With an abundance of sales training organizations in the home improvement space, how can one stand out amongst the crowded field of competitors? For Certified Contractors, or CCN, the answer is obvious even if the execution is anything but easy.
“I think people have gotten good at sales and at finding different sales training methods,” says CCN Co-Owner Scott Siegal. “But, what they haven’t gotten good at is understanding the business side of business. So, we’ve built out a lot of training around understanding the numbers.”
Siegal, who also owns Maggio Roofing, a company serving the DC metro area since 1989, says there’s a difference between knowing how to sell and knowing how to sell profitably. CCN focuses on the latter while offering in-depth training on business operations, marketing, production, and, of course, sales.
Siegal hasn’t always been the owner of CCN, but he has been involved nearly from the beginning, first joining as a contractor who wanted to learn from leaders in the roofing and remodeling industries.
The Early Years of CCN
The organization was founded by Richard Kaller in 1996 under the name “Contractors Network of America”. At the time, Kaller was recognized as a well-respected name in roofing, having established five successful roofing companies in the Philadelphia area. He also had a history of conducting one-day sales seminars for major roofing and siding manufacturers. It was through these trainings that he discovered a real need for a network of contractors.
“There wasn’t that much sales training in the home improvement space back then,” recalls Siegal. “Contractors would always come up to Richard after his presentations and tell him what they needed to succeed. It was always the same problems.”
Contractors Network of America became Certified Contractors Network in 1997, the same year Siegal’s Maggio Roofing joined as a member. Siegal identifies the early years of CCN as a major contributor to the success of his roofing business as the group grew to more than 300 members from whom he could learn.
Tragically, Kaller passed away from a heart attack in 2006. His wife, Gail McNeill, ran the operations for three years before selling the company to Siegal in 2009.
Siegal Takes Over
After purchasing CCN at the tail-end of a financial crisis, Siegal began to make his own mark on the organization while continuing to run his roofing company.
He implemented more in-person trainings, many of which were called boot camps. And they weren’t specific to sales. There were semi-regular production and marketing boot camps to go along with the sales and business planning boot camps that had been established under Kaller. CCN also held spring and fall conferences and an owner’s conference, which remain staples of the organization today.
Membership quickly grew to more than 400 contractors before leveling off for a few years. Feeling stagnant and wanting to be able to do more for the contractors turning to CCN for business guidance, Siegal started discussing a partnership in 2017 with John Martindale, owner of Maryland-based Brothers Services. It would be a couple of years before Martindale became a partner in the business.
“We finalized the deal and then COVID hit,” remembers Siegal.
A New Path Forward
Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, contractors quickly found sales success with homeowners who had some extra cash from the resulting stimulus package. CCN also experienced a growth spurt. Siegal and Martindale used the money the government gave the organization to invest in personnel.
Enter Gary Cohen, a jack-of-all-trades and master of many who spent 11 years as a professor of business at the University of Maryland. He is now the VP of CCN and the mastermind behind the organization’s training platform makeover.
“Let’s face it, John and I were contractors, not educators,” says Siegal. “We recruited Gary to come in and run the day-to-day operations of the company. And he’s done an amazing job of taking the training that we had and making it work the right way by implementing best practices that are happening at the university level.”
CCN has launched several new training and networking programs across all areas of business in the form of live-stream events. Online trainings include business operations mastery, sales management mastery, and production mastery, while monthly roundtables on the topics of marketing, sales, and production offer a place for owners and employees to get real-time feedback from fellow CCN members.
Despite the success of these virtual programs, Siegal says CCN has begun transitioning back to more in-person events so contractors can get the most out of the content they offer.
“Online training is great for reinforcement,” says Siegal. “But, our research shows us that live training as the initial exposure is better for retaining knowledge. Following up with live streams and recorded video trainings is then more effective.”
Contractors Helping Contractors
Siegal believes that contractors ultimately learn the most by being around other contractors. He is proud that CCN gives contractors an outlet to share business problems with people who’ve struggled with, and overcome, the same problems.
“It’s lonely being in business,” says Siegal. “You feel like no one understands the issues you’re dealing with. But, we are an organization of successful contractors that learn from each other through networking and top-notch training. The beauty of CCN is that it’s a community of contractors and it’s changing people’s lives.”
I work with CCN and their contractors as a vendor. We've been with them for 16+ years and they consistently bring us our best book from a quality standpoint and we've seen over half a billion dollars in volume. I honestly feel like every contractor in this group is my friend and it's amazing to see them root for each other, give each other advice, and provide real insight to the group, even amongst direct competitors. I have worked with thousands of contractors and been to many many events in my 12 years in this industry and the way CCN's Diamond & Platinum members interact with each other in a way that is truly unseen anywhere else.