Rise To A New Level In 2018
Join a USA Peer Group
By Fred Holbrook, Sloan Appliance Service
One of the many benefits of membership in United Servicers Association (USA) is the opportunity to become a member of a Peer Group. Becoming a member of a USA Peer Group can be a key means to achieve significant improvement in the efficiency of your business.
What is the USA definition of a peer group? Simply put, it is a gathering of like-minded business people or entrepreneurs, not in competing markets that gather on a regularly scheduled basis to help each other run their respective businesses. At some point, the Peer Group can meet at member locations to perform an analysis of business.
A Peer Group is not an exclusive club (except for limitations on size), a social club, and should not be considered to be a forum to unite to negotiate with manufacturers and warranty companies to gain rate increases. A Peer Group can collaborate and share costs on some projects such as marketing and recruiting, for example.
USA Peer Groups are limited to principals (business owners) only. Members cannot participate in competing markets. In fact, non-compete and confidentially agreements are signed at the first Peer Group meeting to ensure that all information shared is confidential. Peer Groups are limited in size to a number small enough for all to participate. Usually, 10-12 members is the maximum number of members to achieve full participation.
Peer Groups select a rotating, designated leader for each meeting. All members contribute to setting the meeting agenda. And as stated previously, what is shared within the group does not go outside the group. Members must be assured that they can share information without reservation. It does take time to build this kind of trust with any group.
Typically, Peer Group meetings are conducted on a Friday, allowing for Thursday travel. This also allows for the Peer Group to dine together on the night prior to the meeting. In fact, some Peer Groups conduct 2-day meetings. Being a member is somewhat of a financial investment in travel. However, the real investment is in time away from your business. The value gained from attending Peer Group meets has far exceeded the costs of time and travel.
A sample agenda for a Peer Group meeting would be:
· Update on what’s happening in each business since last meeting
· Successful projects that have worked well
· Continuing challenges and frustrations
· Accountability for goals set at previous meetings
· Comparison of P&L percentages in a common format
· New projects (marketing campaigns, recruiting technicians, etc.)
· Next meeting location, leader, hotel, etc.,
USA attempts to form at least one new Peer Group each year. The Peer Group formed at the 2018 ASTI had its first meeting in Dallas, TX in May with 12 new members. This Group will conduct its second meeting on August 3 in Minneapolis.
My initial experience with USA Peer Groups was at my first ASTI in 2011. It is unmistakably THE best thing I have taken away from USA and one of the best things I have done to improve my business. The core members of this Peer Group have been together now for over seven years and the level of trust between us is extremely high.
We have visited and reviewed each other’s businesses at least once over the years. The way the Peer Group’s member business accomplishes a task may not fit exactly in my business. However, viewing my Peer Group member’s process has sparked many great ideas on how to improve my business processes. It is impossible to measure the positive impact gained from just observing how another company achieves simple tasks.
I use my Peer Group as a “quasi” Board of Directors for my business. Many times, I have encountered an issue for the first time and need advice or for someone just to listen. Almost always, someone in my Peer Group has encountered the issue I am experiencing and offers sound advice on how to handle the situation.
I strongly recommend that any service business owner consider joining a United Servicers Peer Group. You can complete a profile by clicking on the link below or call (800) 683-2558 for more information. You will thank yourself later.