With ballooning health care costs, ever-evolving environmental policies and bottom-dollar pricing from big-box competitors, independent retailers can use all the help they can get.
One solution that is often overlooked or taken for granted is membership in an industry association.
As Steve Stevens, editor of Paint & Decorating Retailer Magazine, points out in the November issue of the magazine, “Associations can help level the playing field by supplying small business owners with information, education and sometimes even a political voice.”
The history of associations is a long one, with early versions dating back to the apprentice system in the Roman Empire and the establishment of guilds during the Industrial Revolution. And while the association’s form may have changed over the centuries, its function has not: to create equality for the underdogs.
Not only do associations like the Paint & Decorating Retailers Association offer power in numbers, but they also provide tools and resources that individual businesses may not have access to on their own.
Here are five benefits of association membership for independent retailers, particularly in the paint and decorating industry.
Expertise. You’ve heard it said that two heads are better than one. It is also true that 100 heads are better than two. Regardless of your personal experience, you don’t know what you don’t know. Between your association’s website, newsletters, magazines, webinars, social media content and blog posts, you have access to a wealth of information at your fingertips – all of which will make your job a little bit easier and help boost your business’ bottom line.
Advice. When it comes to business in general, and finances in particular, it can be difficult to know whom to trust. When you join an association, you know it has your best interests in mind; your success is your association’s success, and vice versa. Drawing on the knowledge of dozens, or hundreds, of other association members can offer solutions to specific problems and point out potential problems you hadn’t even thought of. Whether it’s a simple accounting question or a complex legal issue, you can be sure your association will be able to point you in the right direction.
Perks. Who doesn’t like discounts and freebies? Along with association membership often comes a slew of perks, ranging from exclusive pricing on certain product lines to deals on essential services. In the case of PDRA, members receive thousands of dollars worth of Value Pak coupons, low-cost credit card processing, contract pricing at Office Depot, access to an affordable group health insurance plan and more. For a full list of PDRA’s membership benefits, click here.
Credibility. In an industry where independent retailers are often overshadowed by the bog box stores and mainstream advertising isn’t in your budget, recognition by association is a good way to get noticed. Much like the brand names lining your shelves, your association membership is way of showing customers your company is reputable, dependable and professional. Associations often keep directories and online locators as well, which will help you stand out and make it easier for potential customers to find you.
Networking. Any association worth joining will have its share of conferences, workshops and other networking events. These events are not only an opportunity to keep up on the latest industry trends, but also to meet like-minded individuals who share your hopes, dreams, fears and day-to-day existence in the world of independent retail. Meeting new people can lead to increased business, potential partnerships and countless other opportunities. At the very least, access to other small business owners will remind you that you’re not in this alone.