We just got back from a tour of an AWI (Architectutal Woodworking Institute) shop. They felt their status as an AWI shop was worthwhile and helped secure sales, yet when pressed, they said only 1 percent of the jobs they win require AWI-certified cabinets.
When you are selling your shop's capabilities, does having an AWI certification affect your sales?
We get jobs where architects or contractors look for a certified shop. It is not a huge percentage of sales, maybe 100-300K a year. More important though, in any trade organization, is the ability to network and share information with other shops. When you share with other shops you can eliminate a lot of the learning curve.
We also save money on the insurance programs, but we do about 20 to 30 percent of our jobs as "certified," depending on the year, and it does help limit who bids on some private and public jobs. I would join a trade association for the other benefits that are less tangible but can save you thousands just by seeing something or being able to ask another member somewhere else in the country a question.
The local chapter meetings were too far away, the support was poor, and most important: we would get plans specifying AWI premium and then get shot down on pricing by a shop that didn't even know what it was.
The architect's reply usually was that the owner didn't want to pay the higher price! So why specify it that way if you will accept quick and dirty?
I originally joined for their publications, such as Quality Standards, Cost Book and their seminars. I haven't participated as often as I should, but I would highly encourage any shop to join. I have seen a lot of questions on various forums about estimating, project management and financial management. These are questions we all have and AWI has very good seminars on these subjects.