Describe Custom Builders USA.
CB/USA allows custom and independent builders and remodelers to combine their buying power at the local level and get better pricing and service from vendors and suppliers.
We began group-purchasing through our custom-builders council in Northern Virginia in the late 1990s. We figured that if we bought our lumber together, maybe we could get a better price. That worked, and a group of us formed CB/USA to put some business systems behind the concept and to take it to other markets around the country.
How do you find new members?When we go into a city, we are strongly referral-based. We find builders through our networks and affiliations. We get input from our national partners on the supply and manufacturing side. We now have 215 builder members in 15 cities and 700 vendors and suppliers, including ProBuild, 84 Lumber, Kohler, DuPont, Trane, Schlage, and Electrolux.
For both builders and vendors, we’re selective about who comes on board. We target builders who run their businesses well, have good reputations in the community, and pay their bills on time. It’s that last criterion in particular that tends to screen out a lot of them.
Once the group gets going locally, its members become the ones who help to screen the new builders, because builders tend to know who the rotten apples are in any one of our given markets. The best of the best find us because they are already open to new ideas that help them to produce a competitive advantage.
How have builders felt about joining forces with their competitors? Initially, many builders are skeptical about their ability to work effectively with competitors. Many believe they are already buying at discounted levels and don’t see the need to combine their purchasing power with others. When we demonstrate how much more they can save by working together, they become believers. In addition to saving thousands on direct costs by combining forces, they can learn quite a bit from one another without sacrificing their individuality as builders.