NIA Franchise Co-owners of five groups located on the far-west side of Houston, Texas, serving in the Katy, Fulshear, Memorial, and Towne Lake (Cypress) areas. They love helping businesses grow through networking, building relationships that last a lifetime, and entrepreneurial education. Helen was one of the first four founding members of NIA.

Helen, you got to experience Network In Action firsthand as a member before you decided to purchase your franchise. Why did you decide to jump in and buy a franchise?

Helen: It was only because of Oscar. Every single month at our meetings, you, Scott, would say to me, “You are either gonna run for the mayor of Katy or you’re gonna buy an NIA franchise.” And I would say no because I didn’t want more time away from my husband and our children. We were getting ready to be empty nesters with them going off to college, and I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. But one month, I brought Oscar with me to the meeting and he heard you say your usual line to me. I was about to give you my usual response, but Oscar said, “Send me the docs; let’s look at it.” So, you sent over the paperwork. Oscar looked at it and said, “Helen, why aren’t we doing this? This is exactly your rock star thing.”

Oscar: Yeah, once I saw the model, I just jumped in with both feet. I knew it was something she’d already been doing for a long, long time. Connecting people and networking is what she does naturally, and she really is a rock star at it. So, I just said, “Let me come along for the ride, and we’ll go for it.”

Tell us a little bit about your why.

Helen: Our why really is that we get the pleasure of working together and bringing our expertise, which is a little bit different, to our members. Every franchise owner out there has their different special techniques and background that they bring to the table. We just bring something a little different. My background is all sales, marketing, and business development. Oscar is an attorney practicing business law, commercial litigation, real estate law, and entertainment law. So, our members really get the best of the best with us—and then some. We are constantly thinking of ways that we can help them grow and drive business to them. We’re doing everything we can to focus on that, above and beyond our franchise agreement responsibilities.

Of the six differences we promote in NIA, which ones do you think make the biggest difference to a business owner versus what they find in traditional networking?

Helen: I can’t pick just one or two. All six of those differences made a huge difference to me as a member. When I first got involved with Network In Action as one of the founding members almost nine years ago, it was still in development. But I could already see that it was brilliant. I know the best way to grow a business is through networking and building relationships. Network In Action took away all the pains that I was feeling in the other networking organizations that I was in. I had been involved with BNI for a very long time and know that organization intimately.

The thing that bothered me the most about BNI was that it was run by volunteers. I never even met the owner of our chapter until I was in it for over two years. The members in my chapter became my friends, yes, and I did give and receive referrals. However, they didn’t have a vested interest in the members’ success other than the pride of having a good, strong group for the year that they were in “leadership” running the chapter. I’m still friends with a lot of those people, and I still think they’re a great organization—they just don’t have what we have with our technology and other great business solutions included in our memberships.

Those six differences are our key. For instance, the fact that we only meet once a month; for our groups, we actually do a little extra and offer a lot of other things for our members, but having only one required meeting a month is amazing.

I like that we vet everybody before we even invite them to apply for membership. We interview every potential member and do a background check. We don’t invite everybody we interview to join; not everyone is a good fit. I know that’s one thing our members like because they know if we have a new member in our group, we have vetted them, so they can refer them with confidence from the very beginning. I got stung personally, as a member of the other networking group, with someone who was less than stellar, so I know firsthand how important this is.

The icing on the cake and the cherry on top is the ROR—or return on relationships—that we offer with NIA. We guarantee a return on the investment of their membership. That type of guarantee, no other network offers!

One of those six differences is that every Network In Action group is required to do something charitable and give back to their communities once a year. What do those charitable endeavors look like for your groups?

Helen: We ask for nominations from our members and then narrow it down to three charities. Then we have each of those three charities present to all of our groups. The following month, the members vote on which charity they want to get behind. Every time, it’s been unanimous; and every time, it’s something a little bit different than before.

