As the COVID-19 pandemic ran riot over small businesses, Palm Beach’s Blake Bayham’s Network Lead Exchange (NLX) franchise experienced an extended growth cycle thanks to an innovative approach to the longtime business practice of networking.
Bayham’s Network Lead Exchange franchise quickly grew to 17 members, and he anticipates more than 20 members by the end of the year. The opportunity for a successful networking business was self-evident for this entrepreneur. According to Bayham, “I invested in Network Lead Exchange because I saw it as an opportunity to provide my network with a better option for personal and professional growth. As a business owner’s coach, NLX benefits my business by making it easy to refer my coaching clients to my trusted referral partners. As an added bonus, I receive compensation for doing so!”
The Birth of NLX
United Franchise Group (UFG) has a long history of setting up franchisees for success. One of the key processes facilitating success is networking. There are plenty of formal and informal networking groups, and UFG’s belief is the more franchisees network, the better the bottom lines of franchisee’s businesses.
This philosophy of supporting franchisees undergirds all of UFG’s activities. What started with one brand – Signarama in 1986 with a small store in Farmingdale, NY has grown into multiple affiliated companies and brands. Using the knowledge from the birth of the original franchise and applying it to all new franchises is how UFG separates itself from the competition. Networking is a key component of success. Through first-hand experience of networking success along with seeing franchisees gain business via networking referrals confirms the efficacy of networking. With this knowledge, UFG decided to create a networking platform that would eliminate the networking problems franchisees presented. This platform is called Network Lead Exchange, and it was created in 2018.
Austin Titus, the President of Network Lead Exchange, is a massive believer in the power of networking. He describes networking’s effects on business, stating, “Networking is not only where most quality business comes from, but it’s also where the most return business comes from. Return business and customer loyalty is where most small businesses thrive.”
Several franchisees would join networking groups, BNIs, along with clubs like Rotary or Kiwanis. However, UFG found many franchisees couldn’t efficiently network. Titus describes the problems, “We constantly had franchisees come to us with concerns that traditional networking is expensive, time-consuming, and not flexible at all. With Network Lead Exchange, all of those concerns were addressed. Being a flexible, affordable, and efficient alternative to traditional networking, we are positioned to pave the way for future success of small business owners.”
The biggest difference - and where franchisees like Bayham found success during a pandemic - is taking networking away from a face-to-face requirement and putting networking into a virtual space.
How Network Lead Exchange Changed Networking
UFG is proud to tout Network Lead Exchange as the future of networking. The way the platform works is very simple. Network leaders such as Bayham interact with members via the Network Lead Exchange system. This system allows personalized communication along with ease of referrals, tracking of referrals, and the ability of everyone in the network to send a commission to another member who referred business.
The efficiency of Network Lead Exchange is a big part of Bayham’s success. He doesn’t have to spend much time running the chapter, and that is a vast improvement for networking’s efficacy. “I don’t have to spend too much time managing my platform, but the beauty of NLX is that I get to make it my own. Between planning meetings and member recruitment, it only takes about 10-20 hours each month to run my chapter”, said Bayham.
During a pandemic meeting in person for networking events is a non-starter for many professionals. Network Lead Exchange’s platform allows for virtual interaction, meaning during the time other networking groups were learning the vagaries of Zoom, Network Lead Exchange groups were interacting in ways already familiar. This familiarity with the virtual interactions is why during September Network Lead Exchange opened 10 additional chapters in four states. Bayham added, “People are having a hard time finding new and creative ways to grow during the pandemic. NLX offers them a solution, and that’s made my chapter easier to grow.”
Network Lead Exchange allows chapter leaders to determine the composition of their group. Bayham cites determining composition of his group as a major reason he started a Network Lead Exchange franchise. Many types of businesses and franchises benefit from Network Lead Exchange. Attorneys, business coaches, medical professionals, Signarama franchisees and even those working in the skilled trades have opened chapters. Referral activity within Network Lead Exchange chapters also draws members.
The commission for referrals attracts franchisees and network members. Through the referral tracking system, it’s easy for the person making the referral to see if the other member has acted on the referral.
The efficiency of the platform differentiates Network Lead Exchange from all other networking systems. With the COVID-19 pandemic ever-present, entrepreneurs are turning to different platforms to build businesses.
Bayham summarized his Network Lead Exchange experience by saying, “For me, NLX has been more than just a franchise or networking tool. It’s given me a way to bring more value to my clients and network.”