As a new contractor, I was head down, working in my business. I never looked up to notice what was going on around me, I didn’t think I had the time. I’m sure many owners out there feel the same? I never thought issues mattered if they didn’t directly affect my company.
In past years, we’ve seen an increase in ridiculous “head shaking” policies. Our Washington State WISHA currently has a “4 points of contact rule when climbing a ladder.” Wait. What?? How do we navigate something like this? Staying on top of changes is tough. One, you must know when rule changes are created and when they take effect. Two, you also want to know HOW they’ve chosen to interpret the changes. As a small business owner in ANY industry, at times it feels like no one wants us to succeed.
So, how do we keep plates in the air while waiting for the next one to fly in? Membership my friends. Membership. You can receive a digestible synopsis of local rulings, saving you time reading through piles of difficult stuff. It provides you access to resources necessary to keep your business healthy - potentially saving you from costly mistakes. Professional development anyone? Best practices? Ever wonder about the rulings related to low rise foam adhesive performance? Nope, me neither. This is an actual topic from an upcoming local association dinner. Let your association give you the details!
Association memberships also draw like-minded people together to advocate for our industry. By attending dinners, or monthly meetings (which really is a small investment) I stay plugged in to our local and regional happenings. New asbestos ruling for dumping shingles? I knew months in advance. Our local group even fought for a more reasonable ruling with our local garbage/recycling company. Rarely if ever, does one person or one business garner any attention. Gather a group of businesses, however, especially if they’re all in the same industry, and people/politics take notice. Our protection, our strength, our POWER is in our collective voice.
Working within, associations have people who know far more than we do about legislation and rule-making. They have historical data to review, and they identify threats before they become rules. With legislative experience, they also know how and what to battle. All in all, stuff I just plain choose not to waste my time on learning. Mobilize me when necessary, inform me otherwise. It’s like having a sports announcer telling you all the highlights, without having to sit through an entire 4 period game. Who doesn’t like that?
As your business grows, involvement is beneficial. Information is necessary. Partnerships are paramount. Are you successful now and are looking for ways to give back? Associations are also great for that too. With my Association membership, I’ll never face Goliath alone. That makes all the difference to me.
Wendy Marvin is CEO of Matrix Roofing. See her full bio here.