Hey Garage Door Fans! I’m Chris Wilke with C&W; Canada Garage Doors and welcome back to The Garage. Today, we are in a special location because I’m interviewing a very special lady, Mrs. Pat Stride of BNI Alberta North. Thanks for being here, Pat. Thank you Chris. It’s an honour. Awesome, before we dive into today’s topic, which is referral partners and networking, I was wondering if you would talk a little about BNI Alberta North and what that is exactly? Sure. BNI is really a global organization that’s made up of local business people, and business people just like you, who come together and you meet regularly, getting to build relationships with one another so that they start to build trust, and when it’s appropriate to do so, they start to do business together. So, having a BNI chapter in a community is really an economic stimulus package for our community and we know that BNI members by working together start to do more and more business and then those people that are actually doing more business end up doing more things in the community and they actually start to better the community by the work that they do. So, it’s really a holistic program that helps grow communities. That’s amazing. BNI has done great things for my business. I think you remember me and when I first started out as a young buck. I liked you. Oh good. I fooled you! So, anyway I started out with great garage door knowledge, I’ve been doing this my whole life and my family’s been doing it before that, but business-wise not so much and BNI has totally helped me and crafted my business into a great service in this community, and I can’t thank BNI enough for that. So great to hear that Chris. And I think when small business people gather, you get the benefit of all those different minds and so that you’d have some trades people, you have some health people, there’s some marketing people, and maybe have some accounting people or some legal people, and you get to put all of those different knowledge bases together and that’s what really starts to expand the business. Definitely, and what helps me expand my business are referrals, right? That’s why I’m a very referral-based business. So, Pat since you seem to be an expert in this field, can you tell us what makes a great referral? Oh, most important, trust. When you’re passing a referral to someone, you want to make sure that you’ve got it set up properly. So, you don’t want me just to say "here’s a business card of somebody, I drove by their house, their garage door was awful. You should call them." That’s not a referral. A referral is I can say to you, "Chris was talking my neighbors. They’re talking about, you know, they want to upgrade and I suggested you and I suggested you because of the great work you did for us and I’m feeling very confident that you’ll be able to help them." So when you have that kind of trust in a referral, chances are it’s going to go a lot better. Both people are gonna be happy and that relationship that’s built shines back on the person who gave the referral and so everybody starts to expand and grow through it. Great referrals don’t happen easily, but they happen conscientiously and that’s why people paying attention and listening to the needs of people around them. Really glad you brought that up, because when you give out that referral, you’re not just giving out that that person’s name. You’re giving.. you’re attaching your name to that person as well, so if that.. you have to have utmost confidence in that person that they’re gonna follow through, especially in a small community because you’re not just referring someone off the street. You’re probably gonna refer your your mother or your father or a very close friend - people that you actually care about. And so I’m not going to give them just someone that I met, I’m going to give them someone I know has has that follow-through and that same policy that I would have with my customers, because that’s super important. Well it is, and when I can trust you and I refer you to my neighbor, chances are I’m gonna see my neighbor more often than I’m gonna see you, and I want to be able to see my neighbor and smile and go, "Chris treated you well." They’re gonna say yes and so that’s really what the essence of the referral is. So, BNI has a secret weapon in order to make sure that we have - that we are able to refer people that way and those are called 1-2-1s. Can you explain a little bit to the folks at home what kind of a 1-2-1 is? A 1-2-1 is really an opportunity for you and a fellow member luni to sit down and learn about each other’s businesses, but a good 1-2-1 is strategic and so a lot of people will argue, "well, we went golfing together, we built relationships, that’s a 1-2-1." And while I agree you built relationship, a great 1-2-1 is where we’re sitting down and we’re looking at each other’s plans for the next couple of weeks and I might say, "hey Chris, you’re going over there. I made a resource that can help you. How can I introduce you to that can accelerate that opportunity and you’re gonna be doing this thing for me. So when you’re doing a 1-2-1 you should always go into it with a goal. You should always go into it with information about what project the other person is working on so that you can help and enhance that. I believe great 1-2-1 partners always set the goal and an outcome so there is some follow-up. So, you probably want to have some accountability measures. If we did a great 1-2-1 today and you said you’re working on the XYZ project and I said, "well, I can introduce you to Mr. Q," and we do that, then we want to have an opportunity for us to check back in a week or two later to say "how did that go? What can else can I do? How can you further it? When people do 1-2-1a that way, that’s where business blossoms and so it’s really really important people take the time to get to know one another, understand the kind of business that you do so that we can refer to each other with great confidence. That’s amazing. So, let’s talk a little bit about referral partners for a second. What is a referral partner and how can you find one? And I think we kind