The mission of BNI is to help its members increase business through positive, and professional word of mouth programs that encourage and develop long-term, meaningful relationships.
Sounds like exactly what your auto shop needs, right?
Why belonging to BNI is like having sales people work for you
The idea behind BNI is "Givers Gain". It goes along with the natural law of reciprocity that when you give someone a referral, they naturally want to give referrals back to you. When you belong to BNI, fellow members are actively promoting your auto shop. Any time fellow members come across someone who benefits from your specific service, they'll market your shop on your behalf.
Even just one successful referral more than pays for any costs associated with BNI membership.
Each "seat" in a BNI chapter is exclusive. This means that if you join a BNI group, no other auto repair shops can join that group. The exception is if you are a specialty shop, let's say you do only imports, a shop who specializes in domestics could join with your approval. A situation like this will often lead to more referrals between you and this other shop. That makes a "power sphere".
But you have to be sure you handle your membership correctly
There is no question that BNI membership is a huge asset for new businesses, but only if you approach this membership correctly. Chiefly, you have to find the appropriate chapter for your shop, and you have to be actively involved.
BNI membership isn't about take, take. Members are happy to market for one another, with the understanding that everyone is doing his or her part to benefit the group as a whole.
1-on-1s will help stand you apart
One of the most effective ways to ensure that you are noticed and remembered as a BNI member is to hold 1-on-1 meetings. This will help you get to know your fellow chapter members on a personal level. It'll prove to them that you're not just in this organization for your own benefit, but because you value its worth.
Of course, enjoying benefits as a result of membership is never a bad thing, which is why we encourage you to openly invite your fellow BNI members to visit your shop. In fact, why not hold a networking event or social mixer at the shop?
We know what you're thinking: who'd want to spend time at an auto shop? But remember, your fellow chapter members don't ever spend time at a shop. They certainly never get a behind-the-scenes look at the day-to-day happenings of a mechanic. You'd be surprised how many people would love the opportunity to pull back the curtain and spend some time in your garage.
Not only will your invite give them this opportunity, but it'll give you the chance to make yourself better known and demonstrate the value you offer.
Here are a few other tips we suggest you follow in order to make the most out of your BNI membership:
- Get involved in leadership of your chapter. For a few extra hours of commitment on your part, you can enjoy priceless marketing opportunities for your shop. And everyone respects a leader. That respect will transcend into your day job.
- 60 second "commercials." During your BNI meeting, offer valuable tips in the form of a 60 second commercial. In other words, give away some free and valuable advice to help reel in your potential customers. This could be advice on how to prolong a car's brakes, how to save on gas, or a DIY way to keep tires clean.
- Storytelling. As part of your conversations at BNI meetings, tell stories of how you helped your clients. Don't just talk about the work, but talk about the customer. Talk about how you helped one customer who needed to drive across the country for a great job opportunity, but was afraid their car couldn't handle the journey. People love stories about other people. Personalize the work you do.
- Show & Tell. We loved Show & Tell as kids. Guess what, we still do as adults. Seeing something is far more effective than hearing about something. During your meetings, bring in an overused air filter and explain how it can interfere with a vehicle's performance. Or bring in old oil from a car and compare it to fresh oil.
Too many people jump at the opportunity to join an organization, then sit back and wait for the benefits to fall on their laps. But it doesn't work that way. You only get out what you put in. BNI membership can boost your business, if you approach it with a comprehensive strategy, as outlined above.