ANNUAL REVIEW – Essex Business forum 2013 to 2014
We have now been in existence for 3 years and for those of us who have been there from the beginning (by my account 16 of the original 17 are still remaining) we have seen tremendous growth and a more diverse organisation emerging that promotes our business as well as being an excellent networking organisation.
Let’s get the disappointing bits out of the way first and put them in to context. This time last year we had 38 members and as the spring came the numbers looked as if they were going to approach 40. We have had many new members join but our numbers have now dwindled to 26 although this has been in part due to natural wastage including relocation, ill health and retirement. We need to increase our numbers.
This situation is starting to turn round with 3 prospective members in the pipeline. More importantly we have arranged a visitor’s breakfast for next week the 6th March 2014. We certainly hope and anticipate that this will get our numbers back up at least to the 38 number which is where we started last year.
The New Meeting at Billericay
With the prospect of hitting 40 members at the beginning of the year it was decided that another meeting should be opened and so in July 2013 the Billericay Meeting was launched. Following that launch, as the weeks went by we finished up with core of 7 members with various visitors attending but because of the size of the group none joined. It was then that we organised the visitor’s breakfast meeting that we are now replicating at Brentwood and which was hugely successful leaving us with a current membership level of 24.
What was significant was that the way the core 7 members took “ownership” of the meeting and took responsibility for organising visitors. Each one of them took a responsibility to get visitors in and convert to new members in order to grow the group. Hopefully our Visitors Meeting will make all members realise that the growth of the group is their responsibility and for their benefit. Whatever the outcome of the coming visitors meeting, we must all now be looking to regularly bring visitors to the meeting and consciously be looking out for visitors in our day to day working lives.
This continues to be heart of the group’s identity. During the year we experienced a fall off in attendance at the usual holiday times both in the summer and around Christmas but as always the meeting has managed to effectively combine good humour, a serious exchange of information to each other in the 60 second round and the 10 minute slot. Regular referrals have ensured that despite the fall off in numbers record returns of recorded business have been made.
For example the month of August showed recorded business of £129,000, the month of October £142,641, and magnificent November £238,000.
These record breaking monthly increases in recorded business turnover resulted in recorded business for the year of £1,145,000. This compares very favourably with our first year of £500,000 and our second year of £940,600.
One really stunning statistic illustrating our growth is that if you average our recorded business on a member for member basis.
Year 1 with 26 members it averages £19,700 per person per annum.
Year 2 with 38 members it averages £24,750 per person per annum.
Year 3 back down to 26 members it averages £44,024 per person per annum.
Attendance must be regarded as of paramount importance. You neither give nor receive referrals if you do not attend regularly. As a result of this, during the course of this year the committee has created the position on the leadership team that has been filled by Terry Maylin, whose principal function is to monitor attendance and membership levels and encourage members who are finding attendance difficult. This is supported by the principle, that if you miss 4 weeks consecutively without either a holiday or sickness reason your category is liable to be opened in the absence of any other valid personal reasons. Terry’s role is to monitor all of this to ensure that we keep our numbers up and the meeting levels as high as possible.
For all that, the meetings have continued to be their usual successful self and the reason why the bulk of the members continue to attend regularly, pass and receive good business and also enjoy themselves.
If the meeting is at the core of the group’s identity, the success of EBF to date and its continuing success must rest with the Website, which fulfils so many functions; a reference for members, an advertisement to the world at large and an attraction for visitors. Our thanks must go to Scott Griffiths for all the efforts he has put in to its innovation and the maintenance of the site.
We rebranded the Power Groups and we have observed good progress.
To date we have 2 vibrant Synergy Teams; the Finance/Professions Group that meets on the second Tuesday in every month at 4.30pm at the Ivory Rooms Billericay and the Business to Consumer Team that meets on the third Monday of every month in the George and Dragon at Mountnessing
Both groups continue to be well attended and a great addition to our network and promotional aspirations. Highlight of the year was the production by the Business to Consumer Group of a leaflet that was circulated in Brentwood and Billericay advertising 11 of the member’s businesses. Leaflet drops are notoriously fickle but I have counted 12 referrals to various members since they were delivered. The success of the leaflet was very much down to Richard Reed as the group chairman who has pulled us all together and Dawn’s expertise in producing the detail of the leaflet.
Part and parcel of getting to know each other is attendance at social events which help build relationships, where we all have a chance to meet with our partners.
This year, until his change of role, Terry Maylin was the Events Co-ordinator who oversaw 3 main social events.
1. A River Boat trip, with lunch and then a visit to the London Eye, which proved to be a great success for those who were able to get away mid-week to have a great day out in London.
2. At the beginning of August we had our first Garden Party which myself and my wife were pleased to host… after I had told her that we were already committed anyway. The weather was kind and we counted 36, members and partners. A similar event can be arranged again this year.
3. Our usual Christmas Dinner was similarly well attended and held at Tarrantino’s in Brentwood.
Now Kim Redwood Lee is in charge and we look forward to, an even busier social calendar.
• Our Visitors Day looms when hopefully we will boost our numbers and move towards the magical 40.
• We have now produced the education materials and Scott has plans for introducing it to the membership through the Website (watch this space!).
• So far as Synergy Teams are concerned, the Business to Business Group has slightly languished but hopefully as we get new members this is a team that is there to be developed.
• Led by the Synergy Teams we need to be more promotional as a group.
• Kim Redwood Lee is the Social Events co-ordinator. Please make sure she is just that, helping co-ordinate any of you with any ideas as to social events. Approach her and be part of organising an event that you think might be well received.