Taking Your BNI Chapter From Good to GREAT!


A look inside BNI All About Business who increased their membership from 27 to 50 in 6 months and increased their Closed Business by 450%

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins examined 1,435 companies over 40 years and found 11 who had made the leap from good-to-great, whilst others within their industry were unable to do this.

Does this sound like your BNI Chapter? Is your Chapter ‘good’, but it earnestly desires to be ‘great’ – and how do you make the leap? Let’s examine how one Chapter that has moved from good-to-great recently, what makes them stand out and get outstanding results, whilst truly embodying the principles of BNI and “Givers Gain®”. Here are the of the initiatives taken on board by BNI All About Business that gave them the momentum to successful make the leap:-

What’s Happening Now? – Confront the Brutal Facts:

Jim Collin’s explains in his book that you can’t improve the situation if you don’t do a reality check and face the brutal facts. The changes for BNI All About Business started with the new Leadership Team, who quickly realised at leadership team training that their chapter wasn’t all they thought it was. In recent months they had lost many high quality members and didn’t want to let this continue. They did an honest assessment of the chapter, looking at the fundamentals and identifying members who were contributing positively to the values and systems – and more importantly – who were not! Once they had the ‘brutal facts’ to hand, they were able to work on how to create the chapter they desired. Over the first two months, they dropped seven non performing members. We all know – BNI isn’t for everyone, and not everyone can be on the winning team, but a winning team needs ‘all hands on deck’. Each of these Leaders, and those around them, exhibited the courage to make the decisions that were needed. They knew they were making the right decisions for the right reasons based on the facts they had the courage to gather.

Vision and Focus:

The changes started with the new Leadership Team creating a vision for how their new chapter would look and work. The first step was to take the 10 min presentation section and went over what’s working and what could be improved. The lights went on, and they were able to get the Chapter’s buy in. All members were focused and clear on what was expected and how they had to perform. The dynamics changed as they started to look at their Chapter as a business opportunity, rather than just a club!

Accountability – Culture of Discipline:

The chapter members know that each and every one of them are accountable to themselves, and the Chapter. A “BNI Fives System” was introduced – based on the fundamentals of BNI:-

1. Attendance
2. Referrals
3. Dance Cards (one-to-ones)
4. Visitors
5. Contribution

Members must remain above 5 points each month and are reviewed regularly by the Leadership Team. Those that fall below are mentored to improve performance, and if that doesn’t get results, they are removed from the chapter. The system keeps all members at the highest performing level which not only benefits each member but the whole chapter. Think about it for a minute! Why do most ‘good intentions’ fail? Because they lack accountability – they fail to achieve credibility and they have no authenticity. BNI All About Business is committed to accountability.

Finding the Right People – First Who, Then What:

BNI All About Business then introduced a system in which they are finding the best quality members for their chapter. Adopting the attitude of “membership is a privilege’, even if a category was available, it had to go to the right person! One who gets what BNI is about and what the Chapter is about. They want people who were willing to be a part of “all hands on deck”.

Once a potential member wants to join, they are invited to submit an application and then – undertake an evaluation process before being accepted. Over the next four meetings they undergo a mentoring and assessment process. The BNI system, commitment and expectations are clearly set during this time – so all applicants know where they stand and what is expected of them. Currently 10-20% of the applications don’t make the cut.

Always on Show and Always “In Business”:

The chapter has adopted the “Trade Show” mentality. You know how it gets with business, everything is just the ‘norm’ until you are doing a big presentation or attending a trade show, so you dust off the suit, get your presentation folders printed, as you are determined to make an impeccable impression! And of course, you know when you put in the effort, you get the sales. Imagine doing this each and every week! How much better would your business be? BNI All About Business have made each week a “Trade Show” week. A “Trade Show” needs:

• Every stand (seat) represented – you must attend or send a substitute
• Every representative must have a hosting/sales attitude
• Visitors – an essential element to a trade show – as without them it’s a non event.
• All representatives must wear their name badge

Categories & Power Teams – No More Category Cowboys!

