Some trade bodies may pride themselves on being just a logo but, as Richard Catt explains here, that’s not the way the CFA does business.
I’M told some trade associations in construction and the wider commercial world are basically just a logo. You send in your application and by return, a bit like joining a fan club, you get the certificate and a badge. Not so the CFA.
Our membership criteria are set to ensure we’re representative of the industry and that only genuine flooring contractors, manufacturers and distributors are able to join up and benefit from the support we offer.
Members do get a logo too of course! But we have an application process and we apply it rigorously to ensure we can confidently promote CFA members through our online directory and hard copy handbook.
The criteria include a credit check and potentially other financial measures (if required) to ensure that applicants have a sustainable business that isn’t about to go under. As another measure of this, contractor members must have been trading for a minimum of three years, although newly formed businesses can potentially join after 12 months under our associate contractor category.
This category also allows us to work with smaller contract flooring businesses (without commercial premises) or those who carry out contract floor laying, but not necessarily as their main business, such as a shopfitting business with a flooring division.
All members will definitely share one thing in common: they’ll be actively, consistently, and credibly involved in the supply or installation of contract flooring. Our criteria indicate that a flooring contractor will have a very large proportion of their work in contract flooring, whereas an associate may, for example, do a little more residential, but their commercial flooring activity will be significant and measurable – not just a little soft contract once a year.
Membership criteria for both contractor categories include trade and client references, and we also check areas such as insurances (public and employer liability) and that applicants can provide recent examples of key documents such as RAMS, and H&S and environmental policies. As such, the transaction is much more than just collecting their company details and sending them a logo to put on their email footer, website, and van.
But what happens once a company joins the CFA? Is that initial audit the only measure of their ongoing suitability to hold CFA membership and retain use of the logo? I’m pleased to say the answer is no. We return annually to members and check the key elements of our membership criteria are still in place. It is a condition of membership that they agree to complete the CFA’s annual return.
Thus, each year when we re-publish the CFA directory, we do so in the knowledge that those we support have all the key attributes that any potential client would ideally check when doing their own due diligence.
This is probably why more than 60% of our members can identify that they receive work through CFA membership. The figure is probably greater than that as some companies don’t actively measure where their work comes from, but even when applying many will state that clients seek re-assurance through membership of a trade body.
At the same time as we carry out the annual return, we also ask members to answer a few questions to assist us in our work to represent the industry, develop the right support and benefits to suit the current climate and, where appropriate, lobby government. You would have to be living in a bubble not to know skills and labour are currently a key issue, but we can put figures to that. In 2019 members reported an 11% gap in their labour pool.
In 2021, this has risen to 16% with about 1,000 less fitters (employed or subcontract) available. This type of data, naturally shapes our business plan for member support, justifies where we place budgets and gives credibility to our industry representation.
We thought long and hard about what we ask when we set up the annual return, in order that some questions remain consistent year on year, and we can see changes or trends. We leave a little scope for asking new questions, but overall ensure this is all kept to a manageable minimum and generally only one survey a year.
The flow of information and support is generally out of the CFA to our members, and firmly designed to allow them to focus on fitting floors and maximising profit.
The CFA is a leading trade association representing the flooring industry. If you would like an application pack or further information on the benefits of membership, please contact the CFA offices.