Because of our entertainment resources, the group often chooses to host an event to get the charity’s name out and raise awareness and money for that organization. Our very first charity we chose was Sunshine Through the Rain, which is a charity that helps support children who have lost one or both parents to death. That was founded by Joanne Rodriguez, who lost her sister, and her sister had left four children. She wanted to do something for her nieces and nephews. She knew they weren’t the only children who are without their parents.

That charity gets children together with other children who have felt that same hurt of losing a parent. It’s hard for those children to go back to school after the funeral and the other kids don’t know how to talk to them. It’s just a different experience. Having experienced losing my mother when I was twenty, I can’t imagine how it would be if I was ten, what I would have gone through. So, we got behind that charity, and we helped wrap gifts in the mall for two weeks leading up to Christmas. As a matter of fact, they still let us know when they need help and we still try to send volunteers to help. Members of ours have volunteered, donated money—everything.

I also love that we are allowed to gift a membership to a charity. We have charities in each of our groups, but then we have a charity of the year that is voted on by the members. Our charity members dig in, and they’re amazing. They come to the meetings, they get to know the members, and honestly, I think they get more out of their memberships than anybody. They know the value of building relationships and the fact that it’s not just the members and their reach and what they can do but it’s the companies that the other members know, the vendors that they have, and all of the friends and family members of those people. It’s like casting your net one thousand times wider than you’d ever dream as a charity.

Why is networking important to a business owner?

Helen: Everything I’ve ever done is about networking and building relationships. I’ve been in sales, marketing, and business development my whole life. Networking is about building those relationships, and the best part about building relationships is growing somebody else. If you grow somebody else, it’s going to come back to you tenfold. I have always done that. In whatever I sold, whatever business I was representing, I would sell from the other side of the desk.

I was in advertising for years, helping clients come up with campaigns for their business growth. I always said, “I don’t care if you take away my commission. It’s not about my commission. It’s really about your business and how it can grow.” My attitude was: What are we going to do; how are we going to make this happen? That’s the mentality that I’ve always had. Networking has just helped me be able to do that even more.

Tell me about one of your NIA members’ success stories.

Oscar: There are so many. It runs the gamut from members who have joined and within the first month made seventeen times their ROI, to something like this: We had a husband and wife who were members of one of our groups, and the husband got tongue cancer. All they had was some really mediocre, really crappy health insurance. They were in desperate shape at that point, and they went to one of our other members who sold health insurance. In their own words, that other member was able to turn them on to a Cadillac plan that covered pretty much everything when they went to the hospital. That made a big difference in them being able to deal with all that.

Helen: Yes, we’ve had several like that. Like Oscar said, we have members who have gotten ten to twenty times their ROI in a very short period of time. We had one member who got his ROI before he even came to his first meeting as a member. He had come to a meeting as a guest and signed up right away, and he made some connections during his guest-visit that paid for his whole membership plus some. He’s not the only one; there are so many more of those stories. We had a brand-new member who just signed up a couple months ago who is already singing our praises because of the ROI that she’s gotten.

But again, it’s not about the ROI. It’s about the relationships and the camaraderie that happens within our group, whether it’s collaborating to market together or to do events together. These things are happening every day in our groups, and I love that.

What would you say about the Network In Action franchise opportunity to someone who is looking at getting into a franchise business in general?

Oscar: I’d tell them, “Just do it.” When you look at all these other franchises, this one is so easy and it’s so lucrative. The plan that Network In Action has laid out is just so simple. When we first bought into it, I wasn’t looking to get in any franchises, but I would come across other franchises just in my daily life and I would analyze them. For instance, we’d go sit at a Freddy’s Hamburgers, or whatever, and I would look at their model and think about how they had to buy or lease a physical building and make it all look exactly like all the other franchises and everything had to be done exactly like all the other franchises. Comparatively, the cost of entry into this franchise opportunity is very low, and you have a specific model to follow but it comes with a lot of room for us to bring in the unique things we have to offer, too.

On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your financial future with your Network In Action franchise?

Helen: Ten, absolutely.

