The Home Owners Club® is a contractor referral service that has been helping Seattle area residents find competent, licensed contractors for over 50 years.
A Little Background on Contractor Referral Services
Contractor referral services have been around for many years in many different forms. The most popular type has been the "pay-for-listing" model. Contractors pay to be listed in return for the promise of referrals. That means consumers are assured that the listed contractors have the proper licensing, bonding and insurance, but there's no guarantee of satisfactory performance.
An Advertising Agency Had the Idea for the Club
Late in the 1950s, a Detroit advertising agency created an alternative model with a more consumer-oriented approach.
Instead of a listing service for contractors, it was to be a membership organization for homeowners — where member satisfaction would be the priority.
Plans were made to establish franchises across North America and to advertise this new service in Life, Look, The Saturday Evening Post and other leading periodicals. It was the birth of a better referral service: the National Home Owners Club.
Seattle Was One of the First Franchises
In July of 1959, Boris Kramer and Howard Richmond purchased what was to be one of 17 franchises sold by the National Club.
- Eileen S.
A Member for 5 years
These Seattle businessmen knew the logic of the concept was sound and the need for such a service was great. However, they also recognized that one of the problems with starting any new business is in gaining credibility. To overcome this, the co-owners formed an Advisory Board that included some of Seattle's most respected community leaders.
Soon, high-profile print ads touting the new service and its Advisory Board began appearing on the pages of the Seattle Times' Pacific Magazine. In radio ads, the well-regarded Jim French acted as the Club's spokesman.
Seattle homeowners, eager to find qualified contractors, readily signed up for the service. And by the end of 1960, the Club had almost 1,000 members.
Unfortunately, the other affiliated franchises were not as successful at attracting members, and within a year the national organization was forced to close its doors for lack of revenue.
How the Club Survived the Hard Times
On its own and without any marketing support at that point, the Seattle franchise realized that word-of-mouth advertising would be key for its survival and growth. To encourage these recommendations, the Club made its member services even better.
A former contractor was hired to oversee daily operations and to provide Club members with one-on-one assistance, while knowledgeable support staff was hired to handle member inquiries.
Appreciative participants recommended the Club to others, and membership continued to grow.
A New Owner Twenty One Years Later
By 1980, the Club's original owners were ready to retire. They sold the business to Matt Maury, a 15-year veteran of the Weyerhaeuser Company, who was in search of a new challenge. His management skills and industry experience were an ideal fit for the Club's continued growth. His commitment to member satisfaction matched that of the Club's founders.
Still Focused on Member Satisfaction
Since the change in ownership more than 30 years ago, the Club's focus has remained the same. This is a business built on trust, and members continue to count on the Club to provide them with timely guidance and competent contractors for virtually any upkeep, repair or remodeling need.