When I am presenting to a group I am often asked what the benefits are of being a Registered Master Builder. Now I have only been in the job for 18 months and after conjugating on this for a while my general response is “why would you not be a Registered Master Builder”?
Being a member of any organisation is a matter of choice, and one of the key challenges for us is to continuously provide benefits and services that you value. The bar is always being lifted — which is a good thing — and the expectations on us are no different than, say, cars.
A few years ago electronic windows and ABS braking were extras, but nowadays they come as standard. So it is for us at Federation, and the expectations are the same.
When I think about what RMBs have access to via membership, I truly do wonder how those that are in the building game and not aligned to any organisation such as ours get on.
Some of the things we have are truly valuable and unique to RMBs. For example:
• The BRAND: The RMBF brand is strong, well known and trusted. It is not infrequent that we are asked to speak to other organisations on how we manage and maintain it, and they are envious of our position. This, alone, is gold, and something we need to continuously foster and promote.
• The guarantees: We are the largest provider of home warranties in New Zealand — and we have just released two new products to meet market needs. Gone are the days where “take my word” is good enough. The Government is looking at making home warranties compulsory in one guise or another, and we are right there with what is needed. Only an RMB has access to these products.
• House of the Year/Commercial Project Awards: Mark my words, these make an enormous difference when it comes to differentiating yourself from your competitors. This awards programme is 20 years old, and has carved itself a highly respected niche in the property market. When times are tough, such awards can make all the difference, and only an RMB can win them.
• Apprentice of the Year: This is growing by the year and is the industry standard. It was started by the Wellington association, but has expanded to become a nationwide competition and to be the benchmark for apprentices.
• National advertising and promotion: We spend a lot of time and money promoting our brand and business. We are on all three main TV channels, as well as Prime, Living Channel and
Sky Sport. We have our own HoY TV programme and brand ads to match.
We have print advertising in well known consumer magazines such as Air NZ’s Koru, House and Garden, Resene’s Habitat and all the trade print publications that matter. We have just opened stands in the Home Ideas Centre, we attend all the trade shows, and all local associations attend local events as well.
• Contracts and industry documents: We have a raft of quality contracts for members to use to protect you and help run your business better — from residential building contracts to labour-only, minor works, subcontracts etc. We have just launched the RMB Best Practice Guide that is full of things you must know on how to run your business better. This is free to members.
• Legal advice: We can provide members with limited legal advice. Leoni Carter writes a regular article in Building Today, and she is only a phone call away if assistance is needed. If she is unable to help you directly she will certainly point you in the right direction.
• Annual conference: We have an annual conference which is one of, if not the best, in the sector. Next year we are partnering with BuildNZ to make it bigger and more relevant, and a must-go-to event. It will keep your licensing points up, and you will learn a lot.
• Public web site: We have a very good, high profile, public web site. We get thousands upon thousands of hits, and many jobs are obtained via this portal.
• Members web site: We maintain a members-only web site with access to all sorts of relevant information and documents. It needs to be revamped but it is all there, and probably a lot more than members realise. You can download contracts, obtain referrals, list your showhomes, use the RMBF’s own BuildersCV that helps maintain your work history, an easy to complete LBP application form and the latest relevant news.
• Regional Service Officers: We have seven of these guys throughout the country. They will call on you whenever you request, and assist you in any way possible.
• Publications: We have numerous publications to keep members informed: Building Today, Nailing it Home, and a newly-published newsletter, Briefed. Your local association will also have newsletters and other communications to keep you up to date on developments.
• Relationship management: We undertake a not insignificant amount of relationship management by speaking frequently at forums, public venues and conferences.
• Government advocacy: There is a huge amount of time spent by Federation staff and others in this area. We are represented on all manner of working parties and Government forums, and can meet Ministers and senior Government officials with a phone call.
• Media liaison: This is another high profile area for us. We are regularly contacted by media for our comments and thoughts on industry issues. We issue press releases and take part in wider discussion on topical matters.
• Discount programmes: We offer a raft of financial discounts through various suppliers and providers. This is an area that is always changing, and we have to keep abreast of these. You only need to contact us to see what is available, or check the web site.
When I look at all these, and this is by no means a complete list, I do wonder how the others fare.
When times are good I guess it doesn’t really matter as there is more than enough work for everyone. But when things tighten up — that is when it makes a difference.
I know for a fact that during the recession — and we are by no means out of it yet — some banks would only lend on new homes if they were being built by a Registered Master Builder.