Oscar: I say ten. I would tell anybody who’s interested in buying a franchise, especially if they’ve got other businesses, that there is no better way to promote your business than to get paid for doing networking. Our networking group fits in with everything we do, and it helps us promote my law practice, helps us promote our entertainment business, helps us promote our title business, and it’s not taking that much more away from us than if we were doing networking anyway. It’s a no-brainer. We are getting paid to grow our businesses.

On a scale of one to ten, how much control do you have over your schedule with your Network In Action franchise?

Oscar: Absolutely a ten.

Helen: Definitely a ten. We still run several other businesses. This is just our number-one business venture at the top of the triangle. Everything we do comes back to NIA and works in conjunction with what we do here. It helps grow all of our other businesses. With our franchise, the marketing for those other businesses isn’t really a job or a chore—it’s done for us.

How has owning your franchise affected your personal lives?

Helen: In November, we always do our gratitude meeting where we ask everybody in the group to share what they’re most grateful for. What we’re most grateful for, really, is this business and our members and what they bring to us—the successes that they have. I mean, we’re like proud parents. Our members love what we’re doing, and that makes it even easier.

Even our adult children have taken part in this endeavor and learned and grown from it. The hardest thing for a parent is to teach your kiddo because they won’t listen—especially teenagers. But what our children have learned, and shared with us that what they’ve learned, from this venture and our members has been amazing. Now they are adults and entrepreneurs themselves. We raised them to be entrepreneurs, and being a part of our businesses has given them the foundation to grow their own businesses. So, now, having them be a part of NIA and seeing their growth has really been so valuable to us and them. It’s amazing!

Oscar: I’ve got to answer that question from an attorney’s perspective. As we all know, the practice of law is very stressful. It’s something that can keep you up at night. I’ve had a very successful law practice, but you still go to bed at night thinking about all your cases and everything you have to do and the deadlines and all that sort of stuff. From that perspective, I have to say, this business is so great because I can put my head down at night in peace. When I lie down at night, I know that everything’s cool, everything’s good, everything’s positive, and everything’s moving in a forward direction. I don’t have to constantly think about all those other things.

I’m actually retiring from my litigation practice because I’ve decided that I really want to focus more of my efforts on Network In Action and less on being a slave to the docket of the court. Litigation’s very taxing that way. I’m still going to practice law—I’m going to do contracts and that sort of thing—but I’m retiring from litigation so I can put more attention into this. What I love about this business is that I get to use my expertise to help people on the front end and help them avoid litigation instead of getting paid on the back end.

If you could go back and start your NIA franchise over again, what would you do differently?

Helen: I would have done it sooner. It took me almost three years to say yes, and that was just silly.

Founder of Central Texas NIA, Charles is NIA’s first area developer and largest franchise owner, owning six separate NIA franchises and running a total of eighteen groups. His passion is helping business owners scale and grow their business.

How did you find Network In Action?

I was a BNI director in addition to managing my full-time job, and you came across my profile on LinkedIn and gave me a call. We had a couple conversations, and that planted a seed in my mind that continued to germinate, whether it was from myself watering it or you watering it as well. But it made me ask myself whether or not I saw a value in the number of hours I was spending and what was I getting out of where I was. What I realized over a short period of time was that, no, there wasn’t that value there—especially when I was driving a lot and especially since I was coming from more of a B2B versus a B2C venue. Other networking opportunities out there really focus on the B2C, and I needed more of that B2B. I also wanted to bring value to people, which I didn’t feel like I was doing. And if I could monetize that value that I was bringing, that would be even better. The BNI director position brought in a small check—it’s mostly a volunteer position—but between tolls and gas, I was just about breaking even.

I finally scheduled a time to meet up with you in person. During our dinner, my phone was going crazy with notifications. At one point, you looked at me and said, “Charles, do you really think you have time to do this with your full-time job? It looks like it’s keeping you pretty busy.”

I said, “Scott, these aren’t calls for work. This is drama from BNI that I’m having to deal with.” There was quite a bit of drama on that side, and I just don’t have time for that. I mean, most people don’t, and they’ll say that but they still foster the drama. Not me. My attitude is: Hey, resolve this; if I need to get involved, it’s not going to be pretty for anybody.

