BNI member John Calleja runs a kitchen and home furnishings business in Pembrokeshire. He is part of a highly effective Trades Power Team, which holds regular get-togethers in addition to the weekly BNI meetings. Being a member of a strong Power Team is key to John’s success.
We asked John some questions about his business and his experience at BNI.
How do you find new customers?
We advertise on the front cover of ‘Pembrokeshire’s Best’ Magazine, which is distributed to every household in Pembrokeshire every six weeks or so. We also have a lot of work through word of mouth from previous customers and of course at the Resolute Chapter BNI meetings!
Why did you decide to join BNI – and when was that?
I decided to join BNI after attending two meetings as a visitor. After the second meeting I was convinced it was the right thing for my business. Not only did it give me an opportunity to promote my business, it also gave me a number of reliable tradesmen who I could use to help grow my business.
Did you attend as a visitor the first time you were asked?
Yes I did visit the first time I was asked. I was invited by Tom Kinver of Kinver Kreations, who said that it worked for him and that he gained 40% of his business from BNI. I had nothing to lose apart from a few hours sleep!!
When did you realize that BNI was going to work for you?
After the second meeting. In both meetings there was a varied attendance of different businesses, which gave me an opportunity to promote my business to other visitors.
What other networking groups have you tried, and which ones have worked well?
I used to attend lots of network groups in my previous job all over the UK but only BNI in Pembrokeshire. I found that the BNI meeting had more structure than most other events and it’s more personal as you get to know other business owners over a long period of time. This builds trust and friendships.
What tools or resources in BNI have you found most helpful?
I probably haven’t utilised everything that is open to me as regards tools and resources from BNI but I am working on it!!
What proportion of your revenue do you generate through BNI?
I am a relatively new member as I only joined in September 2012. So after the first six months as a member new business gained through BNI would be around 16%. However I envisage that this will increase to around 30% over the next year.
How does the Trades Power Team work together?
I think that it works well as we are all like minded and put our customers first. I feel that we have a real opportunity in Pembrokeshire to service both existing home owners and second home owners. At the end of the day, it is a one stop shop of good reliable tradesman and suppliers.
When the opportunity arises, we collaborate on jobs. For example, I can ask Grant Bowen or Karl Fyfe to install a kitchen, and Steve Ousley to handle the electrics. Equally, they introduce my services to their customers where appropriate.
How much of your BNI work comes directly from the Trades Power Team?
At the moment I would say that all of my converted referrals have come via members of the Trades power team. Although I am following up on others from outside the trades power team, these tend to take a little longer to convert.
As we meet every six weeks at my showroom premises and I have taken on the role of heading the Trades team, I have an opportunity to remind everyone what I can offer as regards new products and services! Again this is an example of “Givers Gain”. It is well worth the sandwiches, fresh fruit, tea and coffee!!!
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned as a member?
The biggest lesson to date is that givers really do gain; if you are an active or pro active member then BNI will work for you.
What would you do differently if you were starting your membership again, from the beginning?
I’m not sure, I might have asked more questions early on and have had more meetings with my mentor.
What key networking lessons have you learnt?
The most important networking lesson is that you really do need to listen to what the rest of the members say in their 60 seconds and, more importantly, in their 10 minute presentation.
How can people get in touch with you?
If anyone would like to contact me please call 01437 762945 or visit our existing website www.lawrencelyons.com. Our new web site will be up and running in the next few weeks!! (Come on Angus do your magic!)