By Joseph F. Schuler Jr.. For small businesses, finding advertising dollars is often dicey. But Tim Britton of Tim Britton Construction Services of Falls Creek, Pa., has discovered a way to fund a third of his $50,000 advertising budget. Britton, whose construction business and showroom revenues topped $1.4 million last year, has for 15 years used cooperative programs with such companies as KraftMaid Cabinetry, Marvin Windows and Doors, The Bilco Co., and GAF Materials Corp.

KraftMaid, for example, reimburses half of Britton's radio, print, and Yellow Pages ads mentioning its products. GAF pays for half of the ads mentioning its roofing products.

"All the programs are similar, but they have their own guidelines," Britton says. "You may need to use their ad and put your name on it, or they may be more flexible." Some companies he co-ops with require that Britton send them copies of the ads or affidavits from radio stations verifying that the ad was broadcast.

Britton says manufacturers won't share dollars unless he displays their products in his showroom. "And they're not going to give you a million dollars in marketing if your sales are less than $100,000."

Kim Craig, KraftMaid marketing manager, says showroom dealers do have to log a certain percentage of sales to qualify for co-op dollars, and there are other restrictions and requirements as well.

Britton says the best place to learn about co-op programs is through suppliers and their manufacturer reps.