It was during that meeting with you when I decided I needed to make a move.

What motivated you to purchase the NIA franchise?

My motivation was two-fold: First, I really thought there was a lot more that could have been done at BNI that wasn’t being done. One of the things that really didn’t sit well with me was that the whole BNI meeting is not about the BNI members—it’s about the visitors’ experience. This is something that is preached from the top down. I looked at that and thought, They’re getting a free ride, but we’re the ones paying membership dues, we’re the ones who have to pay to get trained every six months, and we’re the ones who have to deal with leadership changes. We’re putting all the effort into it, but there’s no value in the meetings for us.

But honestly, after a while, if you’ve been to enough meetings, you kind of lose focus of that and start to buy into it just because that seems to be the only thing out there being offered. There’s no doubt networking is a necessity, so you just do it. I ended up being the president of two different BNI chapters, and I would lose that focus even as the one running the meeting. But I knew there was more value to be had that wasn’t being capitalized on.

Second, I also thought it didn’t seem fair that BNI would carve up the pie so many different ways to get as many seats in there as possible. One example of this that always set poorly with me was when we brought in an insurance person whose only service was selling life insurance. But we already had a financial advisor in the group who also sold life insurance, we already had a property and casualty person who sold life insurance as part of his services, we had a health person who also offered life insurance—and all of those individuals had been in the group for a while and already had established relationships with the rest of the members. So, I knew that new life insurance person wasn’t going to have any success because everyone in the group had already dealt with these other members who offered life insurance as an add-on to their other services. I didn’t like that.

I knew that there were so many different opportunities that could be capitalized on to help business owners scale their businesses and be more successful and mastermind with each other. I think you lose some of that masterminding opportunity in other networking organizations, where we really focus on it. I think that’s one of the reasons we have so many BNI members coming over to us. In fact, there was recently a BNI group where they were all just kind of done with the BNI model, and about 80 percent of the members converted over to one of our Network In Action groups. So, those things all together really kind of drove it for me.

How has being an NIA franchise owner complemented what you’re doing for full-time employment?

NIA is my primary focus, but I do also have a specialty tax consulting business. I work with business owners, and as such, NIA provides plenty of opportunity for me to assist others. However, with my NIA members, I focus on them and don’t view them as a means of garnering referrals for myself.

How many NIA franchises do you own?

We bought an entire area-agreement for Network In Action. Our first group launched in 2020, two months before COVID, and our second group launched the week before everything went into lockdown. We’ve purchased a total of eighteen groups; thirteen are up and running, and two are in the launch-and-learning phase.

How do you manage so many different groups at one time?

When I see problems out there, I know that there are always solutions. I believe there’s opportunity in chaos. I brought on a partner in that vein, because I knew he could definitely help with some of the chaos of starting and growing and making this a primary focus—while also working full-time and having a family, like me. People only have so much bandwidth, so bringing on a partner was very important for the success of our chapters. I knew I could run the meetings and handle some of the administrative stuff, but if I could bring in somebody who could focus on the recruiting, that would amplify our numbers. I brought on a partner, Justin Kessel, to do this with me; he worked with me at BNI. I was right—bringing Justin on definitely did amplify our numbers. Even through COVID, we were still growing. We launched and grew an entire group during the pandemic. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and one of his best strengths is in the recruiting side. He was always number one in the Central Texas BNI groups for bringing in the most visitors.

We really gleaned a lot of our experiences from BNI and some other networking organizations that were located out here in the Greater Austin area. We recognized that if we want to run all these groups, we can’t run them all ourselves because we’d get pulled too many different ways. It’s tough to recruit for eighteen different groups and run eighteen different groups in a month. There are only so many days in a week, too, so if you’re holding a meeting that has to be on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday and your primary time is that happy hour time, you’ve only got sixteen groups you can conceivably run in a month.