of went a little bit into that. Well, we did. Great referral partners aren’t just friends. But friendship matters – you have to like each other, but more importantly they’re people that actually are willing to make a strategic commitment to work together, so I have to believe in you and your product and I have to know that there’s going to be opportunities for me to refer to people that are going to need a garage door or need a consultation and a garage door, and I need to be able to commit to you that I’m actually going to do that. Then you’re going to probably jump in and help train me so I know how to start conversations like that, because I wasn’t more knowing how to talk about garage doors. You weren’t?! No! And I’ve never gone up to someone and said, "hey, do you need a garage door? I’ve got a guy." That doesn’t work, so when you’re strategic partners you actually train each other and how to work together and again, the follow-through is most important. It’s very true. I knew a little bit about HVAC when I first started in BNI and I knew a little bit about plumbing and a little bit about electricians, but I never quite knew what those trades could actually do and what they can bring to the table. Much more than just, you know, putting a light fixture in or fixing your pipes. They can do so much more and I’m now armed with that knowledge and that makes it so much easier to refer those people, because when these weird projects come up, like the other day I was in a house and someone said. "Oh, the reason why this garage door opener isn’t working anymore is because lightning struck the house and we had... yeah, it totally happens. That could happen folks. So, but I was armed with the fact that my my electrician in our chapter, Kevin has a whole new line of surge protectors that can not only just protect one part of the house, but the whole house and I was able to refer him that way and it was organic. It was super easy, it was, she was just telling me what happened and I was like, "oh, I actually know someone who can deal with that, help with that, and that not only gives Kevin business, which is great, but also makes me look super good and super professional because was able not only to solve her immediate problem, but future problems going forward and that’s huge.That’s huge, because when when people call me, I don’t want to just be their garage door guy - which I do! don’t get me wrong - but I want to be their GUY guy, right? And to be able to refer those businesses like that, so that’s how you know you have a good referral partner. That’s such a good story! Thank you. Pat, I know you have a lot of experience being in business. What advice can you give upcoming entrepreneurs such as myself in Edmonton. Stay the path. I think entrepreneurs often fall prey to bright shiny objects, and I might be well on my way to doing this, but something else comes along. "No, that looks like fun" and I head over there, and I see this happen with entrepreneurs all the time. Most entrepreneurs that are successful cannot say that they worked harder, did more, had more brains. It was just simply that they stayed the path and they really stayed focused and kept working on their projects, looking for other areas of synchronicity, areas of strategy, other people, resources that could continue to build that original path. That doesn’t mean that if nothing’s working you shouldn’t change things, but I am saying beware of that bright shiny object syndrome, because it distracts people like crazy. I’m definitely a victim of that. I always think of what’s the next thing I can do but what always drives me back is the fact that this business is the cornerstone, and I have to focus on that. I mean like you said, it’s not like you shouldn’t try new things or anything like that, but remember what your core business is, right? And keep that going forward and grow till it’s so strong it’s almost too strong! Not too many entrepreneurs would say too strong. For the competition, maybe. So that’s a really excellent point. Thank you, Pat. Excellent, well I think that kind of wraps it up for the day. Thank you so much for being a part of this and taking the time to hang out with me in front of your garage, which I happen to be a little biased about. Well you know Chris, we had to install it just about a year ago.. It still looks brand-new. Maybe a little dusty in the fall weather, but we love it and one of our favorite aspects of it is the window, because the windows down the side bring a lot of light into the garage. There’s still security, but it brings a lot of light in and we really really appreciate that factor. What’s awesome is that it’s a perfect blend of both modern and classic design, so you have the classic long panel design across, but you brought that modern flair to it, bringing kind of a life space. Like we always talk about curb appeal on the show. I probably said in every episode, but it’s so important. Curb appeal is important and this really brings out your colors and your flow of your house really well. It’s gorgeous and I’m really glad you went with this door. Thank you. I think we had some advice from an expert. We were well guided. Oh stop. Okay, keep going! Oh, before we go, Pat can you please tell people where they could learn more information about BNI? Oh, sure. As I said, BNI is a global organization but you can find us locally at bnialberta.ca and I think most people, the tab that they would find most interesting is "find a member," because there you will find almost a thousand members that are all vetted just like you. Their fellow members approve of them on an ongoing basis and you can simply type in any search word that you want. So for me, I would type in garage and up would come Chris, and his contact information a little bit about his business. So if you’re looking to have something done, you’re looking for an expert, that’s a great place to find people that are vetted by their peers. Awesome. Thanks Pat, and you know where to find me Garage Door Fans www.cwgarage.ca on Facebook and Instagram @CWcanadagaragedoors, and remember, when your door’s in trouble, you call C&W!