. You should plan to attend their local and national meetings. Encourage your personnel to attend the various educational sessions that are typically held. And most importantly - get involved!

You will be happy to know that there are literally hundreds of contractors out there experiencing the same types of concerns and issues that you are experiencing. Take advantage of the experience that those contractors have accumulated. Join with other contractors, plan to participate, you will be pleased with all of the expertise your fellow contractors will be willing to share.

Publication date: 04/30/2007
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