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Since no one has responded I will toss in my $.02. I joined a BNI group about 15 years ago. The group remained as a group for a good 10 years in different forms. As you said, you are the easiest referral in the room because everyone has a car and they all want to be ACTIVE so to refer themselves to you is the cost of an oil change and they can come back saying how wonderful you are (whether they believe it true or not). Having been in business for over 30 years I thought I had my own referral group and would not be able to connect with that many.  I ended up making a lot of very good customers and friends. That being said if you are not truly a genuine person (others in the group not you) people will see right through it and will not follow through with being referred or at least not have the built up trust one should have with a genuine referral.

Even in a BNI group real referrals are done because someone believes in you. The best way to get this across from the referrer to the referral is in ones own words, not a script. While you need to have somewhat of an elevator speech when you first meet someone in a networking environment, I was always like Hi, I'm Dave, I fix cars. It always got a laugh and people found me approachable. Remember, as the car guy you are just a dumb mechanic anyhow....it's not like you are a real businessman. (perception) What was great was when they got to know me they realized I was one of the better business minds in the group. Good luck with it.

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I agree with both of your assertions that the auto repair guy in the group is the easiest referral. It may also be the easiest one to mess up. Make sure to give those referrals extra attention as the referrer will likely bring it up as a testimonial and the more others hear others talk about how you've saved their bacon, the more likely they are to put their reputation on the line.

It's probably pretty rare that your fellow members will be actively pursuing leads for you. It happens more opportunistically when they hear about somebody's car needing repair or a negative experience getting a repair done so I'd say keep it as short and simple as possble. i.e. 'Who fixes your cars?'. Let that then lead to... 'I have a guy...'

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On 1/25/2018 at 11:45 AM, xrac said:

I am trying to come up with the best elevator question for someone else to use as a door opener to refer our shop.  Here are some of my ideas are there any thoughts, ideas, suggestions:

Hi xrac! Don't ask people to refer you unless you give them the "tools" to do that. You couldn't do a brake job without the right tools, correct?? Same thing here. You can do this with a simple business card. No not your typical "regular old business card" - but one with your "tag line" or question on it. Be sure to include your picture, customer reviews, a simple map and an offer would be a good idea. With the price of printing, you can print a couple of sets and "test" the headlines or questions. 

Hope this helps!

Matthew Lee
"The Car Count Fixer" 
Join me on this New Training Webinar

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I've been in BNI for 5 years now, and it is very much worth it. Like someone else already said, I think most of the people will refer to you when they're talking to someone who is having a problem or mentions something about needing service. I doubt they would bring it up just to bring it up and make a referral. While I do get referrals from the group, my biggest return is from the people in my group, some of them have fleets. Not sure how you spend 5-6 hrs a week. Well, if you're new to the group and are doing lots of one to ones that would take up some time. I really enjoy our group, good friends and great learning about other industries. BTW, if I had to pick one of your questions it would be the first one.

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I agree that you DO have to give your networking group some wording to help them promote you.

But an old school elevator pitch makes you sound like you’re new in business and need customers. Such as: “I repair import cars. We do it right the first time, at fair prices … blah, blah blah.” It’s more of a story these days. “I’ve been fixing cars for ___ years and love it. It is very satisfying to figure out a problem and take care of a customer at the same time. We specialize in import cars, but customers like us so we work on their American cars as well.”

To help them sell you, what do you specialize in? What do you like working on?

“I’m known for my _______ (brake jobs) because I’ve found some quality parts at good prices.”

“I get cars from other shops.” Which says you are respected by other shops in your area.

“I have technicians who’ve been with me for ____ years.”

“We’ve been in business for ___ years so we must be doing something right.”

A “tag line” was mentioned. Put that on the back of your business card. Hand it to someone with that side up so they HAVE to read it, then they turn it over.

At a networking-ish event, put something interesting on your name tag. Draw a wrench, draw a spark plug. Bring some small pictures of the type of cars you like to work on and a glue stick to put on your name tag. It will make for a conversation starter, ice-breaker.

I suggest you talk about other things before what you do or they do. That will surely come up, especially if you can’t quite find something in common to talk about.


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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      My son is not in the automotive industry. He is in the commercial real estate business. However, the workplace problems are the same. Recently, his frustration with the heads of the company reached an all-time high. When I asked him why he doesn’t speak up and let the leadership know how he is feeling, he responded, “Anyone who has voiced concerns or issues has been viewed as weak and incapable of doing their job. I don’t want to be viewed like that.” This is an example of a toxic work environment.
      If you are a shop owner, you are a leader. And leaders must be approachable. That means that you are willing to hear the concerns of others and have them express themselves. It also means that while you may not agree with someone’s perspective on an issue, it is their perspective, and that viewpoint needs to be recognized and respected.
      Make it known that you want to hear the opinions of others. Literally, ask for input from others. And thank those that speak up. Now, I am not saying that you need to act on every concern or opinion. That would not be realistic. But just listening may be enough. And you never know, someone in your company may have an idea that you never thought about and even improve your business.
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