This week Tom Fleming, Executive Director of BNI West Central Florida, joins Dr. Misner on the podcast. The average number of members per chapter in Tom’s region of 40 chapters is thirty-eight.
Tom initially hesitated to implement Fast Track in his region because he’s on the CDs and didn’t want to appear to be promoting himself. But he saw the results the program was getting in other regions, and decided that he couldn’t deprive Tampa Bay BNI members of improvements to their referrals and thank you for close of business.
Tom chose to sell Fast Track into their chapters through referrals, by starting with one chapter and letting its members recommend it to others.
Tom created a script for facilitators to use to roll the Fast Track program out to the membership, and advises all BNI directors to do the same. BNI members need to know—and to remember—why they’re participating in this program. This is about Members Making More Money.
Brought to you by Ask Ivan Misner.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 168 -
Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by AskIvanMisner.com, which is a Web site where you can ask Ivan any question you have about networking.
I’m Priscilla Rice, and I’m coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkley, California, and I’m joined on the phone today by the founder and the chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner.
Hello, Ivan. How are you doing today?
I am doing great, Priscilla, and I’m really excited because we have with us on this podcast Tom Fleming. Tom is the Executive Directory in Tampa, Florida, and I can honestly say Tom is one of the best directors that we have in the world. Tom has about 40 chapters in the area; he built it from zero to 40. But the most amazing thing about his region is that Tom has an average number of members per chapter of about 38. 38! I remember the first time I kicked off a chapter with 35 members, probably two, three years into the organization, but it was the first group that I kicked off with 35 members. And I remember thinking back, “Wow, I wonder if this could ever happen again. Could we ever have two groups to kick off with 35 members?” And Tom has 40 chapters with an average membership of 38 members.
Tom, I am so impressed with your ability to grow strong and successful chapters, and I want to welcome you to the podcast.
Well, thank you so much. That’s quite an introduction.
Well, it’s my pleasure to be doing this with you because I really am impressed with 38 members. What’s your largest group? How many members does your largest chapter have?
We have a group that’s right around 70 members here in the Ocala, Florida, area that is just a local city outside of Tampa.
And you’ve been doing this in Tampa since 2003, so as of this recording, about seven years.
Now the reason that I really wanted to emphasis this is that I wanted the members and directors that are listening to this podcast to understand who it is that they’re listening to, because there’s one thing to have somebody come on and give a lot of hype about what works and what doesn’t work, but when you have a director, to me, it’s where the rubber meets the road, what are the results. When you have a director whose average size of a chapter is 38, I think people need to listen, and it’s the reason I wanted to have you on this podcast.
We’re talking about a program that you have started to institute, the Fast Track program, and you were skeptical at first with this program. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Sure. I was specifically skeptical about the fact that this may not work in our region. When I first listened to the CDs, I said, “Wow, this is Dr. Misner at his best.” But the reason why I was skeptical about it not working in our region is I do play a part in the BNI Networking Secrets on the third CD, and I’m really good at promoting other people, but I’m really not that good at promoting myself. And I had a sense of guilt around how would the members in this region perceive the fact that I was on the third CD and I didn’t want them to interpret that I was being selfish about this.
And so I said to myself, “Well, I don’t want the members to perceive that this is just another program that Tom’s pushing.” What helped me overcome my skepticism was I started hearing about the results in other chapters around the country, around the world in terms of memberships growing by 50 percent, referrals increasing 65 percent, thank you for closed business growing by 170 percent. One of our main areas of focus here in our area is to increase referrals and thank you for close of business, and I kind of said, “Well, to heck with the fact that I happen to be on the third CD. I want the members in the Tampa Bay area to be learning the things that they need to expand their membership from referrals and thank you for closed business perspective.”
And how has it played out now that you’ve implemented it?
By the way, your material on the CD is outstanding, and there’s very few people that I co-write books with or co-produce CDs with. As a matter of fact, you’re the only person I’ve ever co-produced a CD with, so I understand your discomfort, maybe, in promoting yourself, but I’ve got to tell you, your contribution to the CD set is just amazing, and I’m glad to have you on it.
So how’s the response been?
The response has been fantastic, but when I first started looking at the program, I said to myself, “We really want to do this by referral rather than try and sell these programs into chapters individually.” And so what I wanted to do is I wanted to work with a test chapter and create some documentation that would provide them with the ability to flawlessly execute this program in a way that would guarantee the members results, results in increased referrals, results in thank you for close of business.
And through those results, I really wanted the other chapters in the area asking, “When do we get this program? When can we get this program?” because they were conscious and aware of it created for another chapter. The chapter that’s first along the program with us has increased their referrals and thank you for closed business by 30 percent, which is fantastic. We’ve got three other chapters ready to roll out the program that we’re working with right now, and then we’ve got a half dozen other chapters that we just can’t get started right now that want the program, but I really want to take our time with this and make sure that every chapter is following the success system that we’ve put in place to make sure that the members and the chapters are really guaranteed results, because that’s what I’m committed to, and I think that’s what every executive director around the country is committed to.
Now, for those listeners that don’t know what we’re talking about, the Fast Track system is a set of CDs that were not even produced by BNI; they were produced by Del Fuego. And the reason that I really like to promote these is it’s not just the CD, it’s the amazing support that Sarah and Flynn, the producers of the CDs, the owners of Del Fuego, give. Am I wrong, they give amazing support to the chapters who get into the Fast Track system.
They’ve created a Web site that is A to Z, soup to nuts, anything you could need and more around the Fast Track programs for BNI chapters out there. And their commitment doesn’t stop there; they’re doing every other week phone calls with chapters that are considering or involved in launching the program to support them. They’re reaching out individually to educational coordinators that want support with how to deliver the educational moments that are an alignment with the curriculum that they’ve developed around the three CDs.
And we’ve created a strategic alliance with Del Fuego, and I think one of the reasons I keep recommending them is not just the strategic alliance, but the amazing additional support that these ladies give for the program.
Now, you’ve added some material to it, developed the system [inaudible 8:40], I mean, you’re a systems guy, and you created some material called The Flawless Execution to Guarantee Success. Do you want to talk about that briefly?
Sure. As I looked at the Del Fuego materials, I said to myself, “Boy, we really need a script that a director can follow inspiring the leadership team to want to do this.” And then each chapter has a facilitator or two that works closely with the chapter. And I said to myself, “Well, how are we going to get member buy-in around this? Once the leadership team is committed to it, how are we going to get the members to buy into it?”
So we created a script that the facilitators could use to basically roll the program out to the membership to get their agreement that, yes, this is something that we’re going to do together, because I think the success of the program is about, as you’ve said a thousand times, Dr. Misner, it’s about getting everybody rowing the boat together. I mean, really, for this to be a success I believe, the chapter is going to decide to do it, 100 percent of the members need to be on board. And Lisa Jordan, who’s one of our directors, she’s also co-owner of Accent American, we chose her chapter to be – the Phoenix chapter to be the flagship chapter of this program in our area, and she and I worked diligently in creating these scripts and these systems for directors and chapters to use in rolling it out. And the Del Fuego sisters, as we affectionately refer to them, have put all this information on www.DelFuego.com. If people click on the BNI Fast Track link off of that home page, they’ll get access to everything that we’ve created and so, so much more under the section that says, “I’m an AD or on the leadership team, and I need a Chapter presentation.”
Let’s repeat that so that the listeners get it. It’s DelFuego, D-E-L-F [as in Frank] U-E-G-O, DelFuego.com, and the URL connection is slash-BNI, but as you said, if you just click on the BNI logo there, it’ll take you to the right spot.
Now, the bottom line here, Tom, the reason that we’re promoting the CD and that the CD works is to help members increase the number of members, the size of the group, but the health of the group and the amount of referrals.
So we’re running out of time. Maybe you could just share a little bit of the results in terms of referral development and the health of the group as a result of using the material.
Sure. I think if all the members participate in listening to the CD set together, in other words, as you say, getting them all rowing the boat together –
Rowing in the same direction at the same time for the same purpose, it makes a world of difference.
Absolutely. In fact, one of the secrets to rolling this program out is to have a chapter’s set goals before they start the program so that all the members are conscious and aware of “Why are we doing this.” And really, we want the vice president reminding the members why we’re doing this constantly throughout the program.
And Networking Secrets, the title, says it all. There’s a secret to this referral based marketing stuff, in terms of growing your business, and it’s on the CD set, and people will learn how to pass more referrals, earn more thank you for closed business. And that’s what it’s all about, Members Making More Money, the four Ms of BNI; that’s what I refer to it as.
Yeah, I love it!
Well, Tom, thank you so much for sharing your experience with this. I mean, BNI can talk about Fast Track all the time, but having directors who are out there where the rubber meets the road using it I think says even more to the power of the program. So I appreciate you doing this podcast with us.
And again, those of you listening to this, go to DelFuego.com, take a look at it. If you get one of the CDs, Tom is on one of the CDs, so you’ll hear him again on that.
Again, thanks, Tom, for doing this podcast. I appreciate it.
Priscilla, back to you.
Okay, that sounds great!
Well, that’s it for this week. I just want to remind you listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by AskIvanMisner.com. Thanks so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you’ll join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.