Guaranteed ROI | Building Relationships That Last a Lifetime
In 1962, David Oreck was selling heavy upright vacuum cleaners to hotels all across the United States. During his many business travels, he noticed hotel housekeepers struggling to drag big, heavy vacuum machines all over the hotel property. The drudgery of it was clear as they pulled and pushed their way from one floor to the next. One day, he had a radical idea: What if someone were to design a lightweight, yet powerful, vacuum cleaner to relieve the physical stress of hotel staff all over the world? He approached his employers and tried to convince them to do just that.
As he tells it, he was laughed out of the room and told, “No one would ever buy a lightweight vacuum cleaner.” The Oreck Corporation began as a manufacturer of upright vacuum cleaners for the US hotel industry in 1963. It was a huge success. Bigger than he'd anticipated. Not only did hotels eagerly start buying them, but the hotel staff members themselves started buying these vastly-improved vacuum cleaners for their own use at home. So, David's original idea evolved as the Oreck Corporation began selling its unique products to residential consumers as well. As they say, now you know the rest of the story. Well, not quite.
In 2005, I was dating a woman who sold her candle company to none other than Mr. David Oreck himself. One weekend shortly after the purchase of the candle company, she and I were invited to spend a day on David’s private ranch. The property is breathtaking, with longhorns grazing along the side of his personal runway and an airplane hangar that houses over fifteen restored vintage aircrafts. During the early part of the day, we took turns flying with him in various aircraft around Louisiana and Mississippi. Once the keys to the various planes were locked away, Mr. Oreck proceeded to break out the scotch. That afternoon, he introduced me to fine whiskey and began to ask about my business. I explained to him that we were operating in thirty-seven states and two providences in Canada and that we were in the business of putting our hands into your pockets and legally extracting as much cash as possible.
I remember his response like it was yesterday. “Oh, you are in marketing? What type of business do you think I own?”
I immediately responded, “The vacuum cleaner business, of course!”
“No, not even close.” he replied.
I followed up with the marketing answerer I thought he was looking for. “You are in the business of extracting dusts from people’s floors.” I really thought I had him there.
But again, he quickly retorted, “Nope.”
I thought a moment. “Well, you now own a candle business.”
I was clueless, but the scotch was still being poured, and it didn’t look like he was going to run out any time soon, so I was happy to let him win. He went on to share stories of risk and reward and the story of his personal journey to success. He told me how, when he was in his fifties, he ventured away from the big corporate job to offer the vacuum cleaners that his boss said no one would buy. As he spoke, I was thinking about how it must have taken real courage to leave a cushy corporate gig like that—and I was glad he did.
Otherwise, I'm not sure I would have just enjoyed the literal ride of my life on his planes, and the scotch may not have been quite as smooth.
However, I still did not know the correct answer to his question. I suspected it was hidden somewhere in his stories, but it continued to evade me. As we got ready to leave that day, I had to ask.
"Mr. Oreck, you never told me what business you are in. What is it?”
He smiled and clapped me on the shoulder. "Scott, I am in the 100 percent money-back guarantee business! Every Oreck vacuum cleaner comes with a 30-day, no-risk guarantee." He beamed with pride. "If you can ever figure out how to offer a money-back guarantee on your marketing, you, too, will own your own airplanes.”
A World of Risk
Entrepreneurs are known for taking risks, their out-of-the-box innovations, and their “if I build it, they will come” mentality. These are real aspects of being in the business of growing businesses, but all of these attributes also come with a ton of risks. What if your risks don’t pan out? What if your innovation is a flop? What if you build it and they don’t come? The “what if” questions seem to follow business owners everywhere they turn. This is equally true for your business marketing investments. As soon as you write that check or plop down that credit card, you have assumed all the risk.
In the old days, when it came to marketing, the guy who could afford the largest Yellow Page ad won. It's no wonder why the yellow book companies spent millions of dollars on sales training every year. I would argue that if closing hard is what made one a good sales person, the Yellow Page reps where the best ever. Unfortunately, however, being a good sales person didn't mean you were a good salesperson. Promises were made that were never kept. Money poured from your bank account as you paid the price of delayed books, the wrong placement of permanent ads, or horrible art and graphics. What was done was done. There was no way to reverse it, and you were in a contract that required you to continue to pay—sometimes thousands of dollars per month.
The next year, after you were promised a credit, the reps would come back to you and convince you that all of those problems could be solved and avoided by a bigger budget—"If you just invest more with me this year, you'll be taken care of." The phone would ring off the wall, and business owners would bite like a big mouth bass.
