What contractor credentials set a professional apart from others in the field?

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Selecting a contractor for your home can be a challenge. Prices can be competitive, and similar services and delivery schedules can also be comparable. However, one way to choose the winning contractor from the pack can be assessed by asking one simple question, says Adam Falkoff, President of CapitalKeys (www.capitalkeys.com), one of Washington, DC's top public affairs firms: To what organizations do you belong?

Membership in a trade association demonstrates a business owner’s commitment to the industry, their customers and, in some cases, certifications and standards, which can only be earned as a member of a trade association, explained Adam. Here's what else he told us.

Trade associations deliver several benefits to the professional ultimately benefiting the consumer as well:

1. Increased knowledge. Odds are that someone, somewhere in the industry has already discovered the solution to a vexing problem in your particular niche and that someone has shared their experiences to lead to another member’s success. When you hire a member of a trade association, you are gaining access to the entire membership and their experiences.

2. Validated skills. Trade associations create industry standards and regulate their members to those standards. Many associations offer demanding certification programs. Ask your potential contractor if they are certified. Ask about their certifications, the components of the certification (practical and theoretical) and the maintenance process.

3. Industry influence. Trade associations bring members together, turning one voice into a noticeable and recognized voice to legislators and regulators. Typically, trade association members are abreast of changing local, state and federal regulations, have an understanding of pending legislation and, most of all, know possible challenges you could face in improving your home.

Most importantly, members of trade associations are committed to delivering state-of-the-art solutions for your home. Determining membership in a trade association could make all the difference when selecting a contractor for your household.

CapitalKeys represents trade associations, corporations, non-profits and foundations. Their bipartisan team provides strategic and legislative counsel and lobbying services successfully helping clientele understand, anticipate and navigate the complex public policy environment. Adam can be reached at afalkoff@capitalkeys.com.

Adam with President George Bush, left, and President Bill Clinton.