The Official Online Newspaper of NAHB
Five years ago, when Schuyler Koven first began working for Verizon Wireless in Atlanta, his job was to market cell phone service to the construction industry — a seemingly easy task because cell phones are an essential tool for builders and others involved in the industry.
But Koven quickly found out that most of the builders and contractors he called on were already using a competing service, and they made it clear that they did not have the time to discuss changing providers.
“This was a market that was resistant to change,” Koven said.
He suspected, however, that builders and contractors would be more willing to hear about his service if they could discuss his company’s merits in a more relaxed setting, so he joined the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association and began attending the HBA’s regular luncheons, which generally attracted between 100 and 200 members.
Koven also got to know the members better by attending the HBA’s local trade shows and social gatherings, as well, and began to build business relationships.
“I’ve learned a lot about all aspects of the building process from my customers and prospective customers,” he said.
Though his HBA participation, he learned how contractors work and how they have to juggle information from clients, subcontractors, vendors and inspectors to keep their businesses running smoothly. He also quickly understood how every segment of the industry depended upon reliable wireless communication.
The more he attended and supported HBA events, the more he was able to build stronger relationships with other members and eventually discuss their cell phone service.
“The service that most of them used had issues of dropped calls and spotty coverage,” Koven said. “But once a few contractors had tried our service and found it solved many of their problems, word-of-mouth took over.”
With builders and contractors now a larger share of his clientele, Koven and the other members of the Atlanta association have achieved the type of relationship many associate members aspire to — members supporting members for mutual benefit.
“If I hadn’t become involved with the HBA, I could never have succeeded in this market,” Koven said.