For the next six to ten months, you were paying those increased prices while people were still using their old yellow books with tattered corners and hand-written notes throughout. What was the point?
The third year, the reps would show up and convince you that the book took time to work and your competitors were not backing off. In fact, they were now in more sections with bigger ads and, oh yeah, didn’t you want the three regional Yellow Page books now being offered in the outlying areas, or did you want your competitor down the street to get all that business?
At the end of the day, you were taking all the risks—and they were not very calculated risks at that. It was really more like legal grand larceny. Even though the yellow books are a thing of the past, these practices still run rampant throughout the marketplace. Today, there are so many different avenues where you can spend (and lose) your marketing and advertising budget. It is said that the average business owner receives six to eight phone calls every week from marketing reps. You can spend hundreds to thousands of dollars per month on SEO campaigns, Facebook advertising, traveling to networking events, paying for listings in business directories, Google AdWords, lead generation, contextual marketing, and on and on. There are hordes of people and services, all lined up to vie for your cherished marketing budget. Many of these are new ideas that you may not be familiar with, and you’re nervous to spend money on an unproven system.
On the other hand, some of them may be getting your ad dollars because you are familiar with them, but they don’t give you the return on your investment you’re looking for. However, you continue to invest because the familiarity feels safe to you. You are buying predictability. I recently asked a family restaurant owner in the suburbs why he advertises weekly in a music publication geared towards cult music. He said, "I started in that publication twelve years ago. I don’t think we get any business from there, but I am scared to change."
The truth is that it would be nice if you could take some of the risk out of where you put your time, resources, and energy so that you can save your risk-taking for another day. It would be a welcome change to be able to cut out the trial and error with your marketing dollars. It’s tiring to have to always first plant your money to see what it grows—if it grows at all. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a guarantee before you spent your first ad dollar? Wouldn’t you like to be certain that your investment would come back to you, and then some?
The NIA Guarantee
After thinking about Mr. Oreck’s challenge for over fifteen years, I was finally able to come up with a way to offer a guarantee in marketing, which is now a reality for every NIA® member. At NIA®, the franchise owners sign off on the risk you used to take. Before you sign your NIA® application, you and your group leader discuss and come to an agreement on what your positive ROI must be, based on shared expectations. It is always based on what the two of you both agree on. The amount can vary by industry, but in most cases, we try and get to a ten-time return on your investment. Imagine heading to a casino and plopping down fifteen hundred dollars on a poker game and being guaranteed a payday of fifteen thousand dollars! Not too many people would turn that opportunity down.
Once you come to an agreement on what your ROI should be, you then receive a written guarantee that you will get that back over the course of your one-year membership. We make certain that each party has reasonable expectations and then, together, we set out to deliver on those expectations. As part of a partnership, your job is to show up and refer. Our job is to build a dynamic group that makes it easy for you to do so.
I spent almost three decades working with business owners, helping them make the best investments possible with their marketing budgets. I still am. At NIA®, we enjoy giving you a guaranteed ROI on your investment. If we miss, your second year is free. This is not an empty promise. It has been tried and tested with hundreds of members—many of whom are in your exact industry. Out of the hundreds of members who have enrolled, we have had to offer the second year free to only four members to date.
We can confidently offer this guarantee because we know our model works and our leaders are qualified to show you exactly how to get the ROI you’re looking for. When it comes to your membership, we don’t just set it and forget it. Your leader takes an active role in ensuring your success. Whether your leader is scouting out the talent and the clients you’re looking for or sitting down with you for a private one-to-one, your leader has been trained on exactly how to help you move the needle.
From Moose Rosenfeld: A Franchise Owner
One of the things that attracted me to Network In Action as a franchise model was their ROI guarantee on the annual investment. Coming from the radio and Internet marketing industries, I was never able to offer that. It really seemed impossible to make an offer like that, but the reality is that it works quite well. I operate two groups and have only had one member who, after twelve months, did not hit our agreed upon goal.
It works because the members’ attendance stays up because of their desire to keep the guarantee in place, which has a positive effect on everything we are trying to achieve, both as a group and as individuals. We are each committed to our success as individuals and to the success of the collective group. In addition, I can use our software to track the activity of each member. That means I can head off a problem before it happens. If Bob isn’t bringing in or getting referrals, I know well before the end of the year that I need to sit down with him and do some coaching or some cheerleading—whatever it takes to help him reach his goals.
This is the thing I like the most as a franchisee. The guaranteed ROI helps create a relationship between my member and me. We both enter into a marketing relationship as partners focused on achieving our goals collectively. It is a win-win for both of us!
