From the Founder


Want a Lot More Referrals? Form a Team That Shows Up to Play

By: Ivan Misner, Ph.D
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    From the Founder

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    Ivan Misner, Ph.D

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Would you like to substantially increase the number of referrals your BNI chapter generates? If you answered yes, read on, because here’s how.

Many years ago, I had a chapter President call me with a proposition.  He said his chapter felt the attendance policy was a hassle and they didn’t believe it made any difference in referrals, and was actually a drawback to membership.  I told him I didn’t create the policy – it was created by the Board of Advisors, made up exclusively of BNI members.  He replied that his group wanted to show me and the Board of Advisors that attendance had no impact on referrals or membership.  None.  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.

They used the prior quarter as their baseline and began focusing on improving attendance starting the upcoming month.  It’s important to note that during this time, they did nothing else other than improve attendance to show us it wouldn’t make a difference. 

So, what were their results?  Well, after six months they significantly dropped absenteeism by a whopping 71%.  What about referrals you ask?  Well they went up by 62%!  And as an added bonus, membership in the group went up by 50%!  At the end of their little experiment, the President called me and said, “never mind, it’s clear that absenteeism hurts the performance of the group.”  I thanked him, and I thanked the group for doing this study. I asked if I could publish the results.  They graciously agreed, and the table below is based on their original work.

Chapter 1     
Per Member Per Month
Chapter Baseline
Quarter 1
Quarter 2

But wait, the story gets better. 

You see, after I published the original article, I had another chapter President call me up and tell me his group had read the article, and they thought I made it all up!  I told him to “call the President and confirm it” himself.  I’ll never forget what he said next.  He exclaimed, “No, this guy’s probably in your pocket, and he’ll say whatever you tell him to say!”  (Wow! He clearly doesn’t know the average BNI member, I thought.)  “So, how can I help you,” I asked?  

He went on to say his group felt that even if the data was true, six months wasn’t long enough to confirm the results.  It should be done for at least a year. He wanted to focus on reducing absenteeism for a year to show me the results would be different if the study went longer.  I told him I thought that was a great idea.  I also discovered there was, in fact, a big difference in tracking the results longer.

The second group had very similar results after six months.  They dropped absenteeism by more than 50%, their membership went up by 55%, and their referrals went up by 71%.  Pretty close to the first group – right?

But here’s where it gets truly incredible:  At the nine-month mark, their absenteeism was stable with a drop of over 50%, but their membership had increased by a whopping 90%, and their referrals went through the roof with an increase of 164%!!!

At this point, the President called me and he also said, “never mind – we get it, absenteeism clearly brings down results… a lot.”   Although they stopped tracking the data, I stayed in touch with the chapter for a long time.  They continued to focus on attendance, and they grew to a 40+ member group. By that time, they were passing more referrals than they ever thought possible.

Chapter 2     
ABSENCES Per Member Per Month
Chapter Baseline
Quarter 1
Quarter 2
Quarter 3

You can’t get a haircut – over the phone!  And, you can’t have a successful BNI group if you don’t show up.  Absenteeism effects membership and referrals.  The results are clear. There is a direct and dramatic, linear correlation between absenteeism and referrals. As the groups decreased their absences, they increased their membership which substantially increased their referrals.  High absenteeism results in low referrals. Low absenteeism results in high referrals.

The lesson here is: if your chapter is lax on attendance, it will affect your pocketbook.

It is in your best interest to reduce absenteeism in your chapter. If this is done in conjunction with a concerted effort to get back to basics — like finding good members and having them immerse in our educational content — you will end up with a chapter that is more successful than you ever thought possible. 

Why accept mediocrity, when excellence is an option?  Excellence is an option.  Start today and bring excellence to your group.