We were struggling with that and realized we needed help. So, just as BNI has directors and presidents who run the chapters, we realized we needed to do something like that as well—except we were actually going to pay these people and call them Group Leads.

We ran the numbers, and we put together a very nice compensation structure for our Group Leads. They run the groups and are responsible for helping to grow their groups. We incentivize them to recruit and bring in visitors—which we do for all of our members. I mean, they’re doing the hard work of bringing the people in, so if we add their guests into the system and we’re making money on a new membership, we want to share that. This way, we don’t have to do all the recruiting ourselves. All of this helps us make a much bigger footprint here.

How do you recruit enough members to fill eighteen groups?

Our initial vision was to buy our first franchise, grow three groups, continue to grow, and then pretty much own the whole Central Texas area. We’ve done that. But we don’t have enough time to cold call to build thirteen to eighteen groups. There just are not enough hours in the day. We figured we really need to be as efficient as possible. I love efficiencies.

So, we started hosting these networking events and called them Lunch and Learns. We post them on Eventbrite, Meet-Up, and Facebook. We invite people that we’ve met from other networking opportunities, such as Chamber events and things like that. During the lunch, we do a presentation that includes an introduction to Network In Action and then share the NIA PowerPoint. Then we hand out the member applications for NIA right then and there. (That’s the biggest thing—taking the assumptive approach that everyone’s going to sign up.) We pass out the applications and tell them, “Hey, you better get your spot right now. There’s only one per category.” If we’re building out a new group, we advertise the fact that they’ll be a founding member of that group—one of the first twelve members necessary for the group to launch—and we give some incentives for that.

In the beginning, we really pitched that hard, and that really worked quite well. We would get three to four new members with every Lunch and Learn, and we highly encouraged those founding members to come to them because they would have the opportunity to network with these new people from lunch to lunch. There was no cost to them yet, since the group was still being built out, and we would encourage them to bring their own visitors and guests, too, so we could launch their group quickly and make the magic happen. We weren’t the only ones doing the hard work. We had our founding members doing the hard work, too. It was during that time, in the beginning, when we actually came up with the idea of incentivizing these people. The old adage my father taught me a long time ago is: People do what you pay them to do. So, Justin and I knew that if we’re making a certain amount of money on a member, we could give some of it away and still make a profit without having to work as hard to get any of it. So that’s what we did.

When we started, we paid $100 per membership to incentivize our members to help with the recruiting. Then we upped that to $200 when the membership fees went up. It made sense to us to do that because we were making more money per member. It was still one heck of an ROI. I was still making many times what I was paying out; I’ll do that all day long.

Once we had a couple groups up and going, we would encourage our members from those other groups to come over. We’d say, “All we want you to do is give a testimonial and to talk to people afterwards if they have some questions.” We just offered to cover their first drink, and that was worth it to them because they knew they’d have the opportunity to network with these other people as well, even before the new group launched.

All of that really helped with our Lunch and Learns. It made it a lot more efficient and a lot easier for us.

How did the pandemic affect the way you managed and filled your groups?

We launched our first groups during COVID. NIA was already positioned in case something like that ever happened; you were way ahead of the curve. Because of the technology that Network In Action had in place, we pivoted very quickly, and we were on Zoom immediately. That allowed us to even grow our groups during that period of time, which shocked me. We grew and launched a group during COVID. We wanted to make sure we were staying engaged with our members, so we set up a weekly coffee conversation, and we’re still doing it every Tuesday morning at 8:30 AM Central Standard Time. These coffee conversations give us an opportunity to talk about something of value. Initially, my partner and I would pick a topic for the group to discuss. Then we thought it would be a good idea to let our members talk about some of the things that they know about. That brings extra value, and it also puts the spotlight on our individual members. We just had an individual talk last week named Dagon who did a great job. He sells supplemental health insurance, but his topic for the conversation was networking because he’s big and involved in networking. We had about twenty-three people log on, just to hear him talk about that.

