A long time ago a BNI chapter came to Dr. Misner and said they didn’t think attendance made any difference to the amount of referrals passed. They proposed to increase their attendance, track referrals, and demonstrate that there was no difference.
By the second quarter of this experiment, absenteeism dropped by 71% to .6 absences per member per quarter. Membership went up 50%, and referrals went up 62%.
BNI printed the results of the experiment. Dr. Misner got a call from a member who didn’t believe the results. He proposed to have his chapter track absences and referrals for a year. In their first quarter, they had a 53% drop in absenteeism and a 9% increase in referrals. The second quarter, they had a 58% drop in absenteeism, a 55% increase in members, and a 71% increase in referrals. In the third quarter, their membership increased by 90% and their referrals increased 164%. By that time, the chapter leadership was convinced.
If your chapter has high absenteeism, what’s in it for you and the other members in better attendance is more referrals.
You can read the original document here:
Have you had a similar experience in your chapter? Would you like to duplicate this experiment? Share your experience in the comments.
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Complete Transcript of Episode 436 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and the Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan. How are you today?
I am doing great, Priscilla, and I am talking today on a topic that comes up all the time as I visit regions all around the world and I cannot believe that I have not gone deep into this topic on the BNI Podcast.
What made me think about it is I had a BNI Director just recently reach out to me and say, “Do you have any podcasts on the topic of absenteeism and how it affects referrals?” I said I was sure that I do. I did a search.
By the way, if you are listening to this, you can search for topics here on BNI Podcast just by doing a search.
I did a search and I realized I haven’t done this topic. So that is what I am going to do today and talk about how absences have a direct impact on the amount of referrals on a chapter.
I came upon this a long time ago when I had a chapter come to me and say we don’t believe that attendance makes any difference in the quantity of referrals. We don’t want to follow the program anymore. We don’t want to follow the attendance requirement.
I said, listen, the attendance requirement wasn’t created by me. It was created by the Board of Avisors. The International Board of Advisors, which is made up of nothing but members, is the one that creates all the policies for BNI. I told them that.
They said, yeah, yeah- we know that, but we think they were wrong. We really believe that attendance will make no difference in the amount of referrals. Here is what we propose: we propose that we improve the attendance in our chapter and continue to track the referrals. Ivan, we will show you that attendance has no impact on referrals. If we can show you that, will you go to the Board of Advisors and ask them to change this policy?
How do you like that as a question?
I like that. I am listening. I am just thinking to myself how could you not think that being there would make a difference?
You know what? I was happy to consider it because the attendance policy is the biggest hassle for us in the organization. People don’t want to have to attend, so if we could show that it didn’t work, I was all for it.
My experience was anecdotal and I saw that when people weren’t there, it didn’t feel like they were passing as many, but they wanted to track it and I said yes.
Years ago, we published the results and you have to understand that the published results, the second printing of it is going to be in this podcast as a PDF so if you are listening to this, go get the printing of it, the second printing of it and take a look a look at the numbers that I am going to be talking about.
So we printed what I am going to describe here. Then we did the second printing and I will explain why we did two in just a minute.
So this chapter, this is back, Priscilla, when we had chapters that were way too small. This was maybe a core group today. This chapter had 14 members, and that is really too small to operate as a chapter. They had 2.1 absences per member per quarter. Every three months, their absences were 2.1 per member. Their referrals were 188.
Now, if you look at the original PDF, you will see that we called them “leads” many years ago. We changed them from “leads” to “referrals” because referrals was much better than a lead, but same concept. So 188 referrals with 14 members. That is in a quarter. That is roughly 55 in a month, which is pretty standard, actually, for a group that size.
To their credit, they really tracked their numbers, and in the first quarter after that baseline quarter, they had a 52% drop in absenteeism. Pretty impressive. They dropped to one absence per member per quarter. Their number of members went up 29% to 18 members. Their number of referrals, Priscilla, went up 43% to 269 referrals in three months.
Now, the second quarter they did this, their absenteeism dropped by 71%. It dropped to .6 absences per member per quarter. Their membership went up 50% to 21 members and their referrals went up 62% to 305 referrals.
