While for many companies, a motto is little more than a catchy marketing phrase, at CBUSA, “Strength in numbers, pride in independence” is the guiding force behind the entire organization. It’s both the reason CBUSA was founded and the overarching principle that continues to steer every decision made and action taken by the group’s leadership. And, it was without question the inspiration behind CBUSA’s decision last year to develop a survey that would help the organization glean valuable feedback from its nationwide network of premier custom homebuilders and vendor partners.
“We decided to do the survey twice a year with half of our network each time, including a mix of both builders and vendors,” explained COO Brian Pavlick. That way each member gets the survey once every 12 months, but we get valuable feedback every six months. This should help us see how we’re doing, whether CBUSA is continuing to provide value to our member builders and vendor partners, and — since our goal is to make our programs and offerings as valuable as possible — if the changes we implement and improvements we make have the desired effect of creating even greater satisfaction.”
The first round of surveys went out last December, with the results gathered a week prior to the annual Power 30 conference in January, while the second round were sent in June, with the results scheduled to be gathered at the end of July. Given the fact that this was the first member survey CBUSA leadership had ever conducted, Brian Pavlick was extremely pleased with the results of the first round, both in the quality and quantity of the responses.
“96 percent of the builders who responded said they’d be either very or somewhat disappointed if CBUSA didn’t exist,” Pavlick reported, “and 78 percent of our vendors expressed the same sentiment. Those are the kinds of numbers most companies can only dream of. Of course we hoped that our members felt that way about CBUSA, but to see confirmation in black and white was really meaningful for us.”
What came to light from the builder responses is that members find the biggest value in the savings they receive from offering such as the Committed Purchase program and vendor rebates, as well as the opportunity to network, collaborate and share ideas within the Local Builder Networks.
“One of the respondents commented, ‘The main benefits I receive from CBUSA are first, a “fraternity” of quality builders who share information on trades and pricing to help each other out. Second is better lumber pricing. Third is rebate programs,’” Pavlick shared. “This was pretty common among all of the builder responses we received. It’s great to hear that they’re finding so much value in our core offerings.”
But while CBUSA leadership was pleased by the responses they received from their member builders, they were ecstatic to find that such a high percentage of their vendor partners would be disappointed if they no longer had access to the organization.
“We were pleasantly surprised by the level of support from vendors and their desire to further strengthen our network,” Pavlick confided. “Our vendors reported a great deal of satisfaction with our program and provided some constructive feedback. One of them commented, ‘I appreciate the awareness and access to builders that I may not have known or had access to without CBUSA, as well as my relationship with CBUSA leadership and the ability to partner for our common interest.’ These are the local vendors, and we don’t always get a lot of feedback from them. We don’t get reporting information from them the way we do from national vendors, and we know that sometimes they feel like the CBUSA program is more geared toward providing value for builders. So, to find that they’re actually finding a lot of value too was really rewarding for us. We know we need vendor support to make CBUSA work, and we’ve spent a lot of time and energy since last fall diving into issues our vendor community has and how to improve our product on the vendor side.”
In addition to finding out what the organization is doing right in the eyes of its members, CBUSA leadership also gained valuable insight into ways they can make their programs even more valuable for them.
KEY FINDINGS (BUILDERS):
- Streamlined rebate reporting
- Improved online networking capabilities
“The two biggest asks from our builders are simpler rebate reporting and an improved social networking platform,” Pavlick recounted. “We’re working to simplify the current reporting process as much as possible by minimizing the information they’re required to submit for rebates and provide as much efficiency in data entry to eliminate having to enter the same or similar information more than once. We’re also working to get the supply channel to submit the reports on behalf of the builders so they don’t have to report themselves, since the vendors and manufacturers have much more robust reporting tools and their data is accurate. We just need to simplify the way they can submit that report to us, and ideally integrate it with their back-office systems so they don’t even have to run reports — we could just grab the data. At this point, all new contracts are negotiated with the plan to have vendors or manufacturers report for our members. For existing contracts, we have to wait until the time comes for renegotiation and renewal to change the reporting process, but it will definitely be a priority. As far as the social platform goes, we’re looking at a new Microsoft program to replace the current Yahoo! Groups. We’re hoping to pilot it in one of our markets by the end of the year.”
KEY FINDINGS (VENDORS):
- More access to builders
- Better communication from CBUSA
- Add more builders to the network
- Make the reporting process easier
“Our vendors provided really valuable feedback by telling us that they appreciate having access to local builder groups and would like even more access to them on a regular basis.” Pavlick emphasized. “We’re currently focused on developing ways that we can place them front and center in front of our builders and provide a pathway to an open dialogue. That also goes for our national manufacturer partners so we can make sure our builders are always aware of the latest products, discounts and rebates available to them. Local markets are working on ideas to bring builders and vendors together through hosted events. The CBUSA Marketing Team is also evaluating opportunities for suppliers to promote their products, events, and monthly specials via a monthly eNewsletter. We’re even considering test-driving some virtual opportunities for them to connect with our builders such as podcasts.”
“In terms of enhanced communication with our vendors,” Pavlick continued, “CBUSA's staff is committed to continual improvement and take this request to heart. We will be reaching out to suppliers to better understand how we can become better communicators. We’re also currently working to improve and standardize our vendor onboarding process to make the training more comprehensive and provide clear keys to success. We’ve recently invested heavily in sales and marketing with the goal of continuing our recent membership growth,” Pavlick added. “And for the same reason we want to improve the reporting process for our members — to make it easier and more convenient for them — we want to identify opportunities to integrate with our vendors’ back offices so that, while the report is coming from them, it is not something they are spending an inordinate amount of time compiling. Instead, it will simply require them to push a button.”
Given the valuable insight the first survey provided, CBUSA is excited to see the results of the second one next week. And as the process continues every six months, they’re both hoping that in the near future CBUSA leadership will be hearing from each and every member builder and vendor partner once a year.
“The value of this survey is in the participation,” Pavlick emphasized. We really hope that all our members will be willing to share their opinions. Their feedback is paramount in maintaining a first-class program. Our goal is to exceed expectations, so we take these survey results very seriously and are committed to using all of the information provided to build a better, stronger network.”