Many of the people who attend are members, but we also have a lot of visitors and guests. We have our coffee conversations advertised on Eventbrite, Meet-Up, our social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and everything like that. Anyone who wants to can log on—whether they’re a member or not. We’ve had people from Pakistan, Albania, China—literally from across the world—logging into these coffee conversations. It’s great.

If they’re local, we invite them to our monthly meeting; if they’re not local, we try and plug them into a meeting with an NIA franchise owner out in their area. We’ve done that a couple of times, especially in the Seattle area. Our members who have joined as a result of these coffee conversations actually tend to be some of our better members. I don’t know why, but those are the members who get the most out of what we’re doing. It seems like they’re engaged right from the beginning.

How much freedom do you and your NIA business partner have to make decisions within the Network In Action franchise model?

NIA has given us a lot of leeway to experiment with some of the different strategies out there, which is the most important thing to us. I don’t know if what we do would work for everybody, because sometimes we’ve failed as much as we’ve succeeded in areas. But we knew we’d like to bring in additional value.

We’ve got the key tenants that NIA provides—everything from our technology, the guaranteed ROI, being involved in a charity every quarter and giving back—we stick to all those. But we also wanted to know what else we could do that was going to bring value. So, we brought in some additional things that we thought would benefit our members and help with that conversion, too.

One of the additional things we brought in is our social media day. One day a month, we rent out a sound-proof space with a big green screen room and set up a really high-end camera that shoots and records a commercial-grade video. Everything is TV quality. We have our members shoot their own thirty to forty-five second commercials that they can use for their social media marketing campaigns. We do all the editing for them, and we also feature the videos on our YouTube channel. This is an exclusive offer to our members and has a huge value to them. If they went out there and priced it out themselves to shoot that same video, it would cost them $1,000 to $3,000, and that’s if they don’t have any help with editing or anything else.

That’s just one of the value-adds we brought on board with us.

We also do some social events between our groups so that they can all come together. That’s something really unique in the networking space—if you’re looking at BNI, for example—because we encourage our members to attend the other groups. The reason for that is because then our members have a much larger community; they get much, much more value out of that. We do this because we come from a place of abundance, not scarcity. We know that people are going to enjoy working with other people. If you give them the opportunity to develop those relationships, then they’re going to have a lot more success.

Those are probably two of the bigger things that we’ve done that are not one of the key tenants of NIA but which we’ve had the freedom to do, and it’s really benefited us as owners of multiple franchises.

Which of your members’ success stories stand out to you?

We’ve had a lot of great stories, but I will share two. The first story is about a gentleman named Cyril Allgeier. He’s actually a really good friend of mine; he was even at the surprise birthday dinner party that was thrown for me this year. He joined our second group that we launched right before COVID. All the boxes were checked—he had three-plus years of experience in his industry, he was a decision maker and a high-ranking manager—but I was on the fence about letting him be a member. My concern was what he did. He worked for a company that did high-end SEO, websites, and web application development. His low-end package was between $25,000 and $30,000. I knew it was going to be tough to guarantee that ROI. I didn’t know if he was going get any value out of his membership. But he wasn’t worried; he said, “Just give me the opportunity. I know I can be successful with this.” So, I did.

He came into our group and continued his membership with BNI at the same time. But towards the end of his first year with us, BNI was making a push, saying their members can’t be a member of multiple networking groups; he had to pick one or the other. He left BNI completely. He told me it was an easy decision because NIA accounted for 20 percent of the overall business of his company here in the Greater Austin area. I asked him what that number looks like. He said, “North of $200,000.”

I said, “Wow, we met the guaranteed ROI.”

He said, “Oh, yeah; you blew it away.” Then he added, “Remember: It’s not just the members in the groups; it’s who they know and who they can refer you to.”

After that, I tell everybody, “If you can’t be successful here with what you do, it’s on you; it’s not on us. Because if he can be successful with it, you can, too.” And he really did it. He got engaged, he did his one-to-ones, he went to the group meetings, he went to other group meetings, he brought value, he wasn’t trying to sell people, and he was a great resource for individuals. From there, he became very easily referrable. I would say that is probably one of the best stories I’ve experienced personally.

