Build Your Sales Force
Build Your Sales Force
I think most component manufacturers (CMs) would agree that framers can be a valuable part of their overall sales strategy. If the guys installing a CM’s product appreciate its quality and the way it makes the installation job easier, they’re likely to talk about it to the general contractor (GC). If the GC hears that kind of feedback multiple times, they’re likely to make sure that manufacturer’s products are specified, or at least sought out, on the jobs they control. It’s passive sales, but no less effective.
In that context, the question CMs need to think about is, “Who do you want on your sales force?” You have certain expectations and standards for the people you directly hire to lead your market development, bidding and truss design efforts. The same should be true for your passive sales force, the framers installing your product and vouching for it in the field. The problem is, unless a manufacturer also provides the framing labor, they don’t have much say in the matter. Not right now, anyway.
I believe that’s where the National Framers Council (NFC) can help in a big way. The whole premise of NFC is to help the framing industry grow and develop through best practice-based standards. We are focused on helping every framer, no matter how big or small their company, get to the same place. A place where expectations for how framing is accomplished, defining their scope of work, and determining who is responsible for what, is much more clearly defined than it is today.
Having a more standardized approach to framing will make the whole building construction process easier. It will be easier for the GC because they’ll know ahead of time what to expect. Framers can be more efficient because their responsibilities and tasks will be more uniform in practice. It will be better for the CM too, as a more standardized approach will pave the way for easier acceptance and use of their products.
When I talk about standardization, I’m talking about a more unified approach to jobsite safety. Enacting nationally recognized best practices, for everything from fall protection to personal protection equipment, will make all jobsites safer places to work. That will mean fewer accidents, lower insurance rates, and less OSHA regulations, inspections and citations. In turn, the framing profession will become a more desirable career choice for the next generation.
When I talk about standardization, I’m also talking about more uniform contract language. In general, framers don’t have a lot of clout when it comes to negotiating provisions in their contracts. As CMs know, unfavorable contract language can leave you with more liability, or a broader scope of work, than you desire or is even appropriate. By establishing standardized contract language at a national level, framer members should have more success in negotiating the inclusion of some of these provisions.
Overall, having national standards and established best practices through NFC will help framers educate GCs on everything from jobsite safety to the benefits of alternative construction methods. For CMs, NFC can be valuable for spreading the word about innovative framing concepts and new framing products. I can tell you from experience that framers can be slow to change. Ideally, NFC can help increase the overall rate of innovation in the field with outreach and education.
Through NFC, the component manufacturing industry can also be more effective at educating framers on component installation best practices, from better handling techniques to ensure components aren’t damaged in the field, to an easier and more universal approach to following the bracing guidelines outlined in your BCSI documents.
I strongly believe framers want to be part of NFC. Beyond all the benefits of standardization, it provides a great opportunity to network on a national level and increase the exposure of framers to component manufacturers, GCs and builders. For large framing companies like mine, NFC helps level the playing field and improves conditions for all framers. For small framing companies, it will give them a leg up, provide access to a wide variety of education and training tools, and also give them more influence in the construction process.
Why am I sharing all of this? I believe every CM should get involved in NFC, become a member of this fledgling organization, and help support the mission and objectives I’ve outlined. From a practical standpoint, having manufacturer members helps build critical mass, credibility and our ability to reach framers across the country. Membership dues also provide much needed financial support to accomplish our goals.
For CMs, being a member gives them direct access to the broader framing industry. Again, because framers who belong to NFC will have best practices and industry standards available to them, they will be better educated and have more of a commitment to safety and proper framing. Through NFC, CM members will have the ability to search the NFC database of framer members and find a high-quality framer to work with. It gets back to that idea of improving your passive sales force.
Tom English is Owner and President of U.S. Framing in PeWee Valley, KY, and has been in the industry for about 25 years. He serves on NFC’s Steering Committee and chairs the Council’s Membership Subcommittee. For more information about the National Framers Council, visit framerscouncil.org.