Would you like to substantially increase the number of referrals that your BNI chapter generates? If so, listen.
Years ago, a chapter president wanted to prove to Dr. Misner that attendance had no effect on the number of referrals passed. After 6 months, absenteeism dropped by 71%. Referrals went up 62% and membership went up 50%. A second chapter tried the same experiment. After 9 months, absences decreased by 53%, referrals went up 164%, and membership grew by 90%.
If your chapter is lax on attendance, it’s going to affect your pocketbook.
Listen to Episode 490 for more data that supports the role attendance plays in membership growth and referrals passed.
Brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube.
Complete Transcript of Episode 518 –
Hello everybody and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube, which features Dr. Ivan Miser and many other networking experts. 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 and where are you this week?
I just got back from a visit to the Tucson BNI region. I love that region, I’ve been there several times. It was great to be back!
Good! What is this podcast about?
So the title of the podcast is, “Want more referrals? Show up!” So here is a question to everyone in BNI listening to this podcast or reading the transcript; Would you like to have a substantially increase in the number of referrals that your BNI chapter generate? If you answered yes, listen up, here’s how. Years ago, many years ago, I had a chapter president call me with a proposition. He said his chapter felt that the attendance policy was a hassle and they didn’t believe it made any difference in referrals. As a matter of fact, he said he felt it was actually a drawback to membership. So, I told him I didn’t create the policy, it was created by a board or advisers which is made up exclusively of BNI members. He said his group- and I’m not making this up, wanted to test something out. They wanted to show me and the board, that the attendance had no impact on referrals and it had no impact of membership. None.
Priscilla, I know you’re chuckling, but at that point I was not because we did not have hard data back then. I’m like “okay, fine.” This attendance thing is driving me nuts. Anyway, so he asked me if I would publish the findings in our newsletter, and ask the board to reconsider this policy if they could document that it made no difference. I happily agreed to both.
So, they used the prior quarter as their baseline and they began focusing on improving attendance starting with the next month. It is important to note that this during this time they did nothing else other than improve attendance. They really didn’t focus on anything else other than improving attendance. Now, I’m going to include a couple of graphics in this podcast and it will show some of the data that I’m talking about here, so that you can visually see the graphics.
So, they used the prior quarter. Then for six months, they looked at it on a quarter-by-quarter basis, they did it for six months. So, what were their results? Well, they decreased their absences, they had a 0.7 absences per member month. So roughly every member missed a meeting every other month, roughly. And in their first quarter, they dropped their absenteeism by 52% – so a big drop in absenteeism. After six months, they significantly dropped absenteeism by 71%. But what about referrals, you ask? Referrals went up to 62%. So, what started at 0.7 absences per member-per-month, they dropped it after six months, the absenteeism, by 71% and the referrals went up to 62%. As an added bonus, membership went up to 50%. Our data, and this was the chapter tracking. So, at the end of our little experiment, The president called me up and said, “Never mind. It’s clear that absenteeism hurts the performance of the group. We do not want to change anything.” So, I thanked him and I thanked the group for the study. I asked if I could publish the results and they graciously agreed.
Buthere is where the study gets really awesome: after I published the original article- I think this was in the nineties, I had another chapter president call me up after he read the article, and said “You made this stuff all up.” I said “I didn’t make this up! Call the president. He’ll confirm that himself.” I’ll never forget what he said next, he said “No. This guy is probably in your pocket. He’ll do whatever you tell him to do.” I’m like wow, you don’t know BNI members, I thought! So, I said “Okay. Well if you don’t want to call him, how can I help? What can I do for you?” So, he went on to say that even if the data were true, he said six months wasn’t long enough to confirm the results until at least a year. He wanted to focus on absenteeism for a year to show me that the results on absenteeism would be different if the study went longer. I told him that I thought it was a great idea and I thought it might be interesting to see if there was a difference!
Interestingly enough, there was. In fact, a big difference in the results by tracking it a year longer. The second group started with very similar absenteeism. They had 0.6 absences per member-per-month. They had really similar results at the end of six months. They dropped absenteeism by more than 50%, their membership went up to 55%, and their referrals went up 71%. Which is pretty close to the first group. But, here is where it gets amazing, at the nine month mark their absenteeism was stable with a drop of over 50% percent. So, they dropped half of their absenteeism, but their membership had increased a whopping 90%.
Yeah, wow! And their referrals went through the roof with an increase of 164%! And you can see all those numbers in this table that we’ll include here. So, after nine months, the president called me up and he also said “Yeah, never mind. We get it. Absenteeism clearly brings down results a lot.” And although they stopped tracking that data after nine months, I stayed in touch with the chapter for a long time. They continued to focus on attendance, and they grew to a well over 40 member chapter. By that time, they were passing more referrals than they ever thought possible.
Yeah, well that makes sense.
It really does!
Because, if a person is sitting across from you at a table and it jogs your memory. You start thinking of things you need to do with them, or who you need to talk to about them, you go and you do it.
Yeah, that is right. You know, it’s part and parcel with that time repetition. Every week you are getting in front of people, you’ are constantly getting reminded of them, and they are doing it right. They are teaching you something every week. They are teaching you a little aspect of their business which makes it easier for you to refer them. So, you got to be there. You cannot get a hair cut or the phone. You cannot have a Successful BNI group if you don’t show up. Absenteeism effects membership and referrals.
The results could not be clearer. There is a direct linear correlation between absenteeism and referrals. As a group decreases their absences, they increase their membership, which substantially increases the referrals. High absenteeism results in low referrals. Low absenteeism results in high referrals.
We talked about this in a previous podcast- I don’t remember the number of the podcast- but it was about that study that was done in Italy, Priscilla. I’ll try to find that podcast and include it here in the link, because, yet again more hard data that absenteeism would bring down the success of the chapter.
So, the lesson here – and I would love to hear any thoughts you have, if your chapter lacks on attendance that is going to effect your pocket book. Plain and simple.
I think you are right. The last thing I would like to say is, if you’re absent, you are not going to bring a guest. And your guests are a great source of referrals, so it will effect it in two ways.
Yeah, again, visitors are a great source of referrals. They are also obviously potential members, which brings in more referrals. Look, I get it. It is not easy to do this, but let me tell you, the results can be amazing if you do it right. I have said this many times in my podcast, “Why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option?” Excellence is an option! Start today, bring excellence to your group, focus on reducing absenteeism. I promise you, you are going to get better results.
Well that’s everything for today. Priscilla, back to you- wait, hang on. I just found the episode that I was talking about where there was another study done in Italy. It’s episode number 490. It was a study done by a BNI member, Beatrice. So, go listen to podcast 490, and you will see even more data that supports what we talked about today.
Now I’m done, Priscilla, back to you!
Okay, perfect. Thank you Dr. Misner. Well, I would like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by The Networking For Success channel on YouTube. Thank you so much for listening, this is Priscilla Rice. We look forward to having you join us again next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI podcast.