About Us.News.Contact Us
CEO Success Blog. The blogosphere for Successful Business Owners.



Group helps each other thrive in marketplace

August 24th, 2009

By Richard Ryman • rryman@greenbaypressgazette.com • August 9, 2009

Jim Overly has an issue. He’s found a way to get more business into his Cyber Works computer repair shop, now he has to figure out how to get the work done.

He’s got an architect, an engineer, a blue print shop owner and a jeweler to help him. They and others are members with Overly of one of The Alternative Board’s local strategic boards, a gathering of noncompeting businessmen who share ideas, make critiques and generally act as a support group and sounding board. In essence, an alternative board of directors to companies not big enough to have a board.

“Ultimately, we make our own calls,” said Joe Pankratz, owner of Avenue Jewelers in Appleton. “It’s very, very beneficial to know multiple perspectives instead of one. You get the comfort factor that you are not out in left field because you react to something emotionally.”

Overly’s strategy is summed up by his advertising slogan, “48 hours or free.”

His computer sales and repair shop guarantees that any computer repair or upgrade will be done in 48 hours or the work is free. He has four computer techs and a limited physical space, but business has already increased and usually doubles in the months following Christmas, which is what he’s planning for now.

“We have to maintain the same niceness and ability to get things done even though we are doing it twice as fast,” he said. “I don’t want to keep adding techs. I don’t want to work twice as hard for the same amount of money.”

After quizzing Overly pretty thoroughly, suggestions flowed: use a triage system, use prices to control flow, think about what to do next when competitors begin matching 48 hours or free.

“I definitely got great advice from the other guys. One of the things we do in that meeting is throw out stuff we are doing, thinking about doing or doing and it’s not working,” Overly said. “I liked some of the ideas. I’ve already given them to my service manager to run by his guys.”

Alternative Boards are franchised to business consultants, who recruit members, lead meetings and provide one-on-one coaching sessions. The board to which Overly belongs is administered by Michael Audit, president of Benchmark Consultants Inc., Oshkosh. Audit and his partner, Jim Marshall, oversee three groups each.

Audi said the optimum size for a group is seven to nine members. In deciding to invite new members, he looks for a willingness on their part to be open to change and for chemistry, which is critical to a successful group.

“It’s really an appreciation that ‘there is more potential in this business and I need to get it,’” he said.

View Full Article

Bookmark the CEO Success Blog!