My BNI® Story

Plug in and Grow!

This Member Success Story was submitted by Dutton Smith, BNI Vermont Ambassador

When I started my business, I was 60 years old.  I did not see HomeSmith Services growing beyond me, myself and I.  I viewed it as my sunset career, doing a few inspections a week.  A nice way to ease into retirement.  I soon realized that I needed to do more than that.  I wasn’t prepared for the added cost of being in business for myself, and the loss of benefits (like health care) that I was getting as part of my previous job.  I needed a way to ramp up my volume to pay for all of this.

Along came BNI.  I was invited to the kickoff event for the Middlebury BNI chapter the same month that I started my business.  I thought, “This is perfect.  Another way to generate a few leads and keep me busy.”  I remember my interview for membership when they asked the question, “What are your plans for business growth?  Are you of a mindset to grow your business as we give you referrals over the years?”  I responded that I didn’t really have any plans for growth other than to keep myself busy.  I certainly was NOT going to hire employees and expand my company.  What would be the point?  I’m too close to retirement.  Well… BNI had other plans.  I was not prepared for the amount of work the BNI network would throw at me!

My business is seasonal.  Spring, summer and fall are my busy times.  That’s when people tend to be looking for, and buying houses.  My second year in business, I had to turn away almost 100 jobs because I could not meet their schedule needs.  The same thing happened in my third year.  As 2019 began, I asked myself, “Why not position the company to handle all that extra work?”  I knew what that meant, of course.  I had to hire an employee.  Just the thing I said I would never do!

I really did not want to hire employees because of all the extra work, insurance, payroll, training, etc.  Then it hit me.  All the resources I needed were already available in my BNI network!  The whole process turned out to be much easier and less expensive than I thought.  I received expert guidance from my accountant, insurance agent, bookkeeper, and payroll service, (all part of BNI) and was able to get everything set up with a minimum of hassle.   I hired another inspector at the beginning of the summer to keep up with the work that was coming in, and I am contemplating hiring an administrative employee next year.  On top of that, I’m working on a plan to sell the business to my employee.  That was never in my plan, but BNI has made it possible.

BNI is a powerful system!  If you are serious about growing your business, just plug into the BNI system and your business will grow.  It’s that simple.

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