One of the biggest killers of your BNI chapter is ‘category cowboys’ who think they do everything in their particular industry. Not at BNI All About Business! They have several broad traditional categories represented by two or more people or are seeking applications, ie:-

2 builders
2 accountants
2 coaches
5 in the IT industry!

Yes – that’s not a typo. So how do they do it? The Leadership Team is clear, and each member is fully aware of what is and what isn’t their category – ie one is a builder – commercial and another is a builder – domestic . They have adopted an ‘abundance’ mentality and not the ‘poverty mentality’ of the category cowboys (“I’m missing out!”). Instead the lights have gone on – and they have realised the power and opportunity to build really effective power teams, which benefit them and creates even more growth for their businesses. Working with power teams allows members to focus on what they are really good at and are passionate about in their industry.

The Results – Would you like this for your chapter?

• Increased chapter members from 27 – 50+ in 6 months with a goal to be at 60 members by the start of 2011

• Chapter churn rate has decreased to under 20%

• Increased closed business 450% from $17,000 per week to $123,000 per week over same period last year

• 98.7% attendance over the last three months

• 8 -12 visitors each and every week

• multiple applications for the same category allowing them to choose the best people for their chapter

Fundamentals – The Flywheel Effect:

The main reason a business owner joins BNI is because we provide a structured system to enable them to grow their businesses by referrals, share ideas and contacts. It’s the fundamentals of the system which make it work. All of steps taken by BNI All About Business aren’t new or different, they are based on the fundamentals of the BNI system which has been tried and tested for the last 25 years.

Jim Collin’s talks about the “The Flywheel Effect”:
“Now picture a huge, heavy flywheel. It’s a massive, metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle. It’s about 100 feet in diameter, 10 feet thick, and it weighs about 25 tons. That flywheel is your company. Your job is to get that flywheel to move as fast as possible, because momentum — mass times velocity — is what will generate superior economic results over time.”

It’s the same for Chapters! BNI All About Business took the fundamentals, made many small initiatives, implemented these with accountability and drive, created momentum and were able to generate superior results over time. By following the system and keeping members accountable to the system – truly great chapters emerge.

Do you know the definition of insanity?

Doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting a different result! Chapters don’t magically achieve what BNI All About Business did – it requires some change, driven by the Leadership Team, and depends on the support of the members for their involvement, ideas and engagement to make it work. To start the momentum:

– confront the facts;
– create a vision and get focused;
– commit to accountability and discipline;
– find the right people;
– always be on show;
– create powerful power-teams.

So, the questions for you and your chapter is:

Which fundamentals could be improved?
Which systems do you have in place within your chapter to keep your members accountable?

Leave your comments below so we can all learn and grow together.

Categories : Chapter Growth


  1. Lynden Boehm says:

    What an inspiring story – I love it. It’s just the fundamentals + accountability! plus a lot of hard decisions!!! I love the idea of having a 4 week mentoring & assessment process before a member is accepted….mmm lots of food for thought in here. Thanks and congratulations to BNI All about Business.

  2. Sebastiaan says:

    Having visited the chapter I can say the excitement in the room is palpable. They expect and get a lot out of each other. A great job, well done!

  3. Great summary guys. As a newish member who joined All About Business about 3 months ago, I was stunned to walk into the room and feel the energy. And the commitment.

    In just 3 months the group is even stronger and is constantly adapting, we are constantly improving our ‘Trade Show’ by tweaking the rules. For example, we now have just 40 seconds to present. And we sit down at 5 to 7 now. And we are all responsible for making the visitors welcome.

    With over 60 people in the room every week we manage to finish on time. And still have a lot of fun along the way despite the strong rules and the need to hurry everything along.

    One of the key factors in being Great is a great leader. Our chapter has a lot of strong leaders amongst the leadership team. But one in particular is the inspiration, the driver, Roland Hanekroot.

    All great organisations need a ‘Roland’.

  4. I can’t agree more: a winning team needs ‘all hands on deck’.

    And the ‘Fives System’ of accountability is just brilliant. We already know the power of doing these five actions well… getting every member of a chapter doing them well is obviously powerful, as shown by the success of BNI All About Business. Congratulation on having the courage to implement this system.

    This is an agenda item at my chapter’s leadership team meeting tomorrow.

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