We tend to believe that it is harder to grow a chapter in the Summer than at any other time of the year because everyone is gone on vacation!
Really? Are you gone? Do you still have to make a house payment, pay for your car, your food? Are you truly gone all Summer?
I don’t think many would answer those questions with a “Yes”. Every one of us, unless we are independently wealthy or are retired full time, have to work just like thousands of other individual business owners.
I have three suggestions for all Chapters, but I’m especially speaking to our smaller chapters. First, make the ask in your sphere of influence. Second, seek out new prospects at networking events. Third, you and your chapter should be active on social media. I will cover these three topics in detail in this and my next two blogs this summer.
So, what is the issue with summer growth? Some of us are gone temporarily and others are working. It is usually two or three weeks of the summer at the maximum. Guests are in the same boat. So how do we get new guests interested in coming to a meeting to meet all of us? ASK THEM!
Who is in your sphere of influence? Think about who you see daily; the banker, the coffee shop owner, the nail salon you frequent, the dry cleaners, your dentist. Make a list of people you see regularly. Look at it; who isn’t represented in your chapter? Now invite them. They each want to grow their own business. Do you know your neighbor? What business are they in? Do they want to grow? Make more money? Invite them to a meeting.
Make a concerted effort all summer to notice people you see and whose business you use daily. You will be surprised at who they are and how responsive they may be to your invitation. Invite just one person in a category or invite five people in the same category (this is what I would recommend). Then you need two people from your chapter following up with them or practicing “Confirmation of Reservation” with each invited guest within 24 hours of inviting them to your meeting.
Confirmation of reservation will mean the prospect is engaged by three people, making them feel special. People join a chapter because of how you make them feel! When you send out your invitation, blind copy two other people in your chapter that have agreed to work with you. Share the prospects contact information with them by asking at the bottom of the invitation to have the prospect validate that the information is correct.
When each of them receives the copy of the invitation, they have 24 hours in which to call or email the prospect with a short message like: “I am so excited to hear “so and so” has invited you to our meeting. I am looking forward to meeting you and learning more about your business. I will see you at the meeting on “day of the week”.” Many people have told me they think this is hard to do and they seldom call or email but in doing so we make the prospect feel important, wanted and they become eager to visit you at your chapter meeting. Once there, the magic of your chapter shows them why they should join and pretty soon, you are convincing many to be a part of your chapter! You should always follow up with them the same way once they visit so they know you are truly interested and not just giving lip service.
Remember, when a prospect visits your chapter, they should be allowed to speak twice to the chapter. The first time during guest introductions they will talk about themselves for 30 seconds; likes, hobbies, personal information so each of you can begin to build a relationship with this individual. The second time in the meeting will be when they give their own 30 second commercial about their business. Now they are really feeling like part of the chapter and will have fewer reasons to say no when you ask them, “Is there any reason you will not be joining us today?” Always give them an opportunity to ask questions, make clarifying statements or deny they want to belong to your chapter. Become a closer! Do not push anyone into joining, allow them to make the decision. Give good concise answers to questions and know what your chapter goals are so you can share that with the guest. People want to belong to a group that is dynamic, on time and to the point while having a good time doing it!
What is the energy like in your meeting place? Is everyone sitting down and ignoring guests? Does everyone stand up and greet each guest making them feel special? Be sure to ask questions that let them know you are really interested and help introduce them around to everyone else. Is there music playing helping to make the energy in the room tangible? If not, why not? Music is known to soothe the savage beast, but it also is a way of life for most of us to express ourselves. Music really makes a difference. A little MP3 player is so affordable and easy to use with your smartphone today, everyone should have one and try using one at your meeting. Amazing how the energy in the room picks up. Play it before and after the meeting. People tend to stay much longer when there is music! That is great for the showboaters to be seen more too!
If you feel it is slow and no one is attending, start thinking about having a contest within your chapter. Did you know that there is a national contest taking place right now? You could be putting some great dollars into your own pocket by inviting prospective members to your meeting.
Remember 16 in a chapter makes you sustainable; 22 in a chapter should be sharing approximately $300,000 in business with each other, and 30+ equals a million+ dollars plus each year! It is exponential growth! You want and need more business and money? It is all about getting guests to your chapter to meet you and figure out how wonderful you all are! So, start inviting and let’s see if you don’t sail through the summer making more money, more friends and a better return on your investment.
So, remember these 4 things when addressing the people in your sphere of influence…
1. Summer doesn’t mean everyone is gone. It’s a great time to find some great business owners.
2. Invite people to a meeting and have other members confirm that they are coming. Don’t forget to follow up after the meeting.
3. Show them some appreciation and have dynamic meetings that people want to attend.
4. There is a great contest going on, so the payback on new members is immediate to you and your chapter growth will payback dozens of times over.
Have a great summer everyone!
Kim Marie Branch-Pettid
40 Years of helping build businesses just like yours, everyday of the week.