Looking to leverage your development's volume into greater buying power and more attention from manufacturers? Here's a handful of lessons from Dancing Waters.

  • Find A Champion. Without the commitment and enthusiasm of developer Terry Forbord, neither the builders nor the manufacturers at Dancing Waters would have enlisted in the group buying and marketing program.
  • Make Project Distinctive. Manufacturers wanted to be involved in Dancing Waters because they saw the Woodbury, Minn., community as a place to show off their products to consumers and builders interested in learning more. “We're always trying to identify destinations where people can get Andersen windows,” says Tim Carlson, a district sales manager for Andersen.
  • Propose The Program In Promising Areas. James Hardie joined the Dancing Waters program because, among other reasons, it considers Minneapolis/St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs an “emerging market” for Hardiplank, and it wants more exposure for its product.
  • Use Existing Supply-Chain Relationships. Group buys don't necessarily require a whole new distribution network. After working with participating manufacturers, Dancing Waters builders filled their orders with their current distributors and suppliers.
  • Think Big And Small. Dancing Waters is a sizeable community (1,148 homes), but you don't need a 1,000-home development to make this work. Participating manufacturers say they've done programs like this for communities as small as a dozen homes, depending on the market. That said, greater volume will generate more interest, support, and leverage.