State Yard Tour Guide
Hosting a yard tour with your local legislator(s) is a great opportunity for your business. Regardless of whether you already have a relationship with the legislator(s) or are looking to build a new one, it is important to keep in touch with the policymakers that pass laws that affect your business. Yard tours are focused on educating the legislator(s) about your business and the lumber and building materials (LBM) industry; the focus is not on specific policies or NRLA priority issues. Legislators enjoy and appreciate taking the time to get to know their constituents and rely on the information they provide when acting on legislation. Hosting a yard tour provides an opportunity for building a stronger relationship that will help your business and the LBM industry.
What to Do
- Prepare your yard.
- Make sure your yard looks clean and organized.
- Make sure there are no safety issues (blocked doors, exposed and unsecured cords or sharp objects, spills or other slippery surfaces, etc.). This is not in reference to OSHA violations but is in reference to general safety concerns and best practices.
- Inform your employees of the visit – who will be attending and when, dress code, etc.
- Welcome the legislator(s) when they arrive.
- Know who the legislator(s) is.
- Thank the legislator(s) for taking the time to visit your yard.
- Introduce yourself and the individuals joining the tour.
- Introduce the legislator(s) to employees as you walk around the yard.
- Take pictures whenever possible.
- Tell your company story.
- Are you a family-owned business? If so, how many generations has the company been in the family? How did your family get into the business?
- How long have you been operating for? When were you founded?
- Inform them of any other locations you own, how many people you employ at each location, and your business volume.
- Explain what your small business brings to the community.
- If you are trying to increase your staff and resources, let them know what you need to see before expanding.
- If you have recently had to reduce your staff and resources, let them know what factors lead to that and the measures you took to try to prevent it.
- Discuss the business environment.
- Has business improved this year? What do you see as strengths of the market and what do you see as weaknesses?
- Who is your market? Single family homes, multi-family homes, commercial buildings, etc.
- Are you seeing an uptick in building permits?
- Are you seeing more builder/consumer confidence?
- Discuss the biggest challenges you face daily.
- Are you having a difficult time finding qualified employees?
- Are there regulations that are overly burdensome for your business?
- Have you seen local taxes increase?
- Are there issues with supply and demand?
- Thank the legislator(s).
- Even if the legislator(s) disagrees with your view, still thank them for their time and service to your community. Showing up to your yard demonstrates their support of the LBM industry.
- Take a picture of the legislator(s) and your staff.
- Leave them with your contact information.
What to Avoid
- Do not focus on NRLA priority issues.
- A yard tour is not meant to discuss (at great lengths) any specific issues that NRLA is advocating for or against at the state or federal level.
- Your state lobbyist or NRLA staff will often be there to assist with priority issue discussions.
- Be wary of the political landscape.
- Avoid discussing political topics that do not directly apply to our industry.
- Avoid using partisan terms or phrases. For example, do not say “Obamacare;” instead say Affordable Care Act or health care reform.
- Avoid bringing up your personal political views.
- The legislator(s) has taken time to come and learn more about your industry and build a relationship – this visit is about your business and the industry.
While this document is a guide for what to discuss with your local legislator(s), please feel free to amend the tour to fit your needs. As always, the government affairs staff at NRLA will be available to answer any questions you may have and help you prepare for the yard tour. We will follow-up with the legislator(s) after the visit.
Contact government affairs at email@example.com.