My second story is about one of our Group Leads, Mandy Botts. She runs two strong groups for us, and she is phenomenal and has a great personality. When she first joined, she was with Keller Williams and she was already a top real estate agent in the area. She’d never had any kind of online review system—nothing—so we set her up with Repman, an online system for realtors. Then we told her to send out a link to some of her clients and have them write her a review. She sent it out to maybe ten people, and she immediately received five five-star reviews. The next month, she got a call from a woman who wanted to hire her to be the real estate agent to sell her home. Mandy asked who referred her so she could send a thank you gift, and the woman said, “Oh, no one referred me. I found you online. I looked around, and you are the only real estate agent in my area that has five-star reviews. So, I want to choose you.”

That home was originally listed for $600,000 and actually ended up selling for $720,000. Mandy got the commission on that as a result of her relationships here in Network In Action. Some people don’t think about those kinds of benefits; they only think about the referrals just from other members. Sometimes it’s multigenerational referrals—it’s referrals of referrals of referrals that you’re getting business and reputation management from. Mandy’s deal came from an online review—and that was the direct result of the value that NIA brings.

On a scale of one to ten, how much would you say you’re able to influence your income and the amount of money you’re bringing into your organization?

I would say that number would probably be about an eight-and-a-half to nine. It would be a ten if I could find the perfect formula to find the perfect people all the time, but no one has that. You’re always going to have those people who are either just the wrong member or the wrong Group Lead. That’s just going to happen sometimes. But just because it happens doesn’t deter us from doing it again. I put in a lot of hard work and effort, and we have other people who are putting in a lot of hard work and effort.

On a scale of one to ten, how much personal value do you get out of what you’re getting back from owning your franchise?

I’ll put it this way: I had a member who left one of our groups—completely left. We both agreed that he wasn’t the right fit for NIA. He’d put in the effort—he did his year, he did his time, all that stuff. He didn’t commit to all the one-to-ones, but by then, he already knew this wasn’t a good fit for him. However, he did see value in what we were doing, so he stayed for the year and enjoyed the meetings. When he left, we left on good terms, but I hated to see him go. I just kept wondering if there was anything I could have done differently that would have made him successful. I wanted to know it wasn’t me that had failed him.

After he left, I got a card in the mail—an actual handwritten card. The card basically said, Hey, I want to let you know that you did everything you could have. I loved everything you did. I think you guys are great. You provide so much value, and I have nothing but great things to say about Network In Action. I’m actually referring somebody to the group right now. It just wasn’t a good fit for me. I hope that we can stay friends.

I save things like that. I put that card in my “thank folder.” It meant a lot to me because it showed me that I’m bringing value to people. I brought value to him—even if it wasn’t directly related to his business—and he saw value in what we were doing. That’s all I needed.

What would you say to somebody who is thinking about purchasing a Network In Action franchise?

There are always those people who want to fight every little thing. My advice is to just do it. You can be successful; just get out of your own way and you’re going to go so much further. I’m a firm believer that if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others.

I can only think of a handful of other franchise owners who’ve gone through the same experiences we have and who were able to survive the pandemic. Imagine buying a franchise—any franchise—and you get it going, and then the pandemic hits. I’ve never seen anything like that in my lifetime, and I hope I never do again. A lot of businesses were shuttering and closing their doors. But we had a lot of success stories come from that time period—businesses that would have been out of business if it weren’t for Network In Action. I mean that in all sincerity. Our group members’ businesses were growing when everyone else was trying to get the scraps at the end. Our members really came together and were successful, referring each other and doing business online and staying connected. Sometimes it was just being there for each other. We brought a lot of value during that time because of everything that was already built into our model. We went through some very troubling times, and we persevered. We were successful because we didn’t try to reinvent the wheel.

Genius is defined by perseverance and hard work. You don’t have to be smart to be successful here. You just have to put in some effort and follow the script.

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