This month we speak with Area Director Consultant, Rick Armstrong, who has been able to constantly maintain high visitor rates for the Yorkshire West region. We asked him to talk us through some key changes he made to his chapters that have had proven results.
There isn’t one specific change that’s going to work for a group. If you want to see change, you have to take all elements into consideration. I have listed a few key changes we made to the visitor process that has continued to help us maintain a high visitor rate and of course we continue to work on it.
MARKET YOUR BUSINESS
Look into what’s happening from a visitor perspective. We analysed the visitor experience from the point of being contacted, right through to them attending, or is some cases, not attending a meeting. We quickly identified that if members don’t see a result straight away, they get disheartened and give up.
Finding a benefit within the inviting process for the member was key. How could we turn negative responses into a positive? We began to teach members how to utilise the visitors who declined an invitation to their advantage and use the BNI system to market their own business through the invitation process.
Members should start looking at inviting visitors as part of their business marketing strategy and if they get a decline, follow up by saying, ‘well that’s okay, why don’t we get together for a cup of coffee and a chat, so I can find out more about what you do’.
Train ALL members in the art of visitor hosting, not just the Visitor Host Team. We do this in all our MSP training and offer regular training to chapters.
The benefits prove themselves almost immediately, especially during visitor drives. If you don’t train the chapter before having a visitor drive, you will ultimately either see poor results and not enough visitors, or plenty of visitors, but not a good outcome in membership.
SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
We find chapters that have the highest visitor rate are often the ones that have a well thought out social media strategy. Running a good social media programme and teaching chapters to utilise this for inviting members, gets great results.
However, you shouldn’t be primarily relying on social media to invite visitors, it’s marketing to support your visitor inviting strategy.
Take a look at how visitors are referred to within your chapter meetings. If I’m a visitor experiencing a meeting for the first time and I hear ‘Networker of the month for three visitors is …’ it sounds like I was invited to get him/her a prize. We have changed the wording within in our chapter meeting agenda to read ‘X member helped three local companies extend their network, by visiting our group.’ It’s a much nicer way to refer to visitors within your chapter and it properly describes two positive outcomes; a member being acknowledged for what they have done and the networking opportunity created for all.
RETURN TO BASICS
When you have heard every excuse under the sun as to why members are not bringing visitors, consider Ockhams razor. Of two (or more), explanations the simplest is usually right. The basic reason a Chapter is not bringing visitors is not among the myriad of reasons given, it’s usually because most members are not inviting. Don’t blame them, go back to basics. How is this covered in the training programme? What is the regions narrative and is everyone using the same language? Have you reviewed ed-slots that the group are presenting on this subject? And are members being given the number one outcome, if you invite 10 people and 9 won’t/don’t attend how are you marketing your business to the 9?