It Works for Every Industry – Not Every Individual
Networking works for every industry, but not every individual. This means that networking has the power to transform your business endeavors, but only as far as you, the individual, will allow it to. We had a guy, a business coach, who had been in our organization for two years and didn’t feel like he was getting any value from his membership. I asked him why he didn’t feel like he’d gotten more out of his relationship with NIA® because I could look around at other people in his exact industry in other NIA® groups who were getting tremendous benefits. It’s clearly not a question of his industry. It is often the individual who is the problem. He casually admitted, “You know, I didn’t do a good job reaching out to other people and building relationships.” He admitted that he hadn’t done a good job getting to know the other members, hadn’t taken the time to reach out and help people, and hadn’t been passing referrals. These facts scream why he wasn’t receiving the benefits. The reality is that if you do a good job passing referrals and taking care of others, they are going to go out of their ways to figure out how they can reciprocate.
At NIA®, we work to help you transform the way you’re currently networking so that it feels comfortable and will naturally lead to you achieving your stated goals. The bottom line is that if you are keeping your end of the bargain by coming to meetings and passing referrals, you are going to earn a positive return on your investment. Guaranteed! If you find that your networking efforts are not paying dividends, then there are likely two things you need to do:
1. Make sure you’re giving. Are you showing up with the intention to give? Or are you expecting to sit back and collect referrals overnight without the investment required to build a relationship? At NIA®, we strategically aim to create a culture of giving and reciprocity. We will discuss those ideals in later chapters, but the point is that you need to show up. Don’t just come in body. Walk through those doors with your head and heart in the game of giving, and it will be returned to you.
Gary Cooper, a CPA in my area, came to his first meeting, missed his second, and then after his third meeting, told me, "NIA® is not going to work." Now, this was a guy who had moved to Houston and would readily offer the details on how he built his CPA practice by starting his own networking group! In fact, he still offers a free networking event once a month called Band Jam where music-loving business owners gather at his office to drink, eat, sing, and network for free.
I explained to Gary in great detail that it was impossible to build trust in just one meeting, and it is even more difficult when you skip meetings, which shows that you’re placing your own priorities over those of the group. After some reluctance, he agreed to stay in the group. Within a year, he had received over twenty referrals and several thousand dollars in new accounts. Soon after, he put two additional CPAs in other NIA® groups around the city and bought an NIA® franchise for his son to operate. Now, that is what I call a success story!
2. Wait for the outcome to catch up with your effort. If you are showing up to the meetings and you are giving—if you’re doing everything your leader has coached you to do—then it is just a matter of time before your efforts pay off. You have to trust the process and know that the outcome has already been determined by your actions.
My wife, Moriah, had a slow start to her success with NIA®, but what she didn’t realize was that while she was waiting, the effects of her passing referrals to others were about to have a dramatic impact on her real estate business. She says:
When I first started attending NIA® meetings as the residential realtor in the group, I was discouraged because I wasn’t getting any referrals. I started to wonder if I was being intentionally left out because I’m married to Scott. I talked to him about my concerns, and he told me to just keep going and taking care of people, and eventually I would be taken care of, too.
I took his advice and kept going, and I made a positive effort to give. Within about two weeks, the office supply guy in our group, Darren Barr, called and said, “I’d like to bring my next-door neighbor to your house. He’s from El Salvador. He speaks English, but his native language is Spanish, and I know you are fluent.” At the time, I thought he was just setting up a friendly chat.
So, I met with his neighbor, and the short version of the story is that he had a connection with a lady in Costa Rica who had a $400 million concrete quarry for sale that he needed help marketing in America. I ended up with a partial listing on this property that will bring in over $2.5 million in commissions when the property sells! Additionally, two other members of that same group have listed properties with me that will bring in about $17,000 in commissions.
Even though my wife, who was the inspiration behind NIA®, didn’t get any referrals during her first seven months, she continued to go and give from her heart without worrying about what she was getting back. She did everything she was coached to do and stayed positive. As a result, she is now sitting on a life-changing opportunity because of a relationship she built with one member of the group—a member who had nothing to do with real estate or the concrete quarry. To this day, he has never personally given my wife a direct business referral for a real estate transaction. But he is the one who connected my wife with one of the largest real estate transactions going on in Costa Rica right now.
This is the true magic of networking. I often hear people say that they are not sure about the members in a particular group, which tells me they are completely missing the point. The real value lies in who those members know through church, school, Facebook, or LinkedIn connections. Even though you can’t be certain about the timing of your ROI or exactly how it will look when it happens, when you follow the NIA® model, you can be certain that it will happen—or your next year is on us!
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