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The group consists of local business owners and sales people — one company per business category — who meet weekly to network, share business-building ideas and strategies, and provide leads to one another.
From what I have been told, ours is an exceptionally strong AmSpirit chapter, with nearly 30 members and a strong entrepreneurial streak. I’ve more than covered the cost just from the business I’ve gotten from other members and the referrals they give. But that’s not why I’m glad I joined.
I’m glad I joined because these weekly meetings charge my batteries, and as an owner-operator I need that. I need the perspective (and on occasion, criticism) of other business people lest my business become stale or humdrum, a very real problem for owner-operator businesses.
For example, this year, with the help of my AmSpirit peers, I built my core marketing strategy. It’s called “Getaway to Granville & Beyond” and consists of a series of five drawings.
The first four are for getaway weekends at Granville Bed & Breakfasts (all are customers and we are doing a cleaning-for-lodging trade). The last drawing, held during the Chamber of Commerce holiday luncheon, will be for a $3,000 custom vacation. Customers earn entries by having cleaning done (one entry per cleaning) and by providing referrals (two entries per referral).
Because a variety of other local businesses — including several AmSpirit members — are involved (besides the B&Bs, a travel agent, a marketing/communications firm, the local newspaper, and a printing company), the promotion is getting a lot of “buzz” in the community.
As “Granville’s Hometown Carpet Cleaner” the buzz is invaluable. Carpet always needs cleaned and it never needs cleaned. When people think about it and talk about it, that’s when they have it done. Sales and referrals are both up this year. Just what the doctor ordered.
It never would have happened without the inspiration provided by my AmSpirit peers. It’s a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. If you haven’t already done so, you might want to check out the business-networking groups in your community.
John Downey is a fourth-generation carpet cleaner and owner-operator of Downey’s Carpet Care of Granville in Granville, Ohio. When he’s not scrubbin’ rug, his wife, Cecilia, lets him serve on the board of directors of the IICRC and assist Dr. Michael Berry in his efforts to bring science-based environmental management practices to the cleaning industry. John can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.