305! So absenteeism dropped 71% and referrals went up 62%. Pretty darn good. So we published that and let me tell you what happened. If you are reading the PDF, you are not going to hear this story because I didn’t post this, but here is what happened: I got a call when we published those numbers from another chapter in southern California. The first chapter was in southern California, and there was another chapter was also in southern California and the President said, “We read your article.” It was in SuccessNet. “We read your article and we don’t believe it. We think those numbers are bogus.”
I said, “Why do you think they are bogus by a chapter in BNI? I will give you the President’s number. Call him. He will tell you.”
This is actually what he said to me. He said, “No, I am not going to call him. The guy is probably in your pocket. He will probably do whatever you tell him.”
I was like, you really don’t understand this organization. If only people would do what I told them.
He said, “Here is what we are going to do. We don’t think six months is long enough. We think it needs to be a year. So if we track it for one year, do you promise that you will publish the results? Because we think it will be different.”
I said, “Absolutely. I promise I will publish your results, even if they are different.”
So here is what he did: in the first quarter- by the way, they had 1.9 absences per member, almost the exact same amount. They actually had a few less members and passed 122 referrals per quarter.
So in their first quarter after the baseline, they had a 53% drop in absenteeism. So almost the same drop. A smaller increase in members, 9% with a 9% increase in referrals.
But the second quarter had a 58% drop in absenteeism, a 55% increase in members and a 71% increase in referrals. Almost identical to the first one. The first one had a 78% drop in absences. This had a 58%. But it increased members by 50% and this by 55%. The increase in referrals was 62%in the first chapter and this was 71%. Really close.
But here is where it gets really interesting, Priscilla: They went another quarter. One more quarter. The number of absences dropped was still in the 50% range, a little over. This is one quarter longer, three months longer. Their membership went up by 90%.
So they went from what to what?
Let me see what they were at. They were at 11 or 12 members and went up to 20.
That is great.
Listen to this. Their referrals went up 164%. It went up to 322 [referrals].
At the end of the third quarter, the President called me up and said, “Never mind. We are not going to go for a another quarter. You are right. They are right. It is clearly-”
Actually, when he called me, the first thing he said was, “We have done the numbers for the third quarter. The numbers are different.”
I was like, oh no. Okay, how were they different?
He explained that they were way higher than the other group. We talked about it and he felt that they were way higher because the group was a lot more committed but with time, the trust really went up and the trust led to more referrals. They brought more members in and of course you had to build the trust there.
So in fact, you really need to look at nine months to a year to get the full picture, and they had a full enough picture for them to decide that absenteeism makes a huge difference.
So here is the bottom line: if you are in a chapter with a high rate of absenteeism, what’s in it for you to get the members there are actual, tangible results in referrals. When people show up consistently, they are going to build relationships, they are going to get to know and trust each other better, and they are going to be more committed to giving you referrals.
Don’t believe me. Look at these numbers. If you are in a chapter, you drop absenteeism and watch how much the referrals will go up. The truth is, Priscilla, people don’t care about how to do something until they understand why you want to do something. The “why” for making sure you have regular attendance is that it has a direct and dramatic linear correlation to referrals.
Chapters who have a better attendance record have a much higher referral passing.
It makes total sense, I am telling you.
It really does, and the numbers don’t lie. They are pretty obvious. I invite you if you are listening to this podcast to print this out and to have this discussion. It is some old data. I would love to have another chapter, you know, try and do the same thing if you are really going to track the data. Then share it, and I would love to publish it.
But I am here to tell you, these numbers are compelling. If you want a strong chapter I ask my accept mediocrity when excellence is an option? Excellence is an option for all the chapters, and it begins with making sure that people show up.
Any thoughts, Priscilla?
I think it’s great. I totally agree. I think it absolutely makes sense because you are there. You are in person. You get excited by what other people say in their presentations. You come up with ideas for how to refer them. That totally makes sense to me.
Yeah, so listen. I would love to hear your comments if you listen to this podcast. Drop me a note if you had a similar experience with your chapters. Please share it here. IF you want to test it in your chapter, let me know. Track attendance for six months or nine months and I would love to publish the results.
That is everything for today, Priscilla.
Okay great, Ivan. Thank you so much. I